The preliminary report on the new education blueprint quietly acknowledges that the country is facing a crisis in the education system, alleged the think tank Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI).

“We have the proof of this, and it (the crisis) is stated in the education blueprint,” said CPI director Lim Teck Ghee.

NONE“I am shocked that they gave it so much attention, without labelling it as a ‘crisis’,” said Lim.

He was speaking at a forum in Kuala Lumpur last night on the education blueprint unveiled by Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sept 11.

As an example, he pointed out that the report cites an international trend in education of science and mathematics showing that the quality of education in Malaysia has declined from 1999 to 2007.

Lim said  the worst affected in this education crisis are marginalised communities such as the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, students of vernacular schools and refugee children.

He said the crisis stems from the unfair and opaque distribution of education funds, that has not been discussed critically.
ijok ceramah 220407 lim teck gheeFor example, Lim (left) argued that Mara Junior Science Colleges (MRSM) have created a small group of Malaysian Malay elites who abuse the education system, sidelining the other Malaysian Malays in mainstream education.

"My concern is that this is a form of elite education that is subsidised by the state for the interest of the Malays.

He said that the Malays themselves need to question the system and study whether "MRSM students come from the poor states, or from the middle or upper-middle classes, and professional families who use the system do so for the sustainability of the Malay Malaysian's benefit and special position."

"(An unnamed Umno leader) told me that almost daily he receives a delegation of jobless Islamic Studies graduates from local universities, who could not be employed, don't know what to do, or where to go.

"They are like time bombs that we need to discuss openly," he said, adding that they could become disruptive game-changers in society.

As for plans to making history a compulsory subject that must be passed beginning 2014, Lim said the subject is too political and needs to be expanded to include interpretations from groups other than Umno.
"It is a litmus test for the government to take into account the contributions of all parties in history and not distort the people's own history," he said.

Keeping them where they belong 

Meanwhile, former Penang exco member Toh Kin Woon said the blueprint is inadequate as a tool for social mobility.

"Therefore , for the poor, education is not to tool to develop oneself socially, but to maintain their place in society for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

"The government needs to identify the poor and intervene based on class and not race," he said.

The London School of Economics lecturer also concurred with Lim's views on history as a subject, saying, "the education blueprint should not be politicised in favour of the ruling elites.

"For example the education syllabus erases the contributions of many other groups that are important to this country's historical development," he said.