Closing the early childhood education gap is essential for Malaysia to improve children’s school readiness

KUALA LUMPUR (April 25): The World Bank said on Thursday that Malaysia’s education system still has room for improvement, especially in addressing the learning challenges faced by children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

According to the 29th Malaysia Economic Monitor report in April 2024, entitled “Bending the bamboo shoots: Strengthening basic skills”, students, especially those enrolled in early childhood education, have improved their school readiness skills. Often lacking.

This deficiency causes difficulties in reading, writing, and mathematics throughout schooling.

The report states, “Although most children entering primary school attend early childhood centers and perform well on school readiness indicators, approximately 24% still lack school readiness skills,” the report said. Most of the children are from low-income households, it added.

The World Bank pointed to government initiatives through the Ministry of Education, such as reading support programs and primary school literacy and numeracy programs.

Nevertheless, the World Bank said that despite significant efforts to address these challenges, “educational inequalities” still exist.

Malaysia’s goal of being in the top third of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) could be difficult if the issue of “educational inequality” is not properly and successfully addressed, the World Bank said.

PISA refers to a global survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that measures the reading, math, and science literacy of 15-year-old students. Malaysia’s PISA score in 2023 was 404, compared to 431 in 2018 and 440 in 2015.

According to the World Bank, Malaysia managed to move up to third place in the 2018 PISA, but fell to the bottom three in the 2022 PISA.

In addressing this challenge, the World Bank aims to help Malaysia achieve universal pre-primary education by providing at least one year of free and compulsory education to Malaysian children. He proposed giving all children a head start by providing quality early childhood education. admission.

The World Bank also urges governments to implement effective training programs for teachers, including mentoring, structured lesson plans, targeted instruction, education, and technology to improve the quality of teachers’ teaching performance. recommended.

This is often because many teachers do not have the training to directly impact student learning development. Additionally, there are also concerns about teacher discipline, as nearly 40% of Malaysian children report that their teachers are sometimes or frequently absent from school.

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