The secretive Education Ministry attitude in refusing to
make public the report of the Abdul
Rafie Mahat Committee on the use of English to teach mathematics and science
which was presented to the Cabinet last week is most deplorable, totally
unprofessional and most undemocratic.
My office had contacted the office of the Datuk Abdul
Mahat, the director-general of education, to confirm that Ahmad Rafie had
received my email invitation yesterday to the DAP Education Forums on the
Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall,
Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 28th
July 2002 (in English) and on
Monday, 29th July 2002 (in Mandarin) at 8 p.m., where he could also
explain the recommendations of the committee headed by him on the use
of English to teach mathematics and science for national schools from
Std. One, Form One and Lower Sixth from next year – and its proposal to
extend it to
Chinese and Tamil primary schools, although the final decision has been
deferred with the matter referred to
the Chinese and Indian Barisan Nasional component parties.
My secretary had also asked for a copy of the Abdul Rafie
Committee report, but was informed that it was still under study – and when it
was pointed out that the report had already been submitted to the Cabinet last
week, the “tai chee” art of stone-walling was trotted out, and my secretary
told that this would need “clearance” from the Education Minister, Tan Sri
This was the same “tai chee” art of stone-walling when
early this month, my office had asked the Education Ministry for copies of the
Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 which was approved by the Cabinet on
June 20, 2001 and unveiled by Musa in October last year – but no copies of the
Blueprint were available to MPs, political parties, educational organizations,
trade unions or interested NGOs for the past 13 months.
It was only after two weeks of public badgering and
bludgeoning through caustic media statements that the Education Ministry finally
gave copies of the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 to the DAP.
I hope the DAP does not have to go through the same process
of badgering and bludgeoning before common sense prevails in
the Education Ministry to
make public the Abdul Rafie Committee report for study and discussion by the
civil society, and in particular MPs, political parties, educational
organizations, trade unions, parents
The Education Ministry should have welcomed public interest
in the various educational reports, studies and proposals, instead of behaving
like high priests of ancient times who refused to share information to conserve
their power over others. But this
is the information age which elevates the right to information to one of the
fundamental rights in an information society where the cult of secrecy treating
the various educational studies and reports as official secrets are totally
alien and retrogressive.
I do not know whether the refusal to make public the full
report of the Abdul Rafie Committee on the use of English to teach mathematics
and science in all schools stems from a lack of confidence to convince
Malaysians that it is an educationally sound and highly professional study.
I would have thought that if the government is serious in wanting to check the decline of standard of English and to raise English proficiency in schools and universities, the first proposal that should be adopted is to make English a compulsory pass subject in all public examinations. Why has the Abdul Rafie committee and the Cabinet shied away from this proposal?
I challenge Abdul Rafie Mahat to attend the DAP education forums on Sunday and Monday to defend and justify his committee’s recommendations on the use of English to teach mathematics and science not only for national schools but also for Chinese and Tamil primary schools – and to prove that they are educationally sound and highly professional proposals.