Education Continues to be Prioritised Under Najib’s New Cabinet
Irrespective of how much the Opposition might have enjoyed exaggerating what it called a 'divided nation' over the past two weeks, it is clear that Malaysians of all backgrounds still share plenty of goals.
We want safe streets, abundant jobs and a solid foundation for our children. Indeed, education was one of the key issues ahead of GE13, stressing its importance to the rakyat.
Malaysians voted to see an improvement in the grasp of both Bahasa Malaysia and English among students. They voted to see English become a compulsory SPM pass subject nationwide. They voted for more and better-trained teachers who weren't constrained by bureaucracy.
True to his promise, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made sure education and young people were on top of his agenda when he fielded his cabinet last week.
From Tan Sri Muhyiddin who reprises his role as Education Minister, albeit with an enlarged portfolio, to Khairy Jamaluddin who deservedly took the top spot in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Najib is sending a strong message to parents that their children will have enough opportunities.
One of the most notable developments was the merging of the Education and the Higher Education Ministries, both of which will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin.
Recognising the wide-ranging educational reforms he has undertaken, the merger has been well met by educators, with schools, colleges and universities across the country applauding it.
"With the merger, our education system will be stronger because the Education Ministry will no longer plan only up to the secondary school system and then leave it halfway, where the Higher Education Ministry will have to pick it up," suggested The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng.
"This collaboration can certainly strengthen Malaysian education."
Universiti Malaysia Sabah Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah meanwhile said the new system would cut down on red tape, providing a better-managed system that would benefit the so-called 'cradle to career' approach.
"I have confidence that the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, with his vast experience and knowledge, will improve the sector to greater level," he said.
Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association president Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid echoed the positive outlook.
"The merging of the two should help accelerate education levels to the highest level of global excellence. It can help to make us excellent and accelerate our agenda of 2020 and beyond if conceptualised and managed properly," he said.
"The leaders within the education and higher education must have one mind, one heart and one vision to achieve this dream together.
Given Muhyiddin's close involvement in drawing up the lauded 2013-2025 National Education Blueprint, his purview in the new Ministry will give him a clear path to implementing policy and sending Malaysia well on the way towards meeting Barisan Nasional's manifesto targets.
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