Saturday, December 5, 2015

Economist: More money will not buy M'sia better education

Geraldine Tong     Published

Spending more money is not likely to improve basic education in Malaysia, said the World Bank's chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific region Sudhir Shetty.

"It's not about spending more money. Malaysia actually spends quite a lot of money on basic education.

"If you look at it relative to per capita, Malaysia is actually on the high side," he said in a presentation on economic challenges and opportunities for Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur today.

Shetty said the focus, instead, should be on autonomy of schools, increasing accountability of schools to parents and students as well as improving the quality of teachers.

This is because in international tests, students in Malaysia consistently rank lower than their counterparts not only in Japan or South Korea, but also in Thailand and Vietnam, he said.

It will be difficult for Malaysia to achieve an innovation- or knowledge-based economy if the quality of basic education is still so poor, he said.

"This is not about access (to education). This is not about whether children go to school or not.

"It's about whether kids learn anything in school and whether by the time they make it to university, they have the basic maths, reading and science skills that are necessary to succeed in a knowledge-based economy," he said.

He pointed out that improving the quality of basic education would help accelerate human capital development in Malaysia.

This would, in turn, be one of the structural reforms needed to enhance the Malaysian economy's development prospects, he said.

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