KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — The DAP accused Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today of being in denial about the “serious problems” blighting the education system by “hiding behind baseless boasts” after the latter said Malaysia trumped the United States, United Kingdom and Germany in terms of education standards.
The deputy prime minister, who also holds the education portfolio, had on Saturday based his assertion on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2011/2 Global Competitiveness Report which found top business figures ranking Malaysia 14th out of 142 countries with respect to quality of education.
The 87 respondents from Malaysia were asked to rank how well the education system meets the needs of a competitive economy but were not asked to rank the country in comparison to others.
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said today Muhyiddin was cherry-picking as the report found Malaysia did not place above 18th for other education indicators.
He specifically cited the Secondary Education Enrolment ranking of 101st as “particularly worrying” as it places Malaysia behind Thailand (94th), Indonesia (91st) Brunei (35th) and Singapore (17th).
“Not only is Muhyiddin in a state of denial by covering up the significant challenges, weaknesses and even defects in the Malaysian education system, he has made Malaysia an international laughing stock by claiming to be better than the US, UK and Germany.
“The time has come for Malaysia’s education ministry to boldly admit its weaknesses instead of hiding behind baseless boastings so that we can address these problems,” the Penang chief minister said.
Despite Malaysia placing 14th, the WEF report also said in its summary for Malaysia that as the country becomes increasingly innovation-driven, “it will need to improve its performance in education and technological readiness”.
“In terms of higher education and training (38th), improving access remains a priority in light of low enrolment rates of 69 per cent (101st) and 36 per cent (66th) for secondary and tertiary education, respectively,” it said.
The DAP had also pointed earlier today to the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2009+ report released last December, where Malaysian students ranked 55th out of 74 countries in terms of reading literacy, 57th in Mathematics and “only marginally better” in 52nd position for Science literacy.
The PISA 2009+ study, conducted in 2010, reviewed the literacy, mathematics and scientific understanding of 522,000 students across 74 countries, with nearly 4,999 students drawn from Malaysia.