BY KAREN CHAPMAN
THE third report card highlights various measures implemented under the National Education Blueprint 2006-2010 in the first six months of this year.
THE emphasis of the National Education Blueprint 2006-2010 this year has been on new initiatives to prepare a platform for the transformation of education in 2010.
These include implementing pilot projects at the preschool and primary school level; a national assessment system; and technical and vocational education.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said a new curriculum at primary school-level would be introduced in 2010 to make it more holistic and less examination-oriented for pupils.
This would replace the existing primary school integrated curriculum (KBSR), which was first introduced in 1983, and subsequently reviewed in 2000.
“The new curriculum will be based on six key areas to produce holistic individuals,” he said, after releasing the third report card on the implementation of the Blueprint on Sept 25.
The six areas were communication, spiritual attitude and values, humanitarianism, literacy in science and technology, physical and personal development, he added.
The emphasis in Years One and Two, he added, would be on ensuring that pupils master reading, writing and arithmetic. Reasoning skills, scientific and ICT knowledge, and nurturing creativity would also be stressed.
In Years Three, Four, Five and Six, he said, the emphasis would be on acquiring more complex skills and knowledge.
At the preschool level, emphasis would be given to developing pupils’ social, emotional and cognitive skills. They would also be exposed to reading, writing, arithmetic and reasoning skills in preparation for school.
As of June this year, 2,263 preschool classes have been set up to benefit 56,575 pupils.
In line with the ministry’s plan to have preschool classes at each national school, he said another 704 preschool classes will be opened in 2009.
The ministry, he added, will also transform technical and vocational education to make it more relevant and attractive to students.
“Six strategies have been introduced, which include introducing a skills stream for those in Form One, strengthening the technical and vocational curriculum, increasing the involvement of professional bodies and industry and adding five new vocational schools in the five economic corridors,” he said.
Hishammuddin said the ministry was also transforming the national assessment system, moving away from centralised examination assessment to one that was more school-based.
He said suggestions on creating a database of students’ development, reducing the number of examination papers and subjects, and semester-based assessment, were being studied.
“A new assessment system has being piloted in 50 primary schools since June this year,” he said.
The main aim of the transformation, he added, was to make learning fun and to move away from an examination-oriented environment.
The Blueprint, launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in January last year, outlines the ministry’s plans to develop education over a five-year period in six key areas.
They are nation-building, developing human capital, strengthening national schools, bridging the education gap, improving the teaching profession, and accelerating excellence at educational institutions.
The third report card, like the first and second released last July and in March this year, highlights various measures taken by the ministry to implement the Blueprint.
“The implementation period of the Blueprint for the first six months of this year has been challenging, particularly with the economic downturn, inflation and the increase in fuel prices.
“Costs have increased by 20% and our ceiling amount has gone up by RM5.92bil. Nevertheless, the Government has continued to place emphasis on education,” Hishammuddin said.
Of the 17,356 development projects planned for the five-year period of the Blueprint, 4,280 projects have been completed and another 5,026 are in the process of being constructed.
Of the 320 action plans drawn up, 235 (or 73.43%) have achieved their targets.
Hishammuddin said the Education Ministry has been restructured to further improve its delivery system.
There are now three core sectors €” Policy and Education Development, Education Operations and Professional Development €“ after the restructuring which took effect from March this year.
“The realignment of roles and functions within each sector and division is to ensure there is no overlapping of duties so that each focus on their core fields” he said.
This will further provide an effective and systematic chain of command and line of authority, he added.
Hishammuddin said the restructuring had also created promotions and new posts.
District education offices have also been reorganised, which includes the setting up of eight new offices.
Strengthening the profession
Under the Blueprint, the Government has increased promotional opportunities for teachers and improved training programmes.
A total of 32,234 promotional posts for graduate and non-graduate teachers for the whole country have been created for 2009.
Based on projection, there is also a need for an additional 13,297 teaching posts for secondary schools and 19,807 for primary schools until 2012.
As of June this year, 9,503 posts have been approved for secondary schools while the remaining posts will be requested through next year’s budget expenditure.
Principals in schools with an enrolment of 1,750, or with Form Six classes, have been promoted to grade DG52 from DG48.
The new posts of senior assistant (Form Six) in secondary schools and senior assistant (special education) in primary schools were created with the grades of DG44 and DGA32 respectively.
Senior assistants in Grade B primary schools were also promoted from DGA29 to DGA32.
In terms of leadership training for cluster schools, Hishammuddin said 107 school heads have been sent overseas for this purpose.
As for cluster schools, he said, students of Malay College Kuala Kangsar and Tunku Kurshiah College may soon choose if they want to sit for the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
Both schools would be offering the IB from 2011.
“It will be up to the schools to decide if students can sit for one or both examinations,” he said.
In March last year, Hishammuddin said heads of cluster schools would be given autonomy in five key areas: human resources, school funds, student intake, teaching and learning, and examinations and evaluation.
Cluster schools have been defined in the Blueprint as excellent schools within an existing grouping, and each is supposed to be a role model for other schools.
The schools can apply for funding of up to RM500,000 to carry out various projects, and must also identify niche areas (curriculum and non-curriculum) that they want to focus on.
To date, Hishammuddin said the 30 cluster schools from the first batch had received half of their funding, with the rest to be given based on the performance of the schools.
Several of the cluster schools were already showing excellent results, he added.
The Star Online: 5 Oktober 2008