Shortfalls in delivery system

Sunday July 1, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/1/education/11502720&sec=education

LET’S HEAR IT

THE Education Revamp Committee is reviewing and deliberating on nine areas of our education system. “Delivery and administrative system of the Education Ministry” is one area.

If delivery is taken to mean the Ministry’s successes in delivering promises and achieving set targets, then it must be congratulated and lauded for having delivered on most counts. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement.

First, the Ministry should refrain from indiscriminately quoting statistics to justify, rationalise or neutralise some “bad” happenings in its system. Improperly used, statistics can misinform. As the saying goes: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

Let me illustrate. Our student population totals 5.1 million and the number of schools stands at 10,019. [Statistics as stated in the Ministry’s website.]

So, to hear education officials say that student discipline problems involve less than 0.1% of the overall student populace is to not “deliver” and address the problem in its correct perspective.

Second, when a problem crops up in school, very often a committee is set up with the task of investigating and submitting a report to the Ministry for deliberation and action. The composition or setup of some of these committees at times calls into question their neutrality and impartiality. Take, for example, the occasional fighting/bullying reported in a school dormitory.

Normally, the school principal heads the investigating committee. Now, how impartial can a principal be in reporting “dirt” found in his own backyard? Would his report indicate inefficiencies in the school administration?

Even when Ministry officials turn up for on-the-spot inspection (turun padang), they are given guided tours. Chances are, all blame will fall on the students. So, does the report honestly deliver the truth to the authorities?

Third, some “little Napoleons” in schools do not strictly follow the directives from above. They implement Ministry policies according to their own myopic interpretations at best, at their whims and fancies at worse. This detracts from the noble intentions of the Ministry.

A problem still bothering some parents is the implementation of the “soft-landing” approaches in some schools in the aftermath of PPSMI (the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English). What is happening in some school classrooms and laboratories is certainly non-delivery of the Ministry’s soft-landing directives.

Granted that schools need some leeway or even liberty to run in accordance to local specifics and peculiarities, a better check-and-balance mechanism should be put in place to enhance the Ministry’s delivery system.

LIONG KAM CHONG