In October 2011, the Ministry of Education Malaysia launched a comprehensive review of the education system in Malaysia in order to develop a new National Education Blueprint. This decision was made in the context of rising international education standards, the Government's aspiration of better preparing Malaysia's children for the needs of the 21st century, and increased public and parental expectations of education policy. Over the course of 11 months, the Ministry drew on many sources of input, from education experts at UNESCO, World Bank, OECD, and six local universities, to principals, teachers, parents, and students from every state in Malaysia. The result is the preliminary report: Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 that evaluates the performance of Malaysia's education system against historical starting points and international benchmarks (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg E-1). The Blueprint also offers a vision of the education system and students that Malaysia both needs and deserves, and suggests 11 strategic and operational shifts that would be required to achieve that vision (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg E-18), which is:
Shift 1: Provide equal access to quality education of an international standard.
Shift 2: Ensure every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and English language.
Shift 3: Develop values-driven Malaysians.
Shift 4: Transform teaching into the profession of choice.
Shift 5: Ensure high-performing school leaders in every school.
Shift 6: Empower JPNs, PPDs, and schools to customise solutions based on need.
Shift 7: Leverage ICT to scale up quality learning across Malaysia.
Shift 8: Transform Ministry delivery capabilities and capacity.
Shift 9: Partner with parents, community, and private sector at scale.
Shift 10: Maximise student outcomes for every ringgit.
Shift 11: Increase transparency for direct public accountability.
1.2 The Background and Context of the Study
1.2.1 Background to the Blueprint
In 1957, Malaysia inherited a fragmented education system; while a select few were educated at elite institutions, over half of the population had never received formal schooling. The Razak Report (1956) and the Rahman Talib Report (1960) on education were developed in quick succession during this period. The principles laid out formed the basis for Malaysia's first Education Act of 1961. The Cabinet Report (1979) was another major milestone that emphasised building a Malaysian society ready for the future. It envisioned a truly holistic view of education, aiming to develop students intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-2).
In the more than five decades since independence, the education system has passed through many major milestones, from the introduction of new curricula such as the Primary School Integrated Curriculum (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah, KBSR) and the Secondary School Integrated Curriculum (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah, KBSM) that were developed following the Cabinet Report (1979), through to the development of a National Education Philosophy (1988) and revised Education Act (1996). Nonetheless, throughout all these changes, achieving access, quality, and equity in terms of student outcomes, unity amongst all students, and by extension system efficiency and effectiveness to deliver these, have remained constant anchors for the system (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-1).
Most recently, the Ministry, in partnership with other agencies under the Government Transformation Porgramme (GTP), has made significant progress in expanding preschool enrolment from 67% in 2009 to 77% over the short span of two years. The percentage of Year 1 students who are literate and numerate have risen from 87% in 2010 to 95% in 2011, and from 87% in 2010 to 97% in 2011, respectively. These gains offer a clear demonstration that significant and rapid results in education are possible (Ministry of Educatio Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-1).
According to the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025, the changing and increasingly competitive national and international landscape requires a rethink of where Malaysia stands today, and where the nation needs to move forward. Further, there are indicators that the system needs to be more competitive in today's changing world. Out of 74 countries participating in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009+, Malaysia performed in the bottom third for Reading, Mathematics, and Science (below both the international and OECD averages) (pg 1-4).
The Government recognises that the Malaysian education system must continue evolving to keep up with the nation's increasing aspirations, as well as to keep up with peer countries. Today's globalised world and economy requires its participants to be critical, creative, and innovative thinkers. To keep up with ever-evolving demands, the rest of the world is constantly improving their approaches to education, and Malaysia must as well (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-4).
1.2.2 Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025
Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 has been designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century, building on the foundations of the previous seminal reports and policies, and focusing on ways to develop and further pave the way for the education system's continuous growth and improvement (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-4). The Blueprint is based around three specific objectives:
(a) Understanding the current performance and challenges of the Malaysian school system, with a focus on improving access to education, raising standards (quality), closing achievement gaps (equity), and promoting unity amongst students and maximizing system efficiency;
(b) Establishing a clear vision and aspirations for the education system and individual students over the next 13 years through to 2025;
(c) Outlining a comprehensive transformation programme for the system, including key changes to the Ministry which will allow it to meet new demands and rising expectations, and to ignite and support overall civil service transformation.
