Education groups say MoE not engaging on important matters, leaving many issues unresolved

Senior Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin (centre) speaks to a student during his visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan King George V in Seremban March 8, 2021. — Bernama pic

Senior Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin (centre) speaks to a student during his visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan King George V in Seremban March 8, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Groups involved with the nation’s education system today said their suggestions and requests for discourse with the Ministry of Education (MoE) have garnered little to no response, causing pertinent issues to remain pending, in some cases, for more than a year.

Leaders from both the Parent Action Group for Education (Page) and National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said they were unable to influence the MoE, during an online webinar conducted today by G25 Malaysia and Edunity Foundation titled, “Educational Challenges During Covid Times”.

“We have written to the minister, we have appealed to meet him, so that we are able to put forth our problems at the grassroots level,” said National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock, adding that it has yet to receive a date to meet.

“Two papers are pending, one is the needs of deaf teachers in our system, and then the problems plaguing our TVET (Technical and Vocational Education Training) education in the ministry. And we have a host of other issues.”

Tan said that all engagement by relevant parties on such matters had been conducted through the media.

“Of course, this is not good for us; we are just washing our dirty linen in public,” he said.

Tan, when contacted by Malay Mail, did not give a specific date for when his organisation first began reaching out to MoE.

Page chair Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim claimed to have experienced a similar situation to Tan, where suggestions which were given by her and her colleagues during their stint in the National Education Advisor Council (MPPK) from 2018 to 2020, have still yet to be implemented.

“In the end, no matter what anyone says, MoE has a mind of its own. They say they engage, but I’m talking about the MPPK which is the highest authority outside of the MoE, and even with our recommendations, no one is doing anything about it,” she said using the Malay acronym for the council.

“I understand that our recommendations are still sitting on the table of the minister of education, and I think it’s important that he looks at it now that we are approaching normalcy,” she added during the webinar, in reference to Education Minister Datuk Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

When contacted, Noor Azimah shared that among the most pertinent recommendations was the proposal to make passing the English subject compulsory in the SPM examinations.

“If you don’t meet the standards to pass your English exam, it’s going to be difficult for the rest of your life, if you want to be competitive in the employment market. We are trying to address graduate underemployment due to poor command of English,” she told Malay Mail.

She said other suggestions included providing Pendidikan Islam lessons in romanised letters to help those who are weak in the currently used Jawi language, along with a zero-reject policy for less able students.

Both Tan and Noor Azimah however did agree that the MoE has been preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have delayed its response to the groups.

The “Educational Challenges During Covid Times” webinar was hosted by veteran educationist Tan Sri Asiah Abu Samah to discuss topics such as the difficulties faced with online learning during the pandemic and the lack of internet connectivity nationwide.

Others invited to be part of the webinar’s panel were Education director-general Datuk Habibah Abdul Rahim and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek.

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