KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia requires a transformation of its entire education system to meet its high aspirations in an increasingly competitive global environment.
He said this would require an entirely new perspective so that students would be able to develop skills needed for the 21st century.
To this end, he said, the government had crafted the Malaysia Education Blueprint, providing a comprehensive plan for a rapid and sustainable transformation of the country's education system through to 2025.
In the preface of the blueprint launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today, Najib said: "By building on the range of initiatives introduced as National Key Result Areas, it sets out the fundamental changes required.
"From how we approach student learning, the way we recruit, train and reward our teachers and principals right through to how the Ministry of Education itself operates, it lays a process for that change."
"And in doing so, it lays our clear improvement on the factors that really matter, along every step of this journey," Najib said, adding that the targets were ambitious, but entirely achievable.
Najib noted that they included ensuring universal enrolment from preschool to upper secondary education in 10 years; halving the achievement gaps between the rich and the poor, urban and rural, and between the states that form Malaysia in 10 years.
The others are rising from the bottom-third to the top-third of countries in international assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 15 years; and building an education system that gives children an appreciation of their unique identity as Malaysians.
"This will be achieved with due prudence and care for the resources allocated, every single ringgit spent must be directed towards improving student outcomes," Najib said.
The prime minister acknowledged that transforming the education system would not be easy as it would likely encounter a number of challenges along the way.
Nevertheless, Najib said, the government, Education Ministry and he himself were committed to delivering these goals.
"And hand in hand with the rakyat (people), I've every confidence that we'll persevere and deliver. From individual parents to members of the local community to the private sector, we all have a role to play and a personal stake in improving our education system," he added.
Covering the period from 2013 to 2025, the blueprint offers a vision of the education system and student aspirations that Malaysia both needs and deserves.
It suggests 11 strategic and operational shifts that would be required to achieve that vision.