Malaysia Ranked 52nd in Global Education Ratings My 2 Cents View

World Class Education? Malaysia Ranked 52nd Again In Global Education Ratings

Published on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 11:19 
Written by Ashraf Wahab


KUALA LUMPUR – The biggest global ranking on education quality has just been published, but while the top five spots in the world is dominated by Asian countries – spearheaded by Singapore – our beloved Malaysia is languishing in a dismal position at 52 out of 72 countries.

The rankings, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) think tank, lists down 76 countries and has Singapore in first place, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Countries such as the UK and US didn’t fare too well, as they are positioned at number 20 and 28 respectively.

The analysis is based on test scores of 15 year-olds in maths and science and argues that the standard of education is a “powerful predictor of the wealth that countries will produce in the long run”.

This is not the first time OECD has come up with education rankings like this.

They have previously done rankings based on PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, but the focus then were on more affluent industrialised countries.

This latest league table includes a wider range of countries, with OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher calling it “the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education”.

The countries which made it into the top 20 rankings based on maths and science performance of 15-year-olds are as follows:

  1. Singapore
  2. Hong Kong
  3. South Korea
  4. Japan
  5. Taiwan
  6. Finland
  7. Estonia
  8. Switzerland
  9. Netherlands
  10. Canada
  11. Poland
  12. Vietnam
  13. Germany
  14. Australia
  15. Ireland
  16. Belgium
  17. New Zealand
  18. Slovenia
  19. Austria
  20. United Kingdom

Malaysia: World Class Education?

During the 2012 PISA rankings released two years ago, Malaysia was ranked 52nd out of 65 countries and performed the second worst in Southeast Asia behind the likes of Vietnam and Thailand.

Last year after the rankings were released, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar heavily criticised the Education Ministry and called for a reform on the country’s education system.

“I think our ministers also suffer from the same poor reading skills because I can see no developed country below Malaysia in the 2012 PISA ranking,” she said.

“Cosmetic transformations alone will not prepare our children to compete internationally. We must be brave and stop mixing politics into the education system,” she added.

Pandan MP RAfizi Ramli also agreed with Izzah, asking: “How does Vietnam, with limited resources, lesser infrastructure and an economy that is smaller than Malaysia’s, can have an education system that surpasses ours?”

In the new OECD ranking, Vietnam is placed at the 12th position, just like other Asian countries who are rated highly on the list , with the exception of Malaysia.

“If you go to an Asian classroom you’ll find teachers who expect every student to succeed. There’s a lot of rigour, a lot of focus and coherence,” says Schleicher.

“These countries are also very good at attracting the most talented teachers in the most challenging classrooms, so that every student has access to excellent teachers,” he added.

What’s in store next for Malaysia?

Questions remain on how seriously we should take these rankings.

Well, Schleicher gives us something to think about by saying: “Today’s 15 year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job.”

He goes on to add: “Poor education policies and practices leave many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession.”

Recently the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar called for the country to follow Singapore’s education system by using English as a medium of instruction.

“Singapore’s system has proven to be successful… (it has) helped to unite the races (there),” he said.

With Singapore coming out on top of the recent OECD rankings, this might actually prove his point!

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Related post:

1. Is our education system still 'world class'?

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