From Good to Great - How Can Autonomy and Accountability Be Used to Allow High Performing Schools / Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs) to Innovate]

During the launch of the MEB Annual Report 2018, two fora were held to deliberate on pressing topics surrounding education. The topic of the second forum was ‘From Good to Great - How Can Autonomy and Accountability Be Used to Allow High Performing Schools / Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs) to Innovate’. The OECD’s PISA in Focus 2011 report had claimed that school autonomy and accountability, when done hand-in-hand, had resulted in greater student performance. This claim is backed by the World Bank Group, who had developed their SABER platform to highlight policies that matter to affected schools to facilitate the increase in school autonomy and accountability. Similarly, a report by IDEAS had outlined how Malaysia could benefit by learning from autonomy and accountability in Ghana and Mexico, through the devolution of bureaucratic control, the recognition and support of stakeholder groups, and the designing of new models of evaluation that are aligned with key aspirations.

Zooming in on Malaysia, this forum explores what are our current efforts in fostering autonomy and accountability, the role of data and technology, as well as addressing the optimism gap in society.


PADU: Let’s kickstart this forum by asking this simple question: why is autonomy and accountability important, and what are the ongoing efforts undertaken by MOE to achieve them?

Dato’ Saleh: Allow me to paint a picture of Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs) in Malaysia. There is an enormous diversity in the size of a student body, ranging from 15 students per HLI up to over 30,000 per HLI, and nearly 100 HLIs that have <100 students. When we speak about autonomy, we have to consider the differences in sizes and capability. This is the challenge we face from MOE. It is like playing with a kite; we release and pull, release and pull – while we want to give autonomy and accountability, we need to have certain regulations and guidelines.

As a result, some institutions feel like we are micromanaging them. But in fact, we are not. These guidelines exist to help those who do not know how to bring about autonomy and accountability. But somehow even a simple letter from MOE is seen as a binding instruction – this perception must be changed.

In an ideal world, MOE should only provide national aspirations, national targets, and national strategic directions. As for how we will execute it, that would be done through how we empower the HLIs.

So how have we have worked towards that ideal vision? We have prepared guidelines and playbooks – now we have 6 of them – and the universities are given a choice to either adopt it or use their own methods. We have also served as a platform to share best practices.

Of course, I would be wrong to say that we are absolutely not micromanaging, in some ways we need to. To quote an example, we are disallowing universities to have their in-house English language centres, even if this is a practice across the world. We are sending a signal to the universities that we are not ready to trust them – that more controls need to be set, that we need to benchmark against international standards like IELTS and TOEFL. But it is a journey that we are exploring together.


PADU: Thank you Dato’ Saleh for your insights. Moving onward to Danial, how has technology and data contributed to autonomy and accountability?

Danial: Allow me to get straight to the point with an example from the University of Georgia Tech. In this university, a lecturer was being set thousands of emails by students, and when he couldn’t respond on time, his students would drop out. A graduate team then created this AI teaching assistant called Jill Watson to answer student questions; the students weren’t even aware that Jill Watson was a robot and she was even nominated for an award by the students. However, not all uses of AI will lead to good results. There is a cautionary tale by USC Hybrid, where AI had taken over the role of teachers and the teachers were put on the sideline. As a result, test scores started declining. When the management returned the funding to the teachers to choose the tech they needed for teaching, test scores started returning to normal. It’s never first and foremost about technology – technology is always a means to an end and it’s not for everyone.


PADU: That is heartening to hear. However, the one thing we know machines do better than humans is in avoiding irrational scepticism. Nik, how do you think about the optimism gap in education?

Nik: We must be real, and we must be bold. In the face of scepticism, we have to ask – what are we sceptical about? Is it the quality of our education? Or the capacity, or the yield? For the parents out there in the audience, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is this: are we happy with the level of academia that comes out of secondary school – are we looking at the string of As or are we looking at holistic development?


PADU: We do need to look at more than pure academics, and this could be achieved by granting more autonomy. How does autonomy look like in practice?

Nik: In Yayasan AMIR, we give autonomy to our 90 schools across 6 different dimensions – the curriculum, the staffing, procurement, student policies, utilisation of funds, and the timetable and school calendar. Across 9 years, we have been amazed by looking at PGBs who really understand the needs of their schools. Equally, there are others still who don’t know the needs of their schools. So autonomy is like a rubber band – are we ready for it, and how far can we stretch it?

Danial: I know of a teacher who did a fantastic project. When I asked her how she did it, she simply told me, ‘Buat je’. However, when I asked other teachers if they could replicate the same project, they said that they couldn’t do it. There are a spectrum of teachers with different responses, and different levels of management have different levels of bureaucracy – which lead to different exercises of autonomy.


PADU: Moving over to taking questions from the floor, we begin with our first one: Why are so many Malaysian graduates seeking job opportunities overseas, and is the job market unsustainable for our fresh and future graduates?

Dato’ Saleh: Firstly, where is the evidence of that? Secondly, I think we should be proud if our graduates are marketable overseas. I think the more important question is whether we are future-proofing our graduates.

Danial: To add on to that, I don’t think the job market is unsustainable, but its demands are changing. The World Economic Forum 2018 Future of Jobs Report estimated that there are 75 million jobs that will be lost to automation, and 133 million new roles that will emerge as technology advancers. The question here is, are we preparing our children for the 75 million jobs that are going to be lost, or for the 133 million technology advancer jobs? The short answer is that we are heading towards that direction, but the long answer, well, let me give you an anecdote. OpenLearning had recently tried to hire an engineer, but after many interviews we couldn’t find anyone qualified. Now of course anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be used to generalise, but at least from our standpoint, we still have a ways to go.


