Putrajaya must be creative to arrest PISA decline, says Sarawak minister

Desmond Davidson

Sarawak Minister of Education, Innovation and Talent Development Roland Sagah (centre) says the state has pumped billions of ringgit into infrastructure, programmes and activities for education advancement. – Twitter pic, December 7, 2023.

SARAWAK Minister Roland Sagah said students should be allowed more time with their mathematics, reading, and science teachers while reducing time on other subjects in the wake of Malaysian students’ slump in last year’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

He said the Education Ministry “must start thinking outside the box” and give its highest priority to teaching reading, science and mathematics.

The Malaysian students’ score was below the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) organised test average.

PISA tests assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in mathematics, reading, and science. The local students were nowhere near the performance of students from neighbouring Singapore, Macao, Japan, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and Estonia.

Sagah expressed deep concern about the below-average PISA score and said the federal Education Ministry must be open to input, recommendations, and participation in educational programmes from the state education ministry.

“We have the same objectives,” he said.

“We, in Sarawak, are willing to complement the efforts by our federal counterparts as we have shown all these years.

“We have pumped billions of ringgit into infrastructure, programmes and activities for education advancement in the state.”

Sagah said all these efforts and resources would be wasted if efforts are not put in to address the decline in performance.

Sarawak, he said, will continue to place emphasis on the dual language programme.

“The teaching of science and mathematics in English is one of the initiatives we have put in.

Sagah also said the state’s initiative to introduce common assessment at Primary 6 is also its effort to gauge performance “so as to enable interventions where deemed necessary”.

He gave the assurance that the Sarawak government will continue to collaborate, complement and provide the necessary resources to improve the quality of education in the state”.

In the PISA tests, the Malaysian students’ average scores in mathematics were below the country’s best-ever scores in 2012. – December 7, 2023

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