This Blueprint is the outcome of in-depth analyses, interviews, focus groups, surveys and research conducted with the support of Malaysian and international experts, Ministry officials, teachers, principals, and parents all across Malaysia. There are three phases in the process of the development of this blueprint. Phase 1 was a comprehensive review and diagnostic of the education system, which started with a detailed evaluation of the performance of the Malaysian education system, focusing on student outcomes, assessing the root causes and key drivers for this level of performance, and recognising existing examples of excellence in the education system as models for emulation and replication. Phase 2 was focused on developing this preliminary Education Blueprint, by building upon the findings from Phase 1 to identify a set of priority areas and detailing a comprehensive transformation programme of policies and initiatives to be undertaken over the next 13 years, between 2013 and 2025. Phase 3 will focus on finalising the Blueprint, whch will primarily involve wide-ranging consultation and engagement with teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders to gather feedback on the preliminary Blueprint. This feedback will be incorporated into the final version of the Blueprint (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 1-4 - 1-7).
1.2.3 Aspirations for the Malaysian Education System and Malaysian students
In order to properly address the needs of all Malaysians, and to prepare the nation to perform at an international level, it is important to first envision what a highly-successful education system must accomplish, particularly in the Malaysian context. These aspirations comprise two aspects: firstly, those for the education system as a whole, and secondly, those for individual students. This vision, and these aspirations, will set the stage for the transformation of the Malaysian education system (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg E-9).
(a) System aspirations
There are five outcomes that the Blueprint aspires to for the Malaysian education system as a whole, which is access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency. These outcomes are in line with the aspirations articulated by participants during the National Dialogue, and are comparable to outcomes set by other high-performing education systems. Action across all five areas is important, and no initiative in one area should detract from or undermine progress in another (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg E-9).
(i) Access: Every child in Malaysia deserves equal access to an education that will enable that child to achieve his or her potential. The Ministry thus aspires to ensure universal access and full enrolment of all children from preschool through to upper secondary school level (Form 5) by 2020.
(ii) Quality: All children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education that is uniquely Malaysian and comparable to the best international systems. The aspiration is for Malaysia to be in the top third of countries in terms of performance in international assessments, as measured by outcomes in TIMSS and PISA, within 15 years. (TIMSS and PISA currently test for literacy, Mathematics, and Science only. Additional assessments that address other dimensions of quality that are relevant to the Malaysian context may be included as they are developed and become accepted international standards).
(iii) Equity: Top-performing school systems deliver the best possible education for every child, regardless of geography, gender, or socio-economic background. The Ministry aspires to halve the current urban-rural, socio-economic, and gender achievement gaps by 2020.
(iv) Unity: As students spend over a quarter of their time in school from the ages of 7 t0 17, schools are in a key position to foster unity. Through interacting with individuals from a range of socio-economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds - and learning to understand, accept and embrace differences-a shared set of experiences and aspirations for Malaysia's future can be built. The Ministry aspires to create a system where students have opportunities to build these shared experiences and aspirations that form the foundation for unity.
(v) Efficiency: The Malaysian education system has always been well-funded, yet improvements in student outcomes have not always matched the resources channelled into the system. While the Government will maintain current levels of investment, the aspiration is to further maximise student outcomes within the current budget levels.
(b) Student aspirations
Beyond these system-wide outcomes, it is also important for the educators, parents, students, and other members of the public were united in a vision of education as a vehicle for the holistic development of children, which is intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The Blueprint will continue to use the National Education Philosophy's vision of a balanced education as its foundation for individual student aspirations. It has also drawn on learnings from other high-performing systems to develop a refined articulation of the specific skills and attributes that students would need to thrive in tomorrow's economy and globalised world (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg E-9 - E-10):
(i) Knowledge: At the most basic level, every child will be fully literate and numerate. Beyond this, it is important that students master core subjects such as Mathematics and Science, and are informed with a rounded general knowledge of Malaysia, Asia, and the world - their histories, people, and geography. Students will also be encouraged to develop their knowledge and skills in other areas such as the arts, music, and sports.
(ii) Thinking skills: Every child will learn how to continue acquiring knowledge throughout their lives (instilling a love for inquiry and lifelong learning), to be able to connect different pieces of knowledge, and, most importantly in a knowledge-based economy, to create new knowledge. Every child will master a range of important cognitive skills, including problem-solving, reasoning, creative thinking, and innovation. This is an area where the system has historically fallen short, with students being less able than they should be in applying knowledge and thinking critically outside familiar academic contexts.
(iii) Leadership skills: In our increasingly inter-connected world, being able to lead and work effectively with others is critical. The education system will help every student reach his or her full potential by creating formal and informal opportunities for students to work in teams, and to take on leadership roles. In the context of the education system, leadership encompasses four dimensions: entrepreneurship, resilience, emotional intelligence, and strong communication skills.
