DAP calls on government to institute comprehensive inquiry into the shockingly low quality and standard of education

Adjournment Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Ra’ayat on Wednesday, 16.8.1972.

DAP calls on government to institute comprehensive inquiry into the shockingly low quality and standard of education in Malaysian primary schools as demonstrated by the mass failures in last year’s Std. V Assessment Examination

The results of last year’s Standard V Assessment Examination for all language streams are shockingly poor. There were mass failures in all schools in the various subjects taken.

Thus, for national primary schools, on average 50% of the Malay students failed the science and mathematics subjects. For example, for Kedah, 62% of the students failed the mathematics paper and 55% failed the science paper.

Science and technology holds the key to the modernisation of the rural Malays and the elimination of Malay poverty and backwardness. The new generation of Malays, whether in towns or villages, should be taught to master the science and mathematics subjects in primary schools so that they will have a good basic foundation to lead a modern life.

Unless something radical and immediate is done to rectify the present situation where 50% of the national primary school pupils do not know a thing about science and mathematics after five years of free schooling, it is difficult to see how the rural Malay poverty and backwardness is going to be abolished, even for the next two generations.

The results of the Malay students in the national primary schools in other subjects, whether Bahasa Inggeris, geography-history or their mother tongue, Bahasa Malaysia II, are also shockingly bad.

Chinese, English and Tamil primary schools

The results of student in Chinese, English and Tamil primary schools are equally bad.

Thus, in Selangor’s national-type(Chinese) primary schools, 66% failed in Bahasa Malaysia I, 66% failed in Bahasa Inggeris I, 42% failed in mathematics, 36% failed in science, 48% failed in history-geography and 50% failed in Chinese language.

The English primary schools, which until recently pride themselves as superior to other language-stream schools, have also fallen greatly in standards.

Thus, if we take Selangor state again, one of the leading states, we find that 42% of the student in national-type(English) primary schools failed Bahasa Malaysia II, 40% failed Bahasa Inggeris II, 39% failed mathematics, 38% failed in science and 42% failed in geography-history.

The results of Tamil primary schools are generally even worse off than the other language stream schools. In Perlis, 90% of the students failed in mathematics and science, 80% failed in Bahasa Inggeris I and geography-history and 70% failed in Tamil.

It can thus be seen that the primary schools have deteriorated greatly in educational standards and quality, regardless of their language streams.

In fact, there are schools where not a single student could pass the Standard V Assessment examination last year!

Yet these 50% of the Std. V students, who couldn’t pass a single subject in last year’s examination, have been promoted to Std. VI, and will continue to be promoted upwards for another three years.

This is educational madness, for how is one to expect a student who has failed to grasp a single thing at Std.V level to know what he is learning in even higher forms. This is not only a waste of public funds, but a mental torture for the students.

No wonder there is such a high rate of drop-outs in the country, for such students who have failed to attain the grade expected of them are not being helped to make up for their gap in education by retention, but are cruelly forced upwards by the automatic promotion system.

This deplorable state of affairs has been going on for several years, and it is mal-education and mis-education at their worst.

What is even more deplorable is that there is a conspiracy of silence for the last few years to hide the unpleasant facts of the mass failures in Malaysian schools from the parents and the public. This is why, for the last few years, although the government and the ruling parties like the UMNO and MCA, knew about this shocking state of affairs, they had tried to hide the information and true facts from the parents. This, I describe as criminal irresponsibility and neglect of the new generation of Malaysians, for such action will wreck their future in adult life. I condemn the UMNO and MCA for this.

What can a youngster, who after 9 years of formal schooling, hasn’t acquired even a Std.III academic standard, do in society, or even to find a job?

The Ministry of Education should stop adopting an indifferent attitude to this very grave problem, which concerns the future welfare and livelihood of our sons and daughters, younger brothers and sisters.

On behalf of the DAP, I call on the government to institute a comprehensive inquiry into the shockingly low quality and standard of education in Malaysian primary schools as demonstrated by last year’s mass failures in the Assessment Exam nation, and to stop mis-educating and mal-educating our children.

Such an inquiry should have representatives, from parents, teachers’ organisation, political parties and educational bodies, for this is a national problem which, if it is to be solved, will need the co-operation and joint effort of the government, political parties, parents, teachers, and educationists.

I do not see there can be any argument about the pressing need of an inquiry. We shouldn’t be satisfied with our educational system until we attain a system where only 10% of our students fail to achieve the set grade in any school, and not as of now, where there are 50%, 60%, 80% and even 100% failures.