Ministry of Education fails transparency test

Failure to appear at the special hearing of the Select Committee of Parliament

It was bad enough to learn that the recent SPM exam questions had been recycled.

The situation escalated when the Ministry of Education refused to appear before the special commission on education to provide an explanation of the allegation in question.

The refusal also suggests a lack of respect for Parliament and a lack of respect for the Malaysian people, who are also looking for answers.

Certainly Sections 16 and 17 of the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 authorize the House and any related committee to order the attendance of witnesses and to require the submission of documents.

Neither Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin nor ministry officials showed up, said panel chairman Maszlee Malik, who was education minister in the Pakatan Harapan cabinet.

The controversy arose after complaints were made that questions from the SPM 2021 Malay language exam (comprehension) were reused for the second session of the exam this year.

The second special session of SPM was for students who were unable to attend the previous exam due to Covid and flooding, as well as those who received special exemptions from the Director of Examinations.

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It is troubling that such a matter of public interest and importance was not addressed directly by the Department of Education before the jury, as it may have serious implications for the professionalism and integrity of the Department. , as well as for those of the Malaysian Examinations Council.

These institutions are certainly aware of the importance of ensuring that exam questions are well designed and vetted and that high standards are maintained.

Appearing before the committee would help reassure the public, especially concerned parents and students, that the ministry takes transparency and accountability seriously.

Refusal to attend the meeting may even give credence to a suspicion that the ministry has something to hide.

The panel meeting is also intended to address public concern that students who took the exam in the first session might have been harmed if the second session exam questions were indeed an exact copy of those of the first session. In other words, students in the second session could have the advantage of having seen the questions asked for the first session, which is clearly unfair.

While it is true that the exam questions have been recycled, the ministry should obviously address the matter urgently so that any dereliction of duty is dealt with accordingly.

If there was indeed a recycling of questions, it would set a bad example for students who expect a high level of professionalism from those responsible for asking exam questions.

Moreover, it can give the sad impression that those who supposedly recycled the questions lacked ingenuity. Could they not use, for example, a question bank for an alternative set of questions?

Relying only on the first session questions is almost as bad as scaring away the exam questions.

I repeat, it is crucial that the Department of Education clear the air.

Since education is essential for nation building, it is essential that our young generation receive the kind of education they truly deserve so that they can play a useful role in the development of our country.

It is also hoped that a good education system will help keep young people away from unhealthy activities in their free time.

What needs to be replicated is quality education. – Malaysian Insight

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