Prof Pritchett says he only talks about what he knows.
A Harvard researcher has clarified a report by FMT in which he 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, saying his comments about Malaysian local graduates had been misquoted.
Professor Lant Pritchett, who was one of the speakers at the Asia Public Policy Forum 2017, organised by Harvard Kennedy School and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Southeast Asia, said he had mentioned that he had no data on Malaysia and as such his statements “could not be construed as saying anything about Malaysia”.
“I never said anything like this,” he said in an email reply.
He said the data he presented was on a study on International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the grouping of 35 countries.
FMT, in its report on Wednesday, had quoted Pritchett as saying he feared the same could be true with Malaysian graduates if its schools failed to prepare students for university-level education.
“The reason is because students leave primary school without mastering the subjects and the same with secondary (school students). By the time they reach the tertiary (level), they are left far behind.
“There is no deep understanding of the materials. Instead, it is rote memorisation, applying theory and regurgitating it during exams,” he told FMT.
In his email reply, Pritchett said he told the FMT reporter that he did not know about the situation in Malaysia or on whether scores in global students assessment test PISA were similar in some respects to Indonesia.
“(I said) someone would have to do the study to find out and that I had not done it. I don’t think that this can be reasonably construed as saying anything about the skills of Malaysian university grads as the PISA results are only about 15 year olds,” he added.
“As a researcher, I like to only talk about what I know about using results that I or other researchers I trust have produced. Because of that I did not or would not say anything about Malaysian tertiary graduates.”