STATE education departments (JPN) and district education offices (PPD) will be empowered to give more targeted interventions to schools after the Education Ministry is restructured.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said that the changes will see more authority and accountability in decision-making being given to the JPN and PPD.
“From being a centralised (unit), we want it to be decentralised.
“In the past, all the decisions were made by the ministry. It will then pass on its directives and instructions to JPN and then to PPD.
“Now, through the restructuring and empowerment, some of the decisions are made at the JPN and/or PPD level,” he said after his new year address to ministry staff in Putrajaya.
The minister said that the Public Service Department had approved the restructuring last December.
This was to reduce bureaucratic red tape and matters pertaining to administration, he added.
Other key issues that the ministry will be addressing this year include reducing the number of online applications which has to be filled up by teachers and minimising connectivity issues.
Previously, teachers were burdened by administrative duties.
Beginning this year, they will only be required to fill in students’ database applications (Aplikasi Pangkalan Data Murid) and school-based assessments.
“Other applications involving school operations such as the education information management system (Sistem Pengurusan Maklumat Pendidikan) and online registrations will be carried out only by teachers appointed as “guru data” and examination secretaries,” said Mahdzir.
He said the ministry will also focus on the professional development of teachers through the Continuous Professional Development Masterplan for Teachers or Pelan Induk Pembangunan Profesionalisme Keguruan.
“This plan will serve as guide and motivation for education officers to develop their competencies and potential.
“The plan is flexible to meet the needs and competencies of individuals, organisational requirements and current standards in a systematic and integrated manner,” he added.
Mahdzir said substantial budget was allocated for education initiatives which include teaching specifically on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
This also includes a more holistic school-based assessment and the new Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) format implemented last year.
“The reality in the change of format for UPSR is that it has only changed from (assessing pupils in) objective questions to subjective questions.
“This new format is to inculcate in our pupils the habit of learning without depending on examination formats as in previous years,” he said.
Pupils who sat for the UPSR examination last year were the first cohort who studied the new Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) which began in 2011 starting with Year One.
This year will see the implementation of the new Standard Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM) for Form One students and a revised KSSR for Year One pupils.
In his speech, Mahdzir said: “These changes are made as we move towards a better education system in line with 21st century learning to prepare our students for the global challenges in future.”
As for STEM, Mahdzir said one of the key points in its teaching and learning is to increase students’ interest and the competency of teachers.
“This year, we have received allocations to build more science labs in schools and to refurbish existing labs.
“I am hoping that by next year, these students can return to their labs to conduct their practicals,” he said, adding that he hopes the new labs will increase students’ interest in science.
With 15 vocational colleges across the country, the ministry hopes to strengthen TVET education this year.
“By the age of 19, students in this line will receive a diploma certificate,” said Mahdzir.
In 2012, a total of 2,273 students received their diplomas.
Of this number, 83.1% secured jobs or became entrepreneurs three months after graduating.
On orang asli students, Mahdzir said there are at least 90 national schools dedicated to the students.
“(These schools are spread across) Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Johor. These are daily schools where some are equipped with hostels so that the children have easy access to their schools,” he added.
In line with the 2017 budget presented last year, 11 institutes of teacher education (IPG) campuses will have to change their functions, among them, as TVET institutes, including polytechnics and vocational colleges.
“I would like to make it clear that we will not be shutting down any of these campuses, only that the functions will be changed.
“For example, if there are three empty buildings in an IPG campus, we will refurbish it and use it to conduct other activities without disrupting the teaching and learning happening at the other buildings for IPG students,” he added.
Deputy Education Ministers Datuk P. Kamalanathan and Datuk Chong Sin Woon were also present at the event.