PADU: Another question from the floor: For autonomy, schools need to sustain themselves – they need to manage it like a business. Where are we in the context of this?

Nik: One of the things we do in trust schools is that every year we ensure that the school has a development plan similar to a business plan. When you have autonomy, you have the power to decide how and when to use your resources. Of course, we need to build the capacity for autonomy. In Kedah, we have a programme where we try to marry the school system to the overarching transformation programme.

Dato’ Saleh: When we speak about autonomy, I think there are two phases to autonomy: first in delivering the content of education and second in running the education institution. I don’t know why we think that when we give autonomy, schools immediately have to generate their own funds. Can we give them the funds, and trust them to deliver the content? This holds true for schools and much more for universities. If we first give autonomy we need to give it in content delivery.


PADU: Our next question is for OpenLearning: Should there be a central coordinator to manage technology used in classrooms, or should private firms be given access to schools/JPN directly.

Danial: Technology should be democratised. We should empower the schools but we cannot deny that they need to collaborate with the private sector. I have seen some people in schools trying to create new platforms, but they would not do it if you can get it off the shelf. What’s unfortunately lacking in Malaysia is good content – and nobody can guide that except for Malaysian teachers and lecturers, but they do need the technical expertise with private partners.


PADU: Following that we have a question for Nik: How would you rank a trust school’s autonomy against a non-trust school, and is the impact significantly higher given more autonomy?

Nik: In our experience, out of the 6 types of autonomy, schools seem to be happiest with financial autonomy. But to answer the question of whether or not there is a significantly higher impact, BPSH is already working on giving more autonomy to schools, so there is less of a difference now. I would ask one question for schools getting ready for autonomy: If autonomy is given to you, what sort of autonomy would you need? We need to assess school needs; too often what we do is prescribe solutions instead of truly understand root causes.


PADU: Our final question is this: How confident are you with the following statement and its relation to accountability and autonomy? “HLIs are free from politically appointed board members”

Saleh: Some of us have the misconception that appointment cannot be done by ministers, but I argue that we need to differentiate between a minister’s appointment and a politically motivated appointment (via a party, for example). Ministers will stand guided by professionals and will be held responsible for those whom they appoint, and so it is different from a politically-motivated appointment. Furthermore, we have been shifting the process of appointment by positions to appointment by skillsets according to university’s needs. Board members also have to coordinate with each other and should follow a diverse set of backgrounds and skills.

Danial: This is an issue that is very close to my heart; some of you would have known that I was involved in the UKM4 case. One question I would ask, to board members but especially to younger people is this: If the government gave you autonomy and power, how would you exercise it? Will you be mature, or will you be hot-blooded?



Info on the panellists:

YBhg. Dato' Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Saleh Jaafar is currently the Deputy Director General of Higher Education in the Department of Higher Education, MOE. He acted as the Deputy Chair during the development of the MEB (Higher Education) and is currently tasked to implement the initiatives outlined for private higher education institutions. Over the years, Saleh has played many significant roles across several Ministries related to research, education and professional practices. During his service, he played a key role in leading the development of rating instruments such as MyRA, MyQuest, Polyrate, and MySpekk, many of which are still being used today. In 2017, he was tasked to revise and develop a new system for SETARA, a rating instrument for higher learning institutions. Saleh is also a registered engineer under the Board of Engineers Malaysia, and a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences as well as a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is the Founding Council Member European Silk Roads University Consortium (ESRUC) and the Founding Member of the University Networks for Tropical Agriculture. Saleh believes in bringing out the best in people and believes that everyone can create value for the organization. His leadership style can be summed up in three words: Listen, Learn and Lead.


Danial Rahman holds an undergraduate law degree from the International Islamic University Malaysia and Masters in Law from the University of Oxford. He is currently Global Head of Team CSI, which stands for Communications and Strategic Initiatives at, an Australian education technology firm. Previously, he was a constitutional and human rights lawyer, after which he joined Malaysia’s Education and Higher Education Ministry as a communications advisor. Over the last five years, Danial has been a columnist for TheStar, Malaysia’s No.1 English daily, having written over 70 articles on education, technology and society. Danial is a former national debate champion and has trained policy makers, academicians and students all around the world on public speaking and critical thinking. In his free time, Danial manages the Instagram account for his 2 cats, named Ram and Mo.


Nik M. Fahmee or Nik as he prefers to be called, is a father of four – he says this is his priority in life and his job at heart. He graduated as a valedictorian from his University and worked briefly as a computer statistician in Canada, during the birth of the Internet. He then worked with Mesiniaga IBM TACTICS. He was invited to join as a pioneer member of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative. Nik has worked on several other initiatives with the United Nations Development Programme for the Asia Pacific Development Information Programme and later joined the Malaysian AIDS Council as the Executive Director. He is a social entrepreneur, as he is also the co founder and currently the Managing Director of arise Asia - a bespoke consulting and programme design development and implementation outfit. He designs, develops and critically evaluates programme implementation and is currently the Director of Yayasan AMIR for the Trust Schools Programme. He loves to read difficult and passionate authors.

Enrolment to Excellence - How Do We Translate Showing Up to School to Doing Well In School]

During the launch of the MEB Annual Report 2018, two fora were held to deliberate on pressing topics surrounding education. The topic of the first forum was ‘Enrolment to Excellence - How Do We Translate Showing Up to School to Doing Well In School’. According to the United Nations, enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91%, but figures for literacy and numeracy are still low. As such, the UN’s focus on Education (as the 4th Sustainable Development Goal) are expressed in their targets, from expanding access to supplying qualified teachers.