(iv) Bilingual Proficiency: Every child will be, at minimum, operationally proficient in Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and language of unity, and in English as the international language of communication. This means that upon leaving school, the student should be able to work in both a Bahasa Malaysia and English language environment. The Ministry will also encourage all students to learn an additional language.
(v) Ethics and Spirituality: The education system will inculcate strong ethics and spirituality in every child to prepare them to rise to the challenges they will inevitably face in adult life, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to employ sound judgement and principles during critical moments, and to have the courage to do what is right. The education system also seeks to nurture caring individuals who gainfully contribute to the betterment of the community and nation.
(vi) National identity: An unshakeable sense of national identity, tied to the principles of the Rukunegara, is necessary for Malaysia's success and future. Every child will proudly identify as Malaysian, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status. Achieving this patriotism requires that every child understands the country's history, and share common aspirations for the future. Establishing a true national identity also requires a strong sense of inclusiveness. This can be achieved through not only learning to understand and accept diversity, but to embrace it.
1.3 Problem Statement
The Malaysian education system aspires to ensure that every student in every school in every state achieves their full potential. Each and every school leader, teacher, parent, and the community has an important role to play in ensuring that the young people in their charge are moving towards these aspirations. The blue print will continue to use the National Education Philisophy's vision of a balanced education as its foundation for individual student aspirations. Accordingly, the National Education Phiposophy's vision of a balanced education is reflected in six elements, which are knowledge, thinking skills, leadership skills, bilingual proficiency, ethics and spirituality, and national identity (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012b, pg 2-5).
An evaluation system towards the students' six aspirations is needed to ensure that the young people in their charge are moving towards these aspirations, and make sure that the students will succeed and thrive in an increasingly globalized world. This is essensial to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess hgh moral standards, and who are responsible and capable of achieving high levels of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, the society, and the nation at large, as mentioned in the National Education Philosophy for Malaysia which written in 1988 and revised in 1996 (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012a).
Evaluation instruments are important in the evaluation system, but so far there is no any instruments specifically developed to assess students' six aspirations yet. More over, little or no research was found, with regard to invectigating the validity and reliability of the particular psychometric tests used for the evaluation of student's national identity in Malaysia. Therefore, the focus of this research is to develop an evaluation instrument towards one of the student's aspirations - student's national identity, which can be one of the references for the Ministry of Education Malaysia in the development of evaluation instruments.
1.4 Research Questions
Research questions are interrogative sentences that clearly and succinctly state the major question or questions to be answered in the study. The research questions are really sub-problems that when answered will fulfill the purpose of the study (Cottrell & McKenzie, 2010, pg 82).
This study addressed the following questions:
(a) What is the content validity of the instrument of students' ethics and spirituality?
(b) What is the construct validity of the instrument of students' national identity?
(c) What is the test-retest reliability of the instrument of students' national identity?
(d) What is the internal consistency reliability of instrument of students' national identity?
1.5 The Purpose Statement
According to Johnson and Christensen (2010), the statement of the purpose of a research study is a statement of the researcher's intent or objective of this study. This statement follows logically from the identification of one or more research problems. It is needed to ensure that the researchers have a good grasp of the specific problem that they wish to investigate (pg 73).
The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate an instrument that measures students' national identity.
1.6 Objectives of the Study
The clear, specific objectives are essential to ensure that the instrumentation, sampling, and data types are appropriate to yield answers to the research questions, and to ensure as high level of sophistication of data analysis is undertaken as the data will sustain (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2007, pg 211).
The purpose and research questions were studied with the following objectives:
(a) To develop an instrument to measure students' national identity.
(b) To establish content validity of the instrument of students' national identity.
(c) To examine construct validity of the instrument of students' national identity.
(d) To examine test-retest reliability of the instrument of students' national identity.
(e) To examine internal consistency reliability of the instrument of students' national identity.
1.8 Operational Definitions
According to Cottrell and McKenzie (2010), operational definitions are the terms that have special meaning or are unique to the study, or the terms that need to be operationally defined are found as variables in the purpose statement, research questions, or hypotheses (pg 90). Operational definitions are essensial for the readers better understanding of the title of study, and ease to use for references, because the same terms will be measured and known in different ways (McMillan, 1992).
1.8.1 Pscyhometric Evaluation
Set of test techniques by which a sample of behaviour is elicited, observed, recorded, analyzed amd interpreted. The principles of psychometric evaluation are reliability, validity, and standardisation.
1.8.2 National Identity
An unshakeable sense, tied to the principles of the Rukunegara, where the student will identify themselves proudly as Malaysians, irrespective of ethnicity, beliefs, socio-economic status or geographical location. Achieving this patriotism requires a strong sense of inclusiveness, acquired through learning to understand and tolