Malaysian education: What do the poor really want?

April 15th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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This paper is an overview of the results of IDEAS’ nationwide education survey of households in the bottom 40 percent.
The average household income of the respondents was RM 919 per month. With over 1,200 households surveyed in six states across Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, the results provide a glimpse into the barriers faced by low-income parents in Malaysia when they try to provide an education for their children. This paper elaborates on the five main findings which stood out from the data collected:

 

  1. Information Gap: There is an information gap between government education plans and the information received by the poor.
  2. Accessibility to Education Aid: Government education aid is not reaching the needy.
  3. Lack of interest in school continues to drive students todrop out at an early age.
  4. Education Expenses: Education related expenses continue to be a burden for parents from low-income households.
  5. School Accessibility: Accessibility to schools continues to limit choice for parents.
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The Malaysian Trust School Model: It’s good but is it sustainable?

February 13th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications One Response
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In 2010 Yayasan AMIR and the Ministry of Education (MOE) embarked on the Trust School Programme, which was billed as a pioneering public-private partnership in education for Malaysia. This involved both organisations working together to improve the quality of learning and teaching in selected government schools. The early success of the programme resulted in a declaration by MOE, in the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025, that 500 Trust Schools would be created by 2025.

In this policy paper we argue that whilst the Trust Schools initiative has shown significant success, it represents a very weak form of public-private partnership, especially when compared to the models currently being deployed in many other education systems. In fact, in its early iteration it has been more of a public-public partnership – with much of the funding for the programme coming from Government Linked Companies (GLCs). We also argue that the current model lacks scalability as it relies on business community donations to fund Yayasan AMIR’s intervention programme. This is effectively a form of voluntary taxation and we suspect that it will prove difficult to find sufficient sponsors to finance the transformation of 500 schools.

Instead we suggest that MOE should consider strong forms of public-private partnership that involve expert education management organisations being funded on a cost-neutral basis to turnaround Malaysia’s lowest performing schools. These approaches are being used to great effect in England, US, Canada and are also currently being piloted in New Zealand.

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IDEAS 4-year review 2010-2013

February 9th, 2014 by admin Categories: Opinion, Publications No Responses
IDEAS 4-year review 2010-2013

A review of IDEAS progress between 2010-2013.

IDEAS 4 Year Review

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Transparency in European public procurement: benefits and lessons for Malaysia

January 15th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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Malaysia has rather robust procurement regulations that compel agencies to implement the principles of transparency, value for money, and fair dealings in procurement activities. However, there are areas in which Malaysia can improve especially to encourage competition and innovation. The paper outlines measures that can be adopted by the Malaysiangovernment to improve the competitiveness and transparency of its procurement system. These measures are inspired by the European Procurement system that is explored in the first part of the paper along with the benefits associated with greater transparency in public procurement.

Transparency is one of the core principles in EU procurement. It is required in all stages of procurement, but particularly in three phases of tendering, evaluation and review in order to ensure non discrimination and equal treatment. The paper describes how the principles of transparency is applied in these stages.

The four measures advocated by the paper are as follows: (1) contracting agencies should add clearer and more detailed evaluation criteria in tender notices or tender documents, (2) contracting agencies should provide information about the reasons for choosing certain contractors and rejecting others to both winning and losing contractors as well as to the public, (3) a review phase should be incorporated into the system to allow contractors to fi le for complaints if they are not happy with the decisions made by the agencies and (4) the government should create parameters to ensure Bumiputera preferences in government procurement are less distortive to competition and are awarded in a transparent manner.

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Market solutions to education crisis

December 10th, 2013 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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The performance of Malaysian students in the PISA 2012 rankings once again left the nation wondering when copious amounts of public expenditure on education would translate to markedly improved results. Malaysian students showed some improvement in Mathematics moving up 17 points to 421, a two point decrease in Science at 420, and a 16 point decrease in Reading at 398. These results mean that not only do average Malaysian students perform well below the average OECD student, but they also fare worse than students in countries such as Thailand and Chile. This paper, first published by the Cato Institute,  looks at the failures of the government education system in the United States and argues that markets can provide better quality education through vouchers & choice, profit-making schools, entrepreneurial educationists and contracting out of certain services. The paper goes on to look at how and why lessons from this paper are relevant to the highly centralised Malaysian education system, and why education reform should focus on the child if the country aspires to move up in global education rankings.

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The hardware and the software to overcome a middle-income trap

November 5th, 2013 by admin Categories: Governance, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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No economy has ever been able to sustain membership in the high-income, developed-country league without having first adopted the institutions of secure private property rights and their free, competitive use under the rule of law that treats all citizens equally. These institutions (or rules) can be called the ‘software of free-market capitalism’. These basic rules of conduct make it easier for people to incur the transaction costs of innovation and to interact productively with each other in an increasingly complex, dynamic economy. Interventionism, income redistribution and crony politics weaken or destroy these essential institutions. They are therefore likely to lock the economy into a middle-income trap’, apart from creating political tensions and growing social instability. To develop the ‘software’ of economic development, social scientists and policy analysts must go beyond technical analysis and engage in moral discussions. This is a challenge that only the young in the countries concerned can tackle, if they want to create a better, freer and more prosperous future for themselves.

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Key failings in the Malaysian public procurement system and how they can be addressed by greater transparency

October 1st, 2013 by admin Categories: Governance, Policy Ideas, Publications 2 Responses
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The Malaysian government has established an official system of procurement which conforms to a certain extent to international standards. However, Auditor General Reports repeatedly highlight cases of procured goods, services and works that are being paid for well above market prices, under-utilised, and substandard. The paper argues that these problems may be caused by inadequate procurement planning and poor drafting of specifications, insufficient use of open competitive tendering and lack of monitoring and evaluation. The paper further argues that by putting more comprehensive transparency measures and addressing problems that have been hampering transparency initiatives such as political interference and continued use of direct negotiation, Malaysia will be able to address those problems and reap full benefit of transparent procurement system.

Among transparency measures specifically recommended by this paper are disclosure of procurement planning and non-performing contractors and suppliers, and allowing outside observers such as representatives from the Auditor General’s Office or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and relevant business organisations to attend procurement board meetings.

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Economic Freedom of the World Index 2013

September 18th, 2013 by admin Categories: Other Publications, Publications No Responses
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Economic Freedom of the World

The index published in Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property. Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom
in five broad areas:

1 Size of Government;
2 Legal System and Property Rights;
3 Sound Money;
4 Freedom to Trade Internationally;
5 Regulation.

Since thefirst publication in 1996, numerous studies have used the data published in Economic Freedom of the World to examine the impact of economic freedom on investment, economic growth, income levels, and poverty rates. Virtually without exception, these studies have found that countries with institutions and policies more consistent with economic freedom have higher investment rates, more rapid economic growth, higher income levels, and a more rapid reduction in poverty rates.

The EFW index now covers 152 countries and territories. Data are available for approximately 100 nations and territories back to 1980, and many back to 1970. This data set makes it possible for scholars to analyze the impact of both cross-country differences in economic freedom and changes in that freedom across a three decade time frame.

Here is an alternative link

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2013 International Property Rights Index

September 16th, 2013 by admin Categories: Other Publications, Publications No Responses
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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – Malaysia ranked 33rd out of 131 countries globally in the 2013 International Property Rights Index (IPRI), released today by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in partnership with the Property Rights Alliance in Washington DC.

The IPRI measures the intellectual and physical property rights and their protection for economic well-being. The IPRI uses three components of property rights to create a composite score: Legal & Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Malaysia’s IPRI score remains unchanged from 2012 at 6.5 points. It is disappointing that our index scores remain stagnant, whereas neighbouring countries Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Brunei all recorded increases in index scores of up to 0.2. Malaysia ranks 7th in the Asian region, below China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The IPRI emphasizes the great economic differences between countries with strong property rights and those without. Malaysia in the second quintile has an average GDP per capita of US$26,680, whereas nations in the top quintile like Finland and Australia enjoy an average national GDP per capita of US$38,288.

Individual scores in key components of intellectual property rights (from 1 to 10 where a higher value indicates a higher level of protection of property rights):

 Legal and Political Environment: fell to 5.7 from 5.8 in the last year’s report
 Physical Property Rights: rose to 7.7 from 7.5
 Intellectual Property Rights: fell to 6.1 from 6.2

Although there was no change in the overall score from 2012 to 2013, this year we achieved a lower score in two categories. The decline in the Legal and Political Environment component is because both ‘Control of Corruption’ and ‘Judicial Independence’ had very small increases in scores. Intellectual Property Rights also declined due to a drop in ‘Protection of Intellectual Property Rights’.

In the ongoing TPPA negotiations, Malaysia’s position is to proposal to provide extended protection for patent owners. This may have an impact on the score IPR protection.

“Whilst we are pleased to note the increase in protection of physical property rights, this is only because of the increase in the numbers of registered properties. What is of greater concern is the slight decline in the control of corruption, judicial independence and protection of intellectual property rights.

These three elements are crucial in supporting private property, a freer economy, and a democratic society. The right to property ensures the voluntary transfer of assets, resulting in exchange and economic growth, and this would make Malaysia a more attractive place to invest in, live and work”, said IDEAS Chief Executive, Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

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After GE13: Strengthening democracy in Malaysia

August 1st, 2013 by admin Categories: Governance, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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The outcome of Malaysia’s 13th General Election (GE13) is still contested. Some argue that since Pakatan Rakyat won the popular vote, Barisan Nasional therefore does not have the legitimacy to rule. But all political parties entered the election knowing that popular vote is not the deciding factor in a parliamentary system. Popular vote cannot be the basis to protest against the elected government, but it can be used to call for reform of the political system especially the electoral system.

Positing that a healthy democratic system is the best legacy we can pass to future generations, this paper takes the premise that there is now an opportunity to deepen democracy in Malaysia by moving on and focusing on issues that matter.

Democracy in Malaysia is a legacy to be cherished. Many developing countries have not been able to build strong democratic institutions. But we have these institutions today and we urgently need to strengthen them.

Reforming the electoral processes is a key step to deepen democracy in Malaysia. Creating a parliamentary committee to oversee the Election Commission (EC) may be a step in the right direction, but replacing the EC leadership with one that can command more public trust would be a much stronger step. Once that is done, it would be necessary to look into the unequal constituency apportionment, political financing, and press freedom. All are important to improve the
democratic election of a government.

The paper also discusses other important reforms to deepen democratic governance, such as the need to distribute power to other levels of government, strengthening the role of civil society and parliament in providing check and balance, creating healthy interaction between government and opposition, and ensuring positive relationship between the federal and state governments regardless of which party is in power.

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