Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bridging the Urban Rural Knowledge Gap In Malaysia

Salam Hormat dan rahayu,

It has been more than 50 years since independence, yet there are several weaknesses in the education system and it needs immediate attention by the authority. The school is an important institution, (besides home) with students spending more time than ever in school. As such, it is important that the government recognizes the weaknesses and the problems in the education system and take appropriate steps in rectifying them and promoting initiatives that will benefit urban-rural schools rather than cause further detriment.

One main problem is our education system is too rigid. It is based on the assumption that all children let it be urban or rural, have the same learning abilities, interest and strength. Children are forced to progress and learn at the same rate despite their different abilities. There is lacking in allocation for different subjects for different students from different background, culture or needs. For example, those who are not inclined to academic subjects that involve reading, writing and arithmetic will have difficulties to cope-up.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) reported there are 7,513 primary schools and 5,077 are in the rural areas. There are 2,045 secondary schools and 792 are in the rural areas. The Minister of Education on 5th February 2007 said ”...apart from their location, 33% or 2,260 primary schools were under enrolled with less 150 children each. Most of the under-enrolled schools are in the rural areas and 90% of them are in poor state with insufficient allocation and lacking in facilities and trained teachers.”- Bernama.

The Ministry of Education Malaysia has in 2006 launched an Education Development Master Plan (EDMP) or Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan (PIPP) to resolve unresolved tasks. This plan has 5 basic strategies. One of it is bridging the gap between the rural and urban schools.

The five main gaps that have been identified are:
1. The gap between urban and rural schools- referring to the imbalance delivery of
infrastructure facilities and allocation of teachers in rural schools especially Under Enrolled Schools, Orang Asli Schools and the Remote Schools.
2. The digital gap – referring to the lack of accessibility to ICT infrastructure due to locality and this has resulted in digital divide among teachers and students.
3. Students’ performance gap - referring to the low achievements of student in mastering the 3Rs.
4. The gap between normal students and special students referring to the need of special facilities to support the teaching and learning process of these students.
5. The socio-economic gap referring to the state of health, disciplines, students’ welfare and poverty among students.

Main Focal Areas to Bridge the Gap
Infrastructure development includes building new schools in rural areas. Improve participation of students and reduce school dropout. Increase number of trained teachers in rural areas. Improve the delivery system and distribution of aids to the poor, special needs and minority group.
The main challenges are as follows:
Non delivery or under delivery by the relevant agencies:

· Infrastructure/ICT
· Proper buildings (schools/teachers quarters)
· Accessibility to schools (road condition)
· 24 hours electricity
· Clean water
· Teachers shortage
· Teachers’ proficiency in English especially teaching Science and Mathematics.
· Mismatch in option
·Teachers of critical subjects (English, Science and Mathematics) and
(Bahasa Melayu in vernacular schools)
· The over centralized curriculum
· Transportations
· Delivery of educational materials
· Information and financial divide
· Setting–up of pre-school classes
· Examination oriented
· Administrators and teachers attitude

Challenges in Orang Asli and Penan schools – Right to Education ( Quality education) Article 26 UDHR
· low academic performance
· low mastery of the 3Rs
· rigid curriculum – centralized examination
· low teacher and student motivation
· low socio-economics status among Penan
· high absentee rate
· many without birth certificates
· attitude of parents and community towards education
· attitude of officers in relevant agencies
· attitude of teachers and administrators
· integrity, accountability and responsibility
· education opportunities for children
· lack of suitable facilities
· non or under delivery of school/students aids
· accessibility to schools – roads, transportation (facilities and services)
· literacy divide – never been to school

The ability to use ICT and the Internet becomes a new form of literacy and a new approach of teaching and learning. In this era of information, literacy is not only the ability to read and write in the vernacular language or the second language but also include computer literacy. The Government and MOE face various challenges in implementing ICT initiatives throughout the country. The challenges are more in the rural and remote schools.

Remote schools and electricity supply and its effect in implementing ICT infrastructures and teaching and learning processes:

In 2005, there were 5,077 primary schools and 792 secondary schools in the rural areas. Many of these schools are of more than 30 years old. Therefore it needs high maintenance especially to sustain ICT. Infrastructure and education facilities such as electricity supply, old buildings, security, obsolete computers, software that are not compatible with the computer, limited broad band access are main challenges in this schools. In 2005, there are 767 primary schools and 28 secondary schools in Perak, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak which do not have 24 hours electricity supply.
These school are depending on low capacity generators for their electricity supply which was found to be insufficient, unstable and incapable of supporting ICT for instance computers and television. It was also difficult and expensive to supply diesel to these remote schools due to distance and accessibility factors. Yet, the schools are encouraged to incorporate computer lessons, the use of internet and television as part of the school curriculum.


· Adhere to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) “Everyone has the right to education” (Quality Education).
· Adhere to Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - “The child has right to education, and the State’s duty is to ensure that primary education is free and compulsory”.
·Adhere to compulsory education in the Education Act 550.
·The Government should implement the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous People, which the Malaysian government fully supported it (voted at the UN General Assembly on 13 September 2007.)
. Identify and placed committed, knowledgeable, experience teachers and administration.

. Ensure good and working transportation facilities and services.
· Ensure 24 hours electricity and clean water supply
· Ensure the delivery of appropriate facilities/equipments and aids to schools.
· Re-evaluate the over-structured curriculum.
· Re-evaluate teacher training curriculum.
· Re-evaluate centralized examination.
. Provide better education opportunities.
. Ensure parents and community’s involvement.
. Improve the literacy, digital literacy and digital divide.
. Improve information and financial divide.
. All relevant agencies should take serious and concerted effort to resolve all issues
in bridging the urban-rural knowledge gap.

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