KUALA LUMPUR: An academic expert has urged Fadhlina Sidek to be bolder and more focused in addressing the challenges faced by students and teachers, as the education minister begins her second year in the Cabinet portfolio.
Othman Talib, an education analyst, said there had been a lack of significant change since Fadhlina took over the role.
He acknowledged however that Fadhlina had assumed responsibility during a tumultuous time marked by issues such as high-level syllabi, post-Covid-19 student dropouts, and a shortage of teachers.
“She hasn’t articulated many educational concepts. But I attribute this apparent gap in education direction to her advisers. Placing the blame entirely on Fadhlina is not fair,” Othman told FMT.
“I believe she has been working diligently to bring success to the ministry, and perhaps my criticism is one way to assist her.”
Othman also said the ministry should provide timely feedback and explanations on emerging issues without getting defensive.
“They (the ministry) do not respond to criticism. That’s their policy. They will not respond openly if it involves policies, except for the minister who can provide an explanation.
“But the way she (Fadhlina) reacts to current issues is sometimes as if she is in the party that she is in now. Ministers should behave professionally and in a non-partisan manner.”
Fadhlina faced criticism last month over the management of the Palestine Solidarity Week at certain schools, shedding tears in Parliament during her defence.
She was labelled as “emotional” again after Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong expressed “shock” last week over her response to his query on teacher shortages at Chinese primary schools.
On overhauling the burdensome aspects of the education system, Othman encouraged Fadhlina to fearlessly restructure and discard any outdated or ineffective approaches.
Drawing a parallel with an international car manufacturer’s swift recall of defective vehicles, he said the education minister should do the same.
“Similarly, in education, why not withdraw (the burdensome system)? That would show the ministry’s high sense of responsibility,” he said.