Dismal showing by Malaysian students in PISA 2012

Posted on: December 11, 2013, by :

The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking showed that Malaysian students’ collective performance was way below par and had in fact retreated from previous PISA ranking in 2009.

PISA was carried out in 2012 over 510,000 plus students, aged between 15 and 16 years across 65 nations.


On the whole, Asian nations did better than most other countries. Singapore took the number two spot. Thailand was 2 places above Malaysia at 53rd. Key findings of PISA 2012 can be downloaded from OECD’s site.

The funny thing was, compared to Singapore and Thailand, which spent 3.5% and 3.8% of their respective GDP on education, Malaysia’s 5.1% GDP spending (all were 2010 data from the World Bank) seemed to have very low Returns on Investment! Budget 2014 will see Malaysia spending 21% of her expenditure on education. With all these spending, we should expect better performances unless the expenditure has not been targeted at what that matters most: the learning outcomes of students.

Already there have been calls for urgent review by the media and politicians. But regardless of all the debates, unless the power that be accepts that there is an urgent need to review education policies and implementations that have been overly politicized, all the huff and puff will just be steam and nothing will stop the rot. It was not long ago that the government insisted that Malaysia has one of the best education system in the world. If we are playing the ostrich, we are forever not seeing the light with our rear end lay bare. Unless we take PISA 2012 ranking seriously like the Finns and Swedes do and face reality with courage, we will be blamed by future generations of Malaysians for our inaction.

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