Split good but ministers have their work cut out

PETALING JAYA: The move to split the Education Ministry is good but there are many issues needing urgent attention, say education action groups.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said while the move would be costly, it would be a less gargantuan task to manage.

She also said the newly-appointed ministers and deputies must be passionate and sensitive to students’ plight.

“The national education policy must be developed without having to reinvent it. To move the nation forward, it’s crucial that they see the importance of English, Science and Mathematics.

“It’s also imperative that our education system is driven by values of humanity without neglecting the demands of the fourth industrial revolution, ” she said, adding that there was no place for corruption and cronyism in education.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said splitting the ministry allowed the ministers to concentrate on their respective portfolios.

“The new ministers must mould students to become globally competitive and marketable and our education system must be more secular and the Dual Language Programme should be strengthened.

“Look into making English a compulsory pass in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations and attract more students to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, ” he said.

Mak also said that Form Six should be placed under the Higher Education Ministry as placing it under the Education Ministry, the students’ route to public institutions of higher learning would not be as smooth.

Higher education had always been part of the Education Ministry until 2004 when then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi separated the ministry into the education and higher education portfolios.

Subsequently, both ministries were merged in 2013 and then split up again in 2015 and when Pakatan Harapan took over, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that there would only be one ministry in charge of all matters regarding education.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan, meanwhile, wants the grassroots issues to be tackled.

“Too much documentation which results in lecturers spending less time educating must be effectively addressed as we teachers are facing a similar problem.

“There’s too little face time between students and educators at school and tertiary levels, ” he said.

Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh hopes the direction set out in the Malaysian Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025 is implemented as planned since a lot of effort and input from stakeholders had gone into preparing it.

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