PETALING JAYA: Despite going to school for an average of 12 years, Malaysian students get only about nine years’ worth of meaningful education, a study by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said.
Citing research done by the World Bank, the KRI report said Malaysian students had 3.1 years of schooling that did not contribute to their educational achievement.
This was nowhere near Singapore, where the number of schooling years not contributing to educational achievement was zero.
Singapore was used as the base score of zero as the country had the highest test scores for Mathematics in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2015.
Malaysia did poorly when compared to a number of other countries that were also mentioned in the KRI report.
Sweden’s number of years of schooling that did not impact educational achievement was 2.4, followed by the United States (2.3), Australia (2.2), Britain (2.2), Japan (0.8), Hong Kong (0.6) and South Korea (0.2).
“It indicates a potential deficiency in the Malaysian education system, where students have three years of schooling that do not contribute to their educational achievement,” said the KRI report titled “The State of Households 2018”.
The report released on Monday made no specific policy recommendations to fix the problem.
It pointed out that longer schooling years were only meaningful if the quality associated to each year of schooling was sufficiently high to raise cognitive abilities.
One way to assess education quality, the report noted, was to adjust actual schooling years to learning outcomes indicated by a country’s performance in TIMSS.
The KRI report said Malaysia’s expenditure on education had grown steadily from RM500mil in 1970 to RM55.6bil in 2016.
Throughout this period, education spending has consistently made up between 18% and 26% of total government expenditure.
However, the government’s spending on education when normalised by the number of students stood at US$2,525 (RM10,489), which was still relatively low compared to some advanced countries.
Japan, for example, spends US$10,397 (RM43,190), followed by Singapore (US$9,357 or RM38,869) and South Korea (US$6,508 or RM27,034).
“If Malaysia is to be an advanced nation, it is essential to develop an education system that guarantees high-quality human capital development,” the KRI report said.
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