IT takes years to transform an education system, no matter how sturdy the plan and how hard the push. There are myriad factors to address, and there is a dizzying number of moving parts to adjust and replace. And often, we will only see the results much later.
As the Education Ministry has pointed out, it is “a task of great complexity in both breadth and depth”.
In making changes to what and how our children are taught in schools, a hasty and ill-advised move today can result in substantial long-term damage.
Nothing less than the nation’s future is at stake, and it is more important to get the job done right than to get it done fast. This is why the current Malaysia Education Blueprint stretches from 2013 to 2025.
And yet, we do not really have the luxury of time.
The blueprint’s goal is to better prepare our children for the needs of the 21st century, and that demands steady progress and momentum that matches the fast pace of this increasingly global and digital world.
Yes, the transformation must not be rushed, but it has to be monitored well so that we know it is moving in the right direction and at the correct speed.
It is helpful that the transformation has been mapped out in three waves.
The First Wave, which took place between 2013 and 2015, was designed to turn around the education system by supporting teachers and focusing on core skills.
The Second Wave (2016 to 2020) is all about accelerating the improvement of the system, while the Third Wave (2021 to 2025) is meant to enable the move towards excellence with increased operational flexibility.
Yesterday, the Education Ministry launched its third annual report on the implementation of the blueprint.
The report also serves as an appraisal of the First Wave initiatives.
The ministry highlighted three achievements – 100% literacy and numeracy among students after three years of schooling; an increase in student enrolment; and a 25% reduction in the urban-rural gap.
These are, in fact, the First Wave’s targeted key outcomes.
It is therefore understandable if the ministry considers the first phase of the blueprint implementation as successful.
But there is really little time for pats on the back and celebrations.
We are already in the midst of the Second Wave, and as Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid pointed out in his speech at the launch of the latest annual report, the blueprint’s journey still has some way to go.
The Second Wave will include more structural changes that will drive the transformation of the education system.
More than ever, the support and commitment of all stakeholders are required. If we fail to do our part, we will be letting down our children and the country, too.
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