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Najib Tun Razak unveiled the National Education Blueprint

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The blueprint aims to adjust and put Malaysia’s education at par with rich economies with focus on critical thinking.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today unveiled the National Education Blueprint that will equip students with knowledge, thinking skills and bilingual proficiency, among others.

The reforms will be carried out in 11 shifts over 17 years.

Najib, who is aiming to make Malaysia a developed nation by 2020, said the 11-point blueprint was drafted with inputs from major stakeholders including those from the public.

“This is in line of what I had said earlier – that the age of government-knows-best is over.. it is moral courage to admit one’s weakness and this is what we’re doing,” he said.

Najib said he is confident that the new education masterplan will steer Malaysia towards the right direction and fulfil the requirements to compete with the world’s best.

The blueprint focuses on producing six key “attributes” for the student: knowledge, thinking skills, leadership, bilingual proficiency, ethics and national identity.

The 11 shifts are:

Shift 1 – provide equal access to quality education of international standard. School curriculum will be revised in 2017, giving high achieving students the option to finish school earlier.
Shift 2 – ensure every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and English language. For this purpose, some 70,000 English teachers will sit for the Cambridge Placement Test and be given training to improve language proficiency. There will a standard Bahasa Malaysia curriculum for both government and vernacular primary schools. The goal is to abolish “remove” class in secondary schools by 2017.
Shift 3 – develop values-driven Malaysians, with plans for expanding the Student Integration Plan for Unity programme for students.
Shift 4 – transform teaching into a profession of choice. Only the top 30% of graduates will be recruited for teaching. Also, there will be a new career package and reduced administrative duties for teachers.
Shift 5 – ensure high-performing school leaders in every school.
Shift 6 – empower state and district education departments and schools to customise solutions based on need; they can tailor their approach for different schools.
Shift 7 – leverage ICT (information, and communication technology) to scale up quality learning across Malaysia. The 1Bestari (Wifi) programme will be extended to all schools.
Shift 8 – streamline the Education Ministry’s delivery capabilities and capacity so that there is no overlap of functions.
Shift 9 – partnership with parents, community and private sector. Parents will be able to monitor the students’ progress online through School Examination Analysis System (SAPS). Some 500 trust schools will be set up.
Shift 10 – maximise student result for every ringgit spent.
Shift 11 – increase transparency for direct public accountability. The progress of the goals of the blueprint will be made public.

In addition to the 11 shifts, there will also be three “waves” to monitor the progress of the blueprint. The first wave will keep tabs on the impementation aspects of the blueprint, with focus on core student skills and giving teachers more support.

The second wave is to build on the progress achieved, while in the third wave (from 2020 to 2025), schools will have autonomy to handle their own administration.

No convincing details

Meanwhile, UCSI lecturer and a former staff working for the education cluster under Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme, Ong Kian Ming, said the blueprint look good on paper but lacked convincing details on its implementation.

Ong said the plan to recruit quality teachers from the top 30% SPM scorers is “ambitious” but it lacks details on a holistic recruitment scheme including those for rural education.

The government is said to be struggling to recruit teachers for the interior areas even with existing incentives.

“What if they don’t manage to recruit them? Will we see a shortage of quality teachers?” Ong asked.

Najib’s education reform plan comes just ahead of key national polls and in what appears to be an admission of a need for change to suit global market demands.

The blueprint also comes amid public complaints for an overhaul of an education system that has so far produced a mediocre workforce.