Education Ministry upset over news portal’s misquotation of Harvard professor’s remarks on M’sian higher learning

The Education Ministry has expressed regret over how the opinions of Harvard researcher Prof Lant Pritchett, on the state of higher education in Malaysia, was wrongly characterised in the headline of a news portal recently.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry said the headline had misquoted Pritchett’s remarks, which seemed to characterise the state of higher education in the country as poor.

“What is even more unfortunate is that Prof Pritchett himself has openly chided the headline, resulting in an apology from the portal,” Education Director-General Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said yesterday.

In the statement, Khair said the ministry is always open to different views to further strengthen and develop the national education policy, and that it values any differing opinions on the implementation of education programmes and initiatives.

“The ministry also values the opinions given by Pritchett, that a learning process that is too focused on rote memorisation and intensive exercises for examinations in school will not help students and pupils at the tertiary level,” he added.

The statement centred on a recent report by the portal, which carried a headline quoting Pritchett as saying: “Local grads only as good as Danish high school dropouts”.

Pritchett has since clarified that he had said nothing of the sort at the Asia Public Policy Forum 2017, organised by the Harvard Kennedy School and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Southeast Asia.

In the report, published in the independent news portal, Pritchett was quoted as citing research in Indonesia, which found that the level of literacy among Indonesian adults could be compared to that of junior high school dropouts in Denmark.

He had therefore been misquoted about Malaysian local graduates.

The portal had cited Pritchett as saying he feared the same could be true with Malaysian graduates, if their schools fail to prepare them for university-level education. The portal has apologised for its error.

Source – New Straits Times