GEORGE TOWN: Education ministry officials should not bury their heads in the sand over the significantly weaker scores in the recent programme for international student assessments (Pisa), says DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng.
He said the ministry needs to confront the reality of poor education standards rather than downplaying it.
Malaysia declined significantly in the 2022 Pisa rankings on all three metrics — sciences, math and reading literacy.
Lim was responding to acting education director-general Azman Adnan’s comment that the drop in Pisa scores was a worldwide problem and “not unique to Malaysia”.
“I don’t agree with the director-general,” said Lim.
“We have to admit we have done worse (than previously). Don’t paper over the alarming drop in performance.
“If you don’t put our education on par with the world, then we can’t equip students with the best. How can our children ever do better?
“Let us not build a generation of people who can’t count. The ministry should not bury its head in the sand,” he told reporters at his service centre in Air Itam.
Lim said with a large chunk of the budget going to education, there was an urgent need to tackle this issue.
He demanded better salaries for teachers, while pointing to the need to address the “severe” shortage of language and science teachers.
“These are legacy problems left by the previous government. Let’s work together to resolve this issue. But first, we must accept we have declined (in education standards),” he said.
At the same conference, Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Rashid said she had received many complaints from graduate teachers not getting placement in schools. She said this matter should be looked into urgently.
The latest Pisa scores show that Malaysian 15-year-olds scored 409 in math (down from 440 previously) and 416 in science (down from 438 in 2018). In reading, Malaysians scored 388, down from 415.
Only 1.2% of the students were excellent at math, and only 0.5% were good at science. Less than half, just 42%, were good at reading.
The Pisa study serves to gauge the readiness of 15-year-olds who receive formal education to seamlessly adapt to contemporary society.
The assessment took place from April 17 to May 31, 2022 at 199 schools, including private schools, it was reported.
Singapore came up top in all three metrics.