Not many were aware of the final open dialogue on the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 held on Saturday, Oct 6, 2012, at Pudu Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. I attended, but walked away highly disappointed and furious that our time was spent in futility while taxpayers’ money was wasted due to inept education officials.
The Education Ministry (MOE) screwed up big time with their thoughtless planning. And when they got bashed left and right for the badly chosen venue, they quickly claimed that it was a last-minute thing, giving excuses that the original plan was for a “pameran (exhibition)” only with no dialogue session.
What a blatant outright lie. Their project management office website, dated Aug 14, had clearly stated ‘10am: Sesi Dialog bersama KPPM / TKPPM’ (10am: Dialogue session with Education director-general/ deputy) and was the only one planned for KL.
The venue was so noisy and not very conducive. Instead of making any suggestions that I had intended to, I simply handed over my printed note to the chairperson and made a public statement to deputy director-general Amin Senin that "this whole thing is a joke! (One) cannot hear anything. If MOE cannot even get this kind of basic thing right, I feel sorry for all our children".
‘Who determine which views go into the blueprint?’
Upon further criticism by other attendees and sensing their folly, the officers quickly announced that another session will be held in KL again soon, at a proper venue. It was obviously a public relations face-saving attempt.
One cannot help but get the impression that by giving it minimum publicity, the MOE was not quite sincere with this whole exercise. Perhaps they fear facing some very vocal public and NGOs who have all but denounced the blueprint.
Stakeholders (including an elderly gentlemen who traveled all the way from Ipoh) were keen to provide final input to this 13-year blueprint that the whole country is counting on to bring about transformational changes to our education system. We are putting all our hopes and that of our children’s future, into this blueprint.
Organising a dialogue should be a piece of cake yet MOE failed to do it properly. At this rate, can we even trust them to carry out an overhaul of our education system and count on them to successfully implement a blueprint that it is inherently much more complex?
During the Q&A, the deputy director-general insisted that all views had been taken into account. What perplexes me is, after taking into account all those views, who determines what goes into the blueprint, and how?
Dialogues with public mere ‘eyewash’
- The two widely supported suggestions - for the continuation of Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) alongside Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening the English Language (MBMMBI) and for a non-politician Education Minister, that received among the loudest applause during town hall meetings held earlier, are missing from the blueprint.
- An attendee of two round table discussions on education revealed that there is almost unanimous agreement that English should be made the medium of instruction at least for Mathematics and Science. It is highly questionably why their views are ignored.
- During one of the dialogues, we were told of very high-ranking Education Ministry officials who would not publicly state their stand when asked if they sanctioned the published blueprint. Instead, they opted to remain silent.
- We also heard of claims that this published blueprint did not reflect some major contents in the original proposals compiled by very senior education officers.
Unless the blueprint is amended to incorporate an accurate picture that truly results from MOE’s engagement with the public, and which rightly reflects the aspirations of Malaysians, we, the stakeholders, cannot help but suspect that all the sessions and dialogues engaging with the public are just an eye-wash.
Therefore, one should not be faulted for concluding that there is possible manipulation of data collected. It is extremely disappointing and very nauseating to sense a lack of sincerity on the Minister’s part to take our views into account.
TBH is a concerned parent from Petaling Jaya.