Keep education out of politics, say parents

Alyaa Azhar | February 19, 2013
A memorandum tells the government to appoint a non-politician as head of the Education Ministry.
PUTRAJAYA: Four parents’ organisations today urged both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to stop mixing education with politics and demanded that the government appoint an educationist instead of a politician to head the Ministry of Education.
The demand was one of three submitted in a memorandum to the ministry by the Concerned Parents of Selangor (CPS), the Parents Action Group on Education (PAGE), the Malacca Action Group of Parents in Education (MAGPIE) and the Herald of Penang for Education (HOPE).
CPS representative Shamsudin Hamid told reporters afterwards that the four groups were all concerned that education was being increasingly politicised.
“The obsession to retain power at all costs by one party or to take over power also at all costs by another party is the bane of life in Malaysia today,” he said. “Enough is enough.”
He said the “obsession to win elections” would ultimately victimise education, parents and children.
“The ministry must be headed by a non-political appointee. Otherwise, there will be political agendas involved.”
The other two demands in the memorandum are for the ministry to reinstate the system of teaching science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) as an option and to re-introduce English-medium schools.
Shamsudin said discussions between government representatives and civic groups on these issues had been “nothing but a charade”.
“As proof,” he added, “PPSMI was only mentioned in one sentence in the two-inch-thick Malaysia Education Blueprint.”
He said the blueprint ignored the findings of the independent advisory committee appointed by the ministry. The findings, he claimed, were “generally in favour” of continuing with PPSMI.
Shamsudin also spoke of the high rate of unemployment among Malay graduates, attributing the problem to their lack of proficiency in English.
“Today alone there are 70,000 unemployed graduates and the majority are Malays,” he said.
“Most Malays who get jobs are those who were educated at private schools such as the Alice Smith and Sri Cempaka schools, schools which have made them fluent in English.
“However, the majority of us depend on national schools. As such, national schools must be upgraded into parents’ first-choice schools.
“It’s high time for English-medium schools to be re-introduced.”

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