Until we end the politicization of education, all other reforms are likely to fail or be implemented with safeguards for the corrupt.
Why is the highest office of our education system always destined for a politician? By definition, an MP is a politician and Senators predominantly hold political party positions to some degree.
Politician-Education Ministers are often not products of our system, only able to speak the language of reform without the conviction to sacrifice for reform, and focus on academia, not schools. Academia experts are absolutely not appropriate for today’s crises in education that center on systemic injustice, corruption, racism, abuse of power, institutional rot, and negligence. Academia experts do not understand our problems, thus when they appeal to the public, they focus on significantly weak and/or contradictory solutions that do not address structural failures (e.g., MOE investigates the MOE = PDRM investigates PDRM). Once confronted, they are unable to fight for their weak reforms.
- …want to pad their resumes, concentrate their power, and use education to claim righteousness.
- …are incentivized to bury scandals, delay major reforms, and avoid accountability.
- …have nearly zero experience teaching in government schools and cannot triage our major problems listed above.
- …are beholden to their political parties’ pet issues, demands, and narrow scope.
- …often live in high-income brackets, came from strong schools, and are shielded from systemic injustices.
During an election or cabinet reshuffle, only the highest two officers at the MOE are changed. That's it. Now, they must manage 400,000 public servants where many hold a shameful history of abusing Sabahans, orang asli, Sarawakians, and disenfranchised communities; a Ministry at very high risk for corruption at all levels; extremely few whistleblowers.
We must appoint, first by choice and then by law, Ministers of Education that are
- Both a product of Malaysia’s education system and with at least five years of teaching experience at an MOE school. Borrowing from their children’s experience is simply not enough. Children, unfortunately, do not know 10% of the problems actually hidden inside a bilik guru. Often, well-connected families are placed in Band 1 or Band 2 schools that are exceptionally well-managed, but an ultra-minority. Example career positions that may satisfy the five-year minimum requirement include a former teacher, a former district / state / or national MOE officer, a long-term Teach for Malaysia alumnus. The easiest method is appointment as a Senator.
- Enters the position with a deep understanding of the corruption, misconduct, lack of oversight, institutional rot, and failures of justice prevalent throughout Malaysia’s education system, from cities to schools. No more Education Ministers “learning on the job”, as our crises are far too acute. Their priorities must first center on removing investigative authority away from the Ministry of Education (KPM) and removing disciplinary authority away from the Education Services Commission (SPP). Both halves have failed our students: the KPM rarely investigates and the SPP almost never disciplines post-investigation. Both departments are the problem; fixing one alone is insufficient. Thus, we also suggest independent investigations *and* independent disciplinary proceedings, i.e., the Public Ombudsman.
- Focused solely on education for all children within Malaysia’s borders, thus significantly free from racial, religious, and / or ethnic discrimination. Somewhat positive examples include Indonesia, though a work in progress with a dual-track system under the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religion.
- Hold no political party at the time of appointment (an Independent Senator) and most preferably has not held any party position in the last five years. Malaysia is full of competent, passionate, and serious educators that have been fighting for justice.
- Will submit and agree to a new Federal law that bans the appointment of future Politician-Education Ministers in all future administrations.