Cabinet tomorrow should give the public two weeks for feedback on the terms of reference and composition of the second Mahathir education review committee into the two biggest failures of the national education system – providing quality education and fostering national unity
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Cabinet tomorrow should give the public two weeks for feedback on the terms of reference and composition of the second Mahathir education review committee into the two biggest failures of the national education system – providing quality education and fostering national unity.
The Cabinet should make this decision after considering and approving the recommendation of the UMNO Supreme Council of Nov. 29 for the establishment of the most high-powered national education review committee in the nation’s history under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, to review the entire national education system to improve the quality of education and ensure that national schools are the popular choice of all Malaysians to foster national unity.
Let the establishment of the highest-powered education committee in the nation’s history be the most democratic one as well, with Malaysians able to participate in the process every step of the way, starting with the determination of its terms of reference and nomination of members of the education review committee representing all sections of the Malaysian society, covering the full spectrum of diverse political, educational and civil society opinion.
To set the ball rolling for the most democratic education review involving the fullest public participation and consultation, the Cabinet tomorrow should also make public the comprehensive education reform report which was commissioned by the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) in May this year.
The report, which was put together by a group of the country’s leading academics, professionals, senior civil servants, corporate captains and teachers was submitted to the UMNO Supreme Council instead of the Cabinet – and was the basis for the UMNO Supreme Council decision on Nov. 29.
It is a sad reflection of the increasing failure of the Malaysian media to perform its most elementary function to keep Malaysians adequately informed about developments in the country that there has been no local press reports about the recommendations of this comprehensive education reform report for a single-stream education system to make national schools the choice of all Malaysian students.
Four months ago, there was already a report in the foreign press, the Singapore Straits Times, on its recommendations to make the student population at national schools to reflect “the racial demographics” in Malaysia – i.e. 55 per cent Malay, 30 per cent Chinese and about 10 per cent Indian.
According to this August report of The Singapore Straits Times, this NEAC-commissioned report submitted various specific recommendations to make national schools attractive to non-Malay parents, which include:
The Cabinet should direct that this NEAC-commissioned report should be made public so that it could be a point of reference not only for the second Mahathir education review committee but the basis for a national discussion as to the far-reaching education reforms needed to provide quality education to meet the challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology, achieve national unity as well as the Vision 2020 objectives of a fully developed nation.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman