GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia is on the right track in providing quality education but more needs to be done for the country to make that quantum leap into an age of disruption brought on by technology.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the World Economic Forum had recently placed Malaysia in 19th spot out of 141 countries in its Quality Education Index.
“We are on the right track to be recognised as a country that is competitive and progressive in education compared with other countries,“ he said.
“Nonetheless, our education system needs a paradigm shift to ensure that it remains relevant in this globalised world,“ he added when opening the 48th annual National Teachers Day celebrations at the Setia Spice Arena here.
Mahathir assured teachers that the government will continue to place priority on education. “This year, RM60.2 billion or 19.1% of our expenditure is for education,“ he said.
He said this is in line with the country’s desire to attain the Unesco target of ensuring access to quality education for all young people by 2030.
Mahathir reminded teachers that they are the beacon of hope. “If you fail to groom quality students the country’s future will be gloomy,“ he said.
He wants teachers to instil the values of hard work, discipline and trustworthiness in each student.
Mahathir also emphasised the importance of English as the language of skills and communication, adding that he also wants students to be inspired to learn Mathematics and Science and to dabble in technology.
He also disclosed that the Education Ministry will expand its highly immersive and dual-language programmes in all schools in the country so the mastery of English can be optimized.
He underscored the importance of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in ensuring that the young can be equipped with the right industry skills.
Later, Mahathir, accompanied Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, presented awards to Nawi Ismail who won the National Teacher Icon Award and Datuk Asariah Mior Shaharuddin the National Education Leadership Award.
They received RM50,000 in a Bank Simpanan Nasional savings account and a RM10,000 locket each.