(Penang, Friday): An Education
Ministry spokesman has denied my assertion that its 10-year Education
Development Blueprint 2001-2010 is a “secret document” and said that the
government welcomes public input from educational organizations and
educationists on the blueprint, which are available from the Ministry’s
planning and policy research division.
When I recently described the 10-year Education Development
Blueprint as an “secret
document”, I never meant that it was a document classified under
the Official Secrets Act (OSA), or I would have opened
myself to arrest and prosecution under the OSA for publicly showing the
Education Development Blueprint in the last four days,
but in the sense that it is as good as a “secret document” as it is
unavailable and inaccessible to the interested public, including educational
organizations, political parties and Members of Parliament.
It is indeed too late for the Education Ministry to claim
that the Education Development Blueprint is easily available from its planning and policy research division to
any interested member of the public (Sin Chew Jit Poh) – for
if it was
so, can the Education Ministry explain why the DAP had to take two weeks,
including several press statements criticizing and bludgeoning it for lack of
professionalism, before we were given copies of the blueprint?
The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad, first unveiled the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 ten months ago last October, and the Cabinet approved the Blueprint more than a year ago in June last year.
Would the Education Ministry claim that the Blueprint is
easily available from its planning and policy
research division if the DAP had not made an issue of its
inaccessibility and unavailability in the past four days?
I wish today to call on the Education Minister, Tan Sri
Musa Mohamad and his officials to stop equivocating and to come out with
a clear statement on whether the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 is a
mere draft which allows for public input and policy proposal alterations or
whether it had been adopted as a 10-year policy document by the Cabinet last
June, giving only room for public inputs on its implementation.
Musa’s first public reference to the education blueprint
to provide quality education for all schools, and its approval by the Cabinet,
was in Langkawi on 25th
June 2001 in his remarks to reporters after the opening of a three-day forum on
the 21st century format for teacher education attended by more than
80 principals and deputy principals of teacher training colleges nationwide.
Musa said that the blueprint had just been approved by the Cabinet the
If the Cabinet had already approved the Education
Development Blueprint 2001-2010 as a 10-year policy document, giving only room
for public inputs on its implementation, it is most dishonest and irresponsible
for the Education Ministry to put up the pretence that public feedbacks on the
policy aspects of the blueprint are still welcome – for they would invariably
be ignored and head straight for the waste-paper basket!
In fact, this was the very point I made in a media statement on 4th July 2001, after a week of total silence without the Education Ministry providing more information about the new 10-year education masterplan.
This is what I said last July:
“This is a most unprofessional manner in preparing, announcing and launching a national education masterplan for the next decade in the era of information technology, when there should have been the fullest public interaction, participation and consultation at every stage of the process so that it is the product of a national consensus and not the idea of some bright sparks in the Education Ministry completely divorced from the problems and reality on the ground.
“The manner in which the national education masterplan is being drafted and implemented does not belong to the era of the knowledge-based economy, when in all the advanced nations, knowledge is supplanting physical capital as the source of wealth and a nation’s prosperity in the new era will increasingly depend on human capital as compared to physical capital.
“The new education masterplan approved by Cabinet two weeks ago should be regarded as a draft and made public to be the subject of a national and special parliamentary debate later in the month, allowing for the fullest public input and feedback.”
I do not know whether it is because of this comment that
when he unveiled the Education Development Blueprint in October last year, Musa
welcomed public comments and said that the blueprint would be discussed by
various parties before a final draft is presented to the Cabinet.
But the Education Ministry had no intention whatsoever to
welcome public comments and feedbacks by putting in place a mechanism for such
interaction – and for the next 10 months, the Education Development Blueprint
2001-2010 virtually disappeared from public consciousness until the DAP
brought it back to national focus at the DAP education forum in Kuala
Lumpur on May 23, and continuously after.
The DAP had called for a high-powered all-party committee to reach a national consensus on the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 to build a world-class education system and promote national unity and to deal with the various proposed changes to the 45-year Malaysian education system, such as:
The P-12 system, defined as pre-school and 12 years of school, to shorten the current 13-year school system to 12.
Shortening the secondary school period from five to four years.
The abolition of the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination for Form Three students.
Streaming into arts and science at Form Two instead of Form Four.
It was a great surprise that the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 was never tabled in Parliament for a debate, and when the June meeting of Dewan Rakyat came and went without any sign of the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010, the DAP decided to ask for copies of the blueprint directly from the Education Ministry – and the rest is history.
Two great surprises were in store when I saw the report.
Firstly, there was no reference whatsoever to the future development of Chinese
and Tamil mother-tongue education, raising the question as to how the MCA,
Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers
could in Cabinet approve the
Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 which completely ignores the
right to fair and equitable
development of Chinese and Tamil
primary schools for the next decade, while justifying the continued neglect and
unfair development and allocations of funds all these decades.
Secondly, the 10-year Education Development Blueprint does not look like a draft at all, but a full-fledged masterplan as a policy document for the next 10 years with room only for public inputs on its implementation.
For each chapter on “Pendidikan Prasekolah dan Rendah”, “Pendidikan Menengah”, “Pendidikan Tertiari”, “Program Sokongan”, “Pembiayaan :Pendidikan”, “Pengurusan” and “ICT Dalam Pendidikan”, the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 contains a detailed “Implementation Strategy” and “Plan of Action” – signifying that the 10-year policy document had been accepted and is in full swing of implementation.
If so, why is the Education Ministry pretending that public feedbacks about the proposals of the 10-year Education Development Blueprint will be entertained when they will not be?