Alarmed by the poor ranking for Malaysia in an international students' test, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar urged a new bi-partisan approach to reform the country's education system.

A bi-partisan parliamentary select committee should be tasked to look into improving Malaysia's education system, Nurul Izzah said in a statement today.

NONEAt the same time, the Lembah Pantai MP added, a National Education Council comprising politicians, academicians and other stakeholders should also be formed to study this issue.

The Pisa 2012 results, she said, demolished Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's argument last March that Malaysia's education standards were on par with that of the advanced nations. 

"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," Nurul Izzah added.

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

Malaysia second worst in Southeast Asia

In the Pisa 2012 survey, in which gives students from 65 countries sit for the same tests in mathematics, science and reading, Malaysians were ranked the second worst in Southeast Asia, just beating Indonesia.

Pisa refers to the Programme for International Students Assessment. 

In tests conducted by the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) every three years since 2000, samples of students from 65 countries are tested on their key knowledge of mathematics, science and reading ability.

The Pisa 2012 test showed secondary school students in Malaysia to have learnt only as much as a primary school pupil in Singapore and in South Korea. Malaysian students also scored below Vietnam in all the tests, including the one on literacy.

In her statement, Nurul Izzah also dared the BN to debate the eroding standards of education in Malaysia at the ongoing Umno general assembly, since many Malays were the ones most affected by the falling standards.

"As a party that champions the dignity of Malays, it is a shame if Umno cannot even tackle this issue."

NONEMeanwhile, PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli (right) also wanted similar reforms to the national education system.

"For sure, the question arises as to how Vietnam, with limited resources, lesser infrastructure and an economy that is smaller than Malaysia's, can have an education system that surpasses ours," Rafizi said.

He urged the government to face up to the truth and implement corrective steps.

The administrative duties of teachers must be cut down and standards of teaching raised so that students understand their lessons and not just memorise facts to pass examinations, Rafizi added.