KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Bernama) -- Despite an improvement in Malaysian student performances over several decades, there are growing gaps between Malaysia's education system and that of other countries.
According to the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched today by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the risks were reflected through the latest study of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Based on the last published cycle of TIMSS results 2011, thirty-five and 38 per cent of Malaysian students failed to meet the minimum proficiency level in Science and Mathematics, which is two to four fold up from seven per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, in 1999.
The result was also discouraging based on the 2009 PISA assessment cycle (PISA 2009+), the first time Malaysia took part, whereby the country was placed in the bottom three of 74 participating countries, below the international and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) averages.
"Almost 60 per cent of the 15-year-old Malaysian students who participated in PISA failed to meet the minimum proficiency level in Mathematics, while 44 and 43 per cent did not meet the minimum proficiency levels in reading and science, respectively," it said.
The blueprint said the PISA 2009+ results also showed that scores of Malaysian students were falling far behind those in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai (China) as though students in those countries have had three or more years of schooling than the Malaysian students.
Over the past two decades, the international student assessment, such as PISA and TIMSS, has emerged as a means of directly comparing the quality of educational outcomes across different systems.
"These assess a variety of cognitive skills such as application and reasoning," it said.
Even though the TIMSS and PISA results are a cause for concern, according to the blueprint, there are still numerous instances of students and schools across Malaysia that are performing on a level comparable to international standards, in terms of academic and non-academic measures.
These include the Malaysian students' international achievements such as the gold medal achievement at the Eighth International Exhibition for Young Inventors in Thailand and the Invention and New Product Exhibition in the United States, last year.
However, an equally important objective for the education system is to ensure that student outcomes are equitable, among others, the gap between urban and rural schools, between national and national type primary schools, as well as gender.
The gap between rural and urban schools has dropped by five and two percentage points, respectively, over the past six years while the gap between the national and national-type schools is also closing.
In contrast, the gender gap is both significant and increasing, having widened over the last five years, with girls consistently outperforming boys at every level, it said.