Similarly, in the Malaysian context, enrolment is a major challenge, reflected in the transition rates to upper secondary of some communities including the Orang Asli community and the Special Education Needs community. Malaysia’s commitment to addressing this is reflected through the system aspirations of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB), which include both Access and Quality. 1st Transformative Shift in the MEB speaks of enhancing access of education pathways and benchmarking the quality of our education to international standards.

This forum explored how these aspirations look like in practice, from current efforts, the role of data and technology, as well as how to address the burgeoning scepticism in society.


PADU: We want to begin by establishing some context. What are the ongoing efforts undertaken by MOE to address enrolment in education?

Datin Haryati: Whether it’s through the Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan (PIPP) or the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB) – each one of the Ministry’s blueprints address these focuses. From 2013 to 2018, enrolment has increased at preschool (9%), primary (4%), and secondary (1-2%) levels. In the same period, enrolment to inclusive education programmes have also grown almost four-fold from 9.6% to 40.88%.

At the same time, we have been targeting students at risk of dropping out. After screening 4.7 million students we found out that about 940 (0.02%) primary students and 35,000 (0.75%) secondary students are at high-risk of dropping out. There are so many dimensions to them being at risk – be it the distance from their homes to schools, household income, or the status of their parents.

As such, we have rolled out programmes and projects like the Garis Panduan Mengurus Murid Berisiko Cicir di Sekolah (GPMBC) which serves as a reference for the school administration to identify and assist students at risk of dropping out at an early stage. MOE also developed an accompanying module (Modul Serlahkan Keunggulan Diri, SUDI) consisting of intervention activities. Program Sifar Murid Cicir (PSMC) was started in several states to tackle dropout issues in 2018 by collaborating with multiple stakeholders through a special task force. Its success has caused the programme to expand to all states beginning April 2018. Furthermore, MOE is establishing smart partnerships between state governments and private sectors to aid low-income families with educating their children. From a policy standpoint, the Zero Reject Policy ensures that all undocumented children or those with special needs are not turned away from school.

One of the exciting plans for the future is that the Ministry has begun drafting an amendment to the Education Act 1996, whereby compulsory education will be extended from six years to eleven years.


PADU: That sounds quite comprehensive. What about the ongoing efforts taken to tackle excellence and quality in education?

Datin Haryati: One of the recent moves was to introduce Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in curricular and co-curricular activities to encourage students to think, communicate and make wise decisions, as well as introducing 21st Century Learning (PAK21) which encompasses the five elements of communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and values and ethics throughout our pedagogy, curriculum, and assessments.

Besides that, we have also been stimulating students’ interest in STEM through an enhanced curriculum and new learning approaches, sharpening teachers’ skills and abilities to teach and facilitate STEM subjects and activities, and building public and student awareness and understanding of STEM through the #STEM4ALL campaign.

We’ve also given extensive focus on expanding TVET access through the single quality assurance scheme and expanded our partnerships with the industry. Not forgetting the Orang Asli children, we are strengthening their access through programmes like the Program Mari ke Sekolah.

For each one of our interventions, MOE has taken on a multi-pronged strategy, looking into students, teachers, infrastructure, curricula, and the leadership.


PADU: These are great efforts, and as we move into the future, Alina, how can technology and data be used to encourage enrolment and excellence?

Alina: I just want to build on what Datin Haryati was saying about our current efforts. Honestly, I have been very impressed by the progress of the curriculum; not many are aware that our primary students are coding with microcontrollers, that our secondary students are coding websites…there are subjects like Asas Sains Komputer and Reka Bentuk Teknologi now that help to change our students from passive users into active users, to make new technology. But what can this technology do?

AI brings many different technologies that help teachers personalize their pedagogy and assessments. For example, with AI, you could have personalised questions for students drawn from a question bank, which will help teachers assess a student’s strengths instead of just their weaknesses. But like all kinds of education, it needs to be done right – we need to equip our teachers to teach effectively with technology in schools.

In my experience, especially with B40 classes, technology pushes the students to learn. When they see auto doors in a shopping mall, they ask – how does that work? So we learn about sensors, electronics, etc. Technology inspires students to go to school as long as it caters to their needs.


PADU: That’s really insightful, Alina. Let’s talk about quality: when you teach technology to underprivileged/B40/undocumented students, do you see any changes?

Alina: I definitely see an interest to learn more. For example, when I was teaching in Penang, a majority of my students actually chose to pursue computer science. They saw the potential of technology. We know our country is in high need of computer and data scientists; this is how we can groom them for the future.


PADU: We would very much like to do that for Malaysia, but we have over 10,000 schools, and a small proportion still struggles to have internet access. How can we reach out to these schools to teach them technology or 21st century skills?

Alina: Now this point is really important for everyone to understand – that no technology, no matter how good, can replace a good teacher who is present in the classroom, who knows their kids. You may not be able to learn the internet, but you can teach the computational skills. Coding is all about logic.

We need to not just rely on things that are not certain like internet connection, but on our own pedagogical and teaching skills.


PADU: That’s great, and indeed – nothing can replace a good teacher. But amidst all our stellar teachers and our efforts to transform the education system, there are still pockets of people who are sceptics. Dato’ Satinah, how do we address this scepticism towards education?

Dato’ Satinah: When we talk about scepticism, we have to first acknowledge that it is very much present, and that it is not new; it is often inherited from many years back - from previous administrations or efforts. But what causes this scepticism? Firstly, there’s doubt – that what we have is not good enough. Then there are our own opinions, where we believe we know what is best.

I would like to give an example of PISA, which is an international benchmark. We cannot compare ourselves to Singapore but what about Vietnam, who are among the top 10? Surely there is something they are doing that we are not. Then there is the curriculum. Don’t begin to mention PPSMI – it is a dangerous word. Flip flop. There is a lot of pressure on both sides.

We have to address the issues that lead to scepticism. Firstly, one of the biggest issues are our policies – our goalposts keep moving, so it is difficult for the Rakyat to understand anything. I am really grateful that Dr Maszlee is not changing the Blueprint so we can still achieve our targets. As a result, many parents are sending their kids to international schools. How do we address this? This can’t be addressed just by policymakers, teachers alone, but together with the community.

Next there is teacher quality. Teachers are not the same as before; teachers today have much greater access to information. But when I spoke to some teachers in the Klang Valley, they were telling me that they just want to teach. But they have been bogged down by so many other things.

I think reports and the media play an important role. I always talk about irresponsible media reporting. There is no sincerity in some of them about reporting things in education. This attitude needs to be curbed. Even for that matter, we constantly read that everything that has been done is not good enough.

All of us must play a constructive role. instead of just criticising, we have to provide some input. Most importantly, our intentions must be correct. It must come from the heart. The job of being a teacher is next to the job of God.


Info on the panellists:

Datin Haryati Mohamed Razali is the Head of the Education Indicator and Analysis Unit, MOE, and has worked for MOE since 2010. Previously, she served as a teacher in Victoria Institution for 10 years. She has almost 20 years of experience in education, from being a practitioner to policy planner. Currently, she is the head of the Education Indicator and Analysis Unit in the Educational Data Sector of EPRD, responding to the statistical needs of various stakeholders to measure the progress towards national and international goals such as UN’s SGD4.

Ms. Alina Amir is one of the co-founders of Arus Education, a social enterprise focusing on tech education and hands-on skills. With Arus, Alina has worked on developing teaching modules for Asas Sains Komputer and Sains Komputer, conducted trainings for IPGM lecturers on Micro:bit, and run numerous trainings on tech content for pre- and in-service teachers. Arus also runs coding and programming classes for B40 communities and free after school classes for students in hopes to provide them with opportunities and skills in the tech industry. Alina was a management consultant before going into teaching where she taught for 4 years in a national school. She has a degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois and a post-graduate diploma in Education from Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Dato’ Satinah Syed Saleh is currently the Council Member for the National Education Advisory Council 2018-2020. In addition, she also holds many other responsibilities – she is a Board Member for Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris; Director for Melewar Learning Resources and Managing Director for Alpha Alsagoff Edu Resources Sdn. Bhd. She is also a member of the Board of Governors for St. John International School KL, the British International School KL, and the Tenby Group of Schools. When she is not busy transforming education, she contributes her ideas and views in education via conferences, seminars, roundtable discussions and forums both locally and internationally. Her experience as a former teacher, lecturer, and senior official at the Ministry of Education, alongside her involvement in the reviewing of the Malaysian Education System leading up to the MEB and her experience as former Education Advisor to Khazanah Nasional for 7 years has contributed significantly to her present-day expertise. Satinah graduated in Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Malaya and received her Diploma in Education, and subsequently earned her Master of Science from Loughborough University, UK.

STEM4All Stars competition



MOE and PADU is organising the #STEM4All Stars Video Campaign to highlight the relevance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for all. It is also organised to feature how STEM benefited well-being of humanity through the contributions and achievements of our Malaysian STEM professionals such as scientists, engineers, technologists, innovators, and STEM-entrepreneur.

The video campaign serves to engage students’ interest in STEM and amplify it with hopes to increase STEM intakes in the future in line with national aspiration to prepare our children for the Industrial Revolution 4.0. We hope to expose the students to careers in STEM fields that they are not familiar with and highlight the importance of STEM towards nation building.

MOE school students between the age of 11 to 15 years old are invited to participate in this campaign by submitting a short video on their STEM idol in Malaysia. Submission period is between 17th June till 19th July 2019. Find out more at

Creative participants will stand a chance to meet with renowned Malaysian STEM figures during Minggu Sains Negara celebration and be showcased on Astro!


Boosting English standards

The directive for non-English language option teachers to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MueT) has been controversial. Education Ministry deputy director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim explains why the test is a crucial component in the roadmap to improve english proficiency among Malaysians. 

A STRONG command of English enhances employability. It’s a fact the Education Ministry knows only too well.

The English Language Education Reform in Malaysia: The Roadmap 2015-2025, is aimed at improving English language based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

But, if key players - especially teachers - are not up to par, implementation will be a problem.

There was a lot of unhappiness when the ministry announced that English teachers must take the Malaysian University English Test (MUET). Why is there a need to do so?

Teachers need to be proficient in the English language in order to facilitate teaching and learning, as well as help students acquire targetted CEFR levels. It is only English language option teachers who have to take MUET and achieve at least C1 level. It is not compulsory for non-English language option teachers. However, if teaching English becomes the dominant subject of a non-English language option teacher, then the teacher should take MUET. A subject, such as English, becomes the dominant subject of teachers once they teach it more than three years and two-thirds of their time is devoted to teaching the non- option subject. The ministry has a programme called Add Option Intervention Programme (Pito) to help these non-option teachers improve teaching methods on the now-dominant subject.


So far, how have English option teachers fared in MUET?

The ministry has 41,676 English language option teachers. About 50% of the 41,676 teachers have sat for MUET. From the 50% who took the test, 67% achieved C1. The rest were at C2 level. We do not know the performance of the other 50% of teachers who have not sat for MUET. They have till December this year to take the test and notify us of their results. Meanwhile, we are still short of about 3,000 English language option teachers. We should have 44,924 of them. There are already plans to address the shortage.

Are there any programmes teachers can sign up for if they fail to achieve C1 level?

There are a number of English courses which are prepared and subsidised by the ministry to help them improve themselves. There are also ministry-approved materials available online for them to access before they sit for MUET. There is even an online moderator to help.

Why did the ministry choose to use MUET to benchmark teachers? Can teachers sit for other English proficiency tests?

MUET is already aligned to the CEFR and can be used to benchmark the proficiency level teachers are at. We encourage teachers to take MUET because it is based on local context, easily accessible, is offered three times yearly and only costs RM100 per test. Teachers can also sit for the British Council’s Aptis English test for RM280 and the International English Language Test System (IELTS) for RM850.

Teachers who want to sit for MUET have to pay from their own pockets. Shouldn’t the government subsidise this?We used to subsidise teachers taking the test from 2013 to 2018. But we have learned that for someone to develop, improve, and make a bigger impact, it is more effective when individuals take the initiative to do it themselves.

Plus, the investment  is small. Free things are often underappreciated. We want to encourage teachers to be responsible for self-development and growth, and invest in their professional development.

You said teachers play a key role in boosting English language education. How is the ministry preparing teachers for the task?

The Professional Up-skilling of English Language Teachers (Pro-ELT) is only available to English language option teachers. We have trained over 17,000 English teachers (including non-option English language and Pito teachers) through this programme.

Is the MUET requirement part of a bigger plan to improve English in the country?

Yes, it is part of our English Language Education Reform in Malaysia: The Roadmap 2015-2025, which is being used to align the whole of the English language programme and the education of English teachers to international CEFR standards.


What is the roadmap about?

It is a comprehensive plan for the systematic reform of English language education in Malaysia. It lays out the changes and improvements that needs to be done in the curriculum, teaching and learning, assessments, resources for teachers and students, and teacher training. Its goal is to bring about the transformation of English language education from preschool right up to tertiary education, including teacher education. It provides comprehensive guidelines for all stakeholders, including teachers. Using the roadmap, teachers can ensure that students achieve proficiency levels of international standards.

How did the roadmap come about?

The roadmap formalises the ministry’s on-going efforts to strengthen English proficiency, as encapsulated in the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening the English Language (MBMMBI) policy. It also provides a framework for the execution of plans proposed in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025.

How does the ministry assess English language proficiency?

By adopting the CEFR which distinguishes listening, reading, spoken interaction, spoken production and writing. Language proficiency is measured in relation to the five communicative skills on a scale beginning with A1 progressing to A2 (basic user); B1 and B2 (independent user); and C1, C2 (proficient user). Proficiency in each skill is defined at each level by a series of “can do” statements. This scale enables us to set targets for each stage of our English language programmes. Our English teachers must achieve at least C1 level, while English language teacher trainers must achieve C2 level.

What makes the CEFR an important benchmark?

Some 47 countries also benchmark their languages, and English in particular, to the CEFR. This makes it easier for employers - both local and international - to identify graduates’ language capacity. In a changing global landscape, it is important for our younger generation to master English. This allows them to compete in the international market. If we want our students to be good, we must ensure that teachers who teach and facilitate the process, have themselves achieved a higher level of English. This means that teacher trainers must also be better than teacher trainees.Some are still unclear about the CEFR. Can you clarify?CEFR describes language ability on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language. This makes it easy for anyone involved in language teaching and testing, such as teachers or students, to see the level of different qualifications. It is not a curriculum, no one can fail it. CEFR is a framework that can be used to benchmark the level of proficiency and the level of fluency of our students and teachers in line with international standards. It is used as a reference for the ministry to plan and create teaching and learning programmes. Employers can also use it as a reference when selecting a candidate to hire.

How is the roadmap progressing?

This is the sixth year of its implementation. The ministry has introduced a revised Primary

School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSR) and a new  Secondary School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSM) which was rolled out in 2017 for Year One and Form One respectively. This group of students (those in Form Three) will be sitting for PT3 this year. This will be a baseline for the ministry for the cohort that have gone through the CEFR aligned curriculum.

We have also noticed there is an improvement in English language among our young. There was a baseline study conducted by Cambridge English in 2013 and another study in 2017. When the first baseline study was carried out, there was a gap between the achievements of urban and rural area students. In the 2017 study, 40% of students exceeded the 2025 CEFR targets of B1 at secondary level. Some did even better. The study also showed that improvements were across rural and urban children.

Can the roadmap really boost English standards? How?

Yes, because we are going about it systematically. We are on target. It’s not just through the curriculum. We are also gradually building capacity and resources to support the implementation of the roadmap.



Delivering game-changing initiatives for national education

In March, PADU bagged an award for spearheading a student-centred learning process. What lies behind the 21st-century learning initiative?


A MALAYSIAN initiative to bring about the latest learning process into the classroom is gaining traction. At the same time, it is also getting the attention of folks from the wider circle of the education industry.

In March, an Education Ministry’s unit bagged an award for spearheading a student-centred learning process steered by the five elements of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and values and ethics, or 4C1V.

The 21st-century learning initiative, popularly known in the local education circle as Pembelajaran Abad ke-21 (PAK21), saw the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) winning Bett Asia’s “Game Changer” award.

The initiative was one of the four winners at the Bett Asia Awards 2019, an event organised by a unit of London-listed ITE Group plc.

The awards celebrate and reward creativity, innovation and leadership found throughout Asia Pacific’s education sector. The awards showcase inspiration and solutions to everyday challenges, which help students achieve educational excellence.

The judging panel for the award included Laos-based Panyathip International School MD John Gwyn Jones, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia provost/CEO Prof Mushtak AlAtabi, Hong Kong-based Nord Anglia International School principal Brian Cooklin and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran.

Problem and Solution

In essence, PAK21 defines the pertinent knowledge, competency and characteristics that students should embody to be competitively relevant and empowered to take on the challenges of 21st-century volatilities.

The initiative is a solution to a problem. It is a common perception that teachers nationally emphasise on academic results. This is at a time when the world has changed drastically, with 65% of primary school students anticipated to work in jobs that do not exist yet.

These are some of the questions that PADU and other units have been grappling with.

The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 has addressed the issues facing the nation’s education woes. It has determined 11 shifts to achieve the vision of raising the level of the education system into the 21st century.

The first shift demands that the ministry provides access to quality education that is comparable to international standards; and subsequently made available to all students.

The shift focuses on the aspect of quality which is directed towards the need to improve the learning standards of mathematics and science, the proficiency of languages in line with international standards and the quality of education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

To achieve this, the ministry needs to provide teachers with the ability to create a conducive learning environment and focus on the 21st-century learning or PAK21, according to the 2017 Annual Report for the blueprint.

It noted that the conventional teaching methods need to be changed to allow for a more creative and dynamic teaching and learning approach that is based on the content of the subject to accommodate the developing minds of the students.

It said the shift from teacher-centred teaching method to student-centred learning method in the 21st-century education presents new challenges to teachers and school leaders. Some of these challenges include learning that leads to higher order thinking skills, managing more dynamic learning space and utilising various teaching aids and technology-based resources to implement effective teaching and learning processes, relevant to the current needs of the students.

As such, it noted that teachers have to continuously improve their level of professionalism, in terms of knowledge and pedagogy, in order to remain relevant to the current and future needs. Continuous training is also provided to school leaderships to ensure that the management and administration of the school are strengthened to support the needs of teachers and students. The ministry also continues to encourage parents and communities to be directly involved in supporting schools to provide quality education to their children.

At the same time, it noted that the ministry needs to implement major changes to ensure the country’s education system is ranked among the best in the world.

Teachers’ Campaign

The most recent effort in pushing forward PAK21 is the national teachers’ campaign, seen as the first step in culture transformation and priority realignment. In a nutshell, it uses principles of behavioural science to turn PAK21 teaching into a “norm”.

The primary objective of the 21st-Century Learning Teachers Campaign is to celebrate and share best practices of how teachers bring PAK21 into their classrooms. Teachers who are teaching in Malaysian national schools will be able to upload their creative strategies of bringing PAK21 into their classrooms through a 300-word write-up or a three-minute video on the campaign’s official website.

At the end of the campaign, 10 teachers with the most effective and creative strategies will be selected to receive professional mentorship, win attractive prizes and receive a private audience with the Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

At the launch in December 2018, PADU student learning sector director Datin Rosliza Rosli underlined the importance of teachers in schools in cultivating the much-needed 21stcentury skills among students.

Citing World Bank statistics, she said Malaysian children received 12 years of education, but three of those years did not contribute to meaningful education. Another set of World Bank statistics outlined how Malaysian children only achieve 62% of their full potential. With this in mind, she underscored the case for more effective teaching methods through PAK21.

In essence, the campaign is one of the many efforts powered by PADU to deliver differently and to “unbox” how the education and transformation agenda is executed.

A Different Way

“One of the main differences is our people-centric planning,” said PADU CEO Khadijah Abdullah.

An example of this new way of conceptualising initiatives to transform the education system is found in the way PADU developed the strategy to increase literacy and numeracy outcomes nationally.

Instead of relying on the traditional top-down strategies, PADU leveraged on a design thinking process to empathise and understand, not just the challenges faced by stakeholder groups, but also their emotions and hopes throughout their journeys. This is aimed towards prototype and pilot solutions that are truly meaningful and easy to use by the stakeholders, as opposed to having nice plans on paper.

PADU went down to the ground, conducting deep ethnographic and stakeholder studies and interviews to determine the challenges of the current processes of 17 outlier schools across the country that were meant to be representative of the entire population.

Armed with that insight, they led a series of workshops to personify the existing challenges faced by students, teachers and parents, and mapped them out in personas and stakeholder journeys. With that, they developed prototyped solutions aimed to be deployed rapidly to see if they could work.

The result of these efforts are nine interventions — encompassing themes of improving teaching and learning; empowering school leadership; intensifying parent engagement; and increasing early intervention — which obtained quick buy-in from implementers from the Ministry of Education.

With the Bett Asia award under its belt, PADU surely will want to delivery other equally innovative and meaningful initiatives.




Hari ini genap setahun tempoh pentadbiran Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (KPM) ingin merakamkan penghargaan kepada semua penjawat awam di Kementerian ini yang melihatkan komitmen dan usaha bersungguh-sungguh dalam menjayakan reformasi pendidikan yang digerakkan sehingga kini.

KPM turut merakamkan ribuan terima kasih kepada ibu bapa, komuniti dan pihak swasta yang sentiasa memberikan sokongan padu terhadap setiap usaha dan inisiatif yang dilaksanakan oleh Kementerian.

Sebagai sebuah gabungan yang kali pertama menjadi kerajaan, sudah tentu terdapat pelbagai halangan dan kesukaran yang ditempuhi PH. Namun dengan sokongan kuat penjawat awam, pentadbiran yang ada kian melihatkan kekuatan untuk terus memakmurkan Malaysia.

KPM amat bertuah kerana memiliki ramai penjawat awam daripada pelbagai skim perkhidmatan termasuk guru, pensyarah, pegawai tadbir dan diplomatik, pegawai kewangan serta anggota kumpulan pelaksana yang berbakat, berilmu dan mempunyai budaya kerja cemerlang dan mereka merupakan kelompok yang sentiasa dipandang tinggi.

Kementerian ini menganggap penjawat awam sebagai tunjang utama reformasi pendidikan negara dan Malaysia akan terus maju dengan perkhidmatan awam berkualiti tinggi.

Terima kasih kepada semua warga KPM dan tidak dilupakan, adiwira yang paling hebat kerana memungkinkan semua perubahan ini berlaku, iaitu rakyat Malaysia yang turun mengundi pada 9 Mei 2018, setahun yang lalu.

Dapatkan buku ringkas tentang pencapaian Setahun KPM di bawah pentadbiran PH di sini:


Iklan kempen Malaysia Membaca dilancar di seluruh pawagam

KUALA LUMPUR 3 Mei - Kementerian Pendidikan melancarkan iklan kempen 'Malaysia Membaca' di pawagam seluruh negara yang bertujuan meningkatkan minat membaca dalam kalangan rakyat.

Menteri Pendidikan, Dr. Maszlee Malik berkata, pihak kementerian berusaha keras demi memastikan semua murid memperoleh pengetahuan dan berpeluang untuk berjaya menerusi aktiviti pembacaan.

“Selaras dengan hasrat itu, kementerian telah melancarkan kempen Dekad Membaca Kebangsaan 2030 yang menyasarkan lebih banyak karya penulisan agung diterjemah ke dalam bahasa Melayu.

“Selain menjadikan budaya membaca menerusi rangkaian saluran popular serta menyasarkan penerbitan nasional kepada 31,700 judul menjelang 2030 berbanding 19,713 judul pada 2017,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian semasa menyampaikan ucapan pelancaran iklan tersebut di pawagam TGV, Pusat Beli Belah Jaya, Petaling Jaya dekat sini hari ini.

Kempen agenda membaca itu turut dijayakan bersama Unit Pelaksanaan dan Prestasi Pendidikan (Padu).

Dalam majlis sama, Maszlee berkata, pihak kementerian menjalinkan kerjasama korporat bersama penaja MPH Bookstores bagi menderma bahan bacaan kepada dua rumah anak yatim.

Bahan bacaan bernilai RM1,000 disumbangkan kepada Yayasan Anak-Anak Yatim Pinggir Taman Tun Dr. Ismail dan Pusat Komuniti Triniti

Guru muda teraju reformasi pendidikan

Oleh, Dr Muhammad Abd Hadi Bunyamin ialah pensyarah di Sekolah Pendidikan Fakulti Sains Sosial dan Kemanusiaan Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Kementerian Pendidikan (KPM) melalui Unit Pelaksanaan dan Prestasi Pendidikan (PADU) telah menamakan senarai guru yang mengamalkan pengajaran dan pemudahcaraan (PdPc) abad ke-21 atau PAK 21 di laman Facebook PADU.

PADU turut menyertakan sebahagian nombor kad pengenalan guru-guru tersebut. Penulis berfikiran bahawa PADU mahu orang awam menyedari status guru-guru tersebut sama ada guru muda atau guru senior. Ini merupakan tindakan yang munasabah dan informatif.

Daripada sebahagian maklumat kad pengenalan guru yang tertera, jelas sekali kelompok guru 10 teratas (Top 10) untuk PAK 21 ialah guru-guru muda. Ini kerana mereka lahir pada atau selepas tahun 1979 dan membawa maksud mereka sekarang berumur 40 tahun dan ke bawah.

Apakah sebab tiada guru senior yang berumur melebihi 40 tahun dalam kelompok 10 teratas ini? Penulis tiada jawapan yang konkrit, namun penulis mempunyai hemat bahawa kelompok guru berusia 40 tahun dan ke bawah merupakan golongan yang terdedah dengan banyaknya kepada unsur terkini dalam pendidikan khususnya pengajaran kreatif dan inovatif.

Guru-guru muda ini juga dipercayai merupakan kelompok yang lebih mudah menerima dan membuat perubahan kepada amalan pengajaran mereka berbanding guru senior. Kebiasaannya, guru-guru senior mempunyai amalan pengajaran yang stabil dan tidak banyak berubah dalam tempoh panjang. Guru muda juga dipercayai mempunyai semangat yang tinggi untuk membawa pembaharuan kepada pendidikan negara.

Semangat ini dijelmakan dalam amalan PAK 21 yang menekankan PdPc kreatif, inovatif, kolaboratif, komunikatif dan pemikiran kritikal. Apakah implikasi kepada penobatan Adiwira PAK 21 ini? Tidak keterlaluan untuk penulis menyatakan bahawa guru-guru muda inilah yang paling boleh diharapkan untuk menjelmakan pembaharuan kepada sistem pendidikan Malaysia. Dengan kudrat masih cergas, semangat masih kental dan otak yang masih cerdas, pada bahu guru mudalah harapan reformasi pendidikan untuk diterjemah kepada tindakan.

Ini tidak bermakna guru-guru senior terpinggir. Mereka sudah lama berada dalam sistem pendidikan dan harus dihormati. Pada hemat penulis, pada era sebegini, guru-guru senior boleh berfungsi sebagai pemberi motivasi dan penguat dorongan kepada guru-guru muda untuk terus istiqamah dalam melaksanakan pembaharuan pendidikan.

Penulis akui bahawa guru-guru muda khususnya dan anak-anak muda amnya boleh patah semangat sekiranya usaha-usaha mereka untuk melaksana perubahan tidak mendapat sambutan dan sokongan orang sekeliling.

Menyedari hal ini, adalah penting supaya guru-guru senior dapat berperanan membentuk persekitaran yang kondusif untuk guru-guru muda beraksi penuh dedikasi menjayakan reformasi pendidikan.

Justeru, diharapkan agar KPM dapat mengambil langkah tersusun melatih lebih ramai guru muda Malaysia untuk mengamalkan PAK 21 ini. Amalan PAK 21 ternyata berbeza dengan amalan pengajaran era terdahulu yang menekankan peperiksaan dan ujian.

PAK 21 menjurus kepada pembentukan pelajar yang menyeluruh daripada segenap aspek, tidak hanya intelek, tetapi juga rohani, emosi dan jasmani. Tidakkah ini sebenarnya selari dengan Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan?

Oleh yang demikian, penting sekali untuk semua pihak memberi sokongan, dokongan dan dorongan kepada guru-guru muda Malaysia untuk muncul sebagai Peneraju Reformasi Pendidikan. Hakikatnya, kita harus juga kembali kepada Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan dan jayakan falsafah ini dalam medan perjuangan pendidikan melalui platform PAK 21.


English teacher who turns classroom into a beach wins PAK21 teacher campaign

PUTRAJAYA: With pupils having little to no access to the outside world, English teacher Muhammad Nazmi Rosli from Sarawak decided to bring the world into the classroom. He transformed his classroom into a beach, hospital and pet shop to let the pupils capture the experience being in those places and situations.

Muhammad Nazmi was announced the winner of 21st Century Learning Teachers Campaign (PAK21) – a campaign organised by the Ministry of Education through the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU).

His school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Long Sukang in Lawas is tucked in green mountains about 660 kilometers away from Kuching.

“The pupils have never seen a beach so I decided to bring the beach to them. Once they are exposed to the outside world, they are allowed to dream bigger dreams and believe that they could do more.

The resourceful teacher added that he made use of old boxes and plastic bags lying around the school grounds in creating the props.

PAK21 is an initiative to get teachers to incorporate simple yet different ways of teaching that will help to foster communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and values and ethics amongst their students.

“Some assumed that PAK21 is all about technology but, I wanted to prove that providing the best education is possible even without technology and access to the internet,” he added.

Present at the closing ceremony were Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin and Education Ministry secretary general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas.

In his speech, Maszlee said the campaign was introduced to find an extraordinary teacher applying PAK21 into their classrooms. He added that teachers who went the extra mile deserve recognition and should be an inspiration to others.

“They are the backbone of change and deserve our appreciation, admiration and gratitude.”

The minister called for all teachers to continue fighting the good fight until every student feels the impact of PAK21.

He said there is a need to shift to 21st century learning methods as they teach transferable skills that are irreplaceable by the threat of automation.

Citing the Khazanah Research Institute's recent 'School-to-Work' study, he said that employers are looking out for a mastery of soft skills like communication and collaboration to scale up the value chain, which are taught through PAK21.

A Science teacher of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jerlun, Kedah, Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib emerged as first runner-up while English teacher at SMK Pasir Gudang, Johor, Emira Nabila Ramli won the third place.

Throughout the campaign from December last year to January this year, PAK 21 drew over a thousand submissions from every state across the country.



Photo: NSTP

PADU wins Bett Asia ‘Game Changer’ Award

On the 13th of March 2019, PADU was announced as the winner of the prestigious Bett Asia* ‘Game Changer’ Award. Bett Asia’s awards are designed to recognize, celebrate, and reward change efforts in education, in line with their theme ‘Building a Change Culture to Deliver 21st Century Learning’.

PADU’s entry for the Bett Asia Awards revolved around innovatively and creatively inculcating a culture of 21st Century Learning. PADU’s game-changing approach involved initiating a peer-led paradigm shift through the 21st Century Learning Teachers Campaign, which encouraged teachers to share their best practices on bringing 21st century learning into their classrooms. This campaign ran from 20th December 2018 to 31st January 2019, and received over 1,000 submissions from teachers across the whole of Malaysia. The submissions were from teachers who taught a diverse range of subjects, encompassing the languages, arts, sciences, social sciences, and Islam/moral.

The sharing of these teachers’ stories and strategies is aimed to establish a sustainable and far-reaching change to adopt 21st century learning in Malaysian classrooms. In the Malaysian context, 21st century learning is a student-centered approach that focuses on the five elements of Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Values & Ethics (collectively known as 4C1V). To find out more, the Campaign’s Facebook page can be found at  

Bett Asia’s recognition of PADU as the winner for the ‘Game Changer’ award demonstrates PADU’s and the Ministry of Education’s innovation and capability for change, inspiring confidence for the future of education in Malaysia.

*Bett Asia is part of the Bett Global series of education technology conferences that brings together education leaders, practitioners, and industry experts from across the globe to share their experiences and knowledge. This year, the Bett Asia Summit was presided by our own Minister of Education, YB Dr. Maszlee bin Malik. For more information, please visit:

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