Call on Education Ministry to go to the ground to convene meetings of parents in all primary schools to explain its proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in Std. One and to allow the parents the opportunity to give their inputs and views
- at a book-launch held at Heritage Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): In the first four decades of our national education history, Malaysia stayed away from international surveys on the comparative educational standards of Malaysian students in mathematics and science as against their counterparts in other countries, not even the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) – the largest, most comprehensive, reliable and important international study of educational outcomes ever undertaken in the world involving 45 countries, more than 15,000 participating schools and more than half a million students.
In 1996 and 1997, I badgered the then Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that Malaysia should participate in such future studies if Malaysia wants to build a world-class educational system and become an international centre for educational excellence.
With Najib’s knowledge and tacit agreement, I even wrote to the Dutch-based International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAE) and the International Association of Educational Progress (IAEP) which conducted TIMSS and the two earlier international surveys on science and mathematics achievements on cross-national attainments of different education systems as to how Malaysia could take part in its future surveys.
I later conveyed the IEA reply to Najib and commend his positive response, as shown by Malaysia’s participation in the TIMSS-R (Third International Mathematics and Science Study – Repeat) 1999, in which 180,000 students in Grade 8 (Form II) from 38 countries participated.
The results of TIMSS-R were released in November 2000. Singapore emerged first in mathematics and second in science, while Malaysia was placed 16th in mathematics and 22nd position in science out of 38 countries.
The rankings of countries in TIMSS 1999 are as follows:
In November 2000 itself, the Singapore Education Ministry issued a public statement on the “key findings” relating to Singapore students who participated in TIMSS-R 1999, but to date, the Malaysian Ministry of Education has not issued any public statement on an analysis of the lessons to be learnt Malaysia’s participation and performance in the TIMSS-R 1999.
In its statement of November 2000, the Singapore Education Ministry identified as the “key factors” contributing to the “excellent results” of Singapore students ranked first in mathematics and second in science in the 38-country survey of grade eight (Secondary Two) students the following:
As for the results of the Malaysian students in TIMSS-R 1999, there has been a total public silence by the Malaysian Education Ministry in the past two years since the release of the results.
DAP calls on the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to release the details of key findings concerning Malaysian students from TIMSS 1999 and in particular, to report as to how Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan students score in mathematics and science in TIMSS-R 1999.
Secondly, Musa should direct Education Ministry officials to convene meetings of parents in all primary schools, whether national, Chinese or Tamil, to explain its proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in Std. One and to allow the parents the opportunity to give their inputs and views; and most important of all, to decide whether the Education Ministry’s new proposals fulfil the Formula 1-2-3 objectives of firstly, enhancing English proficiency, secondly, maintain or raise mathematics and science standards and thirdly, preserve mother-tongue proficiency.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman