January 28, 2013
PETALING JAYA, Jan 28 — Disgruntled parent groups are planning to hold a rally on February 19 in front of the Ministry of Education in Putrajaya to voice their dissatisfaction over the politicising of education.
As Election 2013 looms, the groups are calling for the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) to be put on hold until after the elections, and for an educationist to hold the ministerial post.
“All this year we’ve been saying that the problem should be redressed ... It shouldn’t be politicised by people from both sides,” said Shamsudin Hamid, co-ordinator of Concerned Parents of Selangor (CPS).
Together with three other groups — Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education (MAGPIE), and Herald of Penang for Education (HOPE) — the rally, organised by CPS, will start at 10 am, and culminate with a memorandum being handed over to the ministry.
The memorandum will also push for the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) and English-medium schools to be available as options for students.
Commenting on the possibility of having a non-politician head the ministry, the groups pointed out that there has been a precedence of professionals being appointed senators and made a minister, such as the two ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Idris Jala and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.
They also named Tan Sri Sulaiman Daud and Tan Sri Musa Mohamad who have headed the Education Ministry before, as examples of professionals who have been appointed to the post.
The groups hope that the gathering will convince the government to not rush into implementing the MEB, which will be discussed by the Cabinet in a special session on Wednesday.
“Our message to the Cabinet is that we hope that you’d deliberate the blueprint,” PAGE chief Datin Noor Azimah Rahim told reporters.
According to the groups, although the MEB presents an opportunity for the government to address the ills and shortcomings of the education system from scratch, it has been squandered by only developing on a system which is already in place and fraught with weaknesses.
The groups asked the government to consider the independent reports which were part of the blueprint drafting process, including the findings of an independent education review panel which, the groups said, were conveniently left out of the blueprint framework.
A 12-man review panel was chosen by the government in September last year to aid in the forming of MEB. It included people from the public and private sectors such as AirAsia founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and UKM vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin.
The panel, said CPS’s Shamsudin, has been reported to be in favour of the continuation of PPSMI, and he blasted the blueprint framework for only mentioning PPSMI in one sentence despite the furore its cancellation has caused.
The groups also expressed their concern over the transition between the abolishment of PPSMI up until now. The ministry had promised a “soft landing” — where students already in PPSMI would continue to do so until they finish school — but textbooks in English are already not being distributed, while school heads have taken it upon themselves to abolish PPSMI straight away.
“From what we see, the government just wants PPSMI to die a natural death,” said MAGPIE chairman Mak Chee Kin.
HOPE deputy chairman Krishnan Sreenevasan echoed Mak’s view, alleging a conspiracy to undermine the resolve of parents who prefer that their children learn science and mathematics in English.
PAGE has previously delivered seven memorandums to the ministry, while thousands of individual letters from parents on the issue have also been delivered.
The MEB 2013-2025 promises 11 shifts or areas of reform to produce students with six key attributes over the next 13 years. It will be implemented in three phases, or “waves”, with the first being over three years, while the second and third being five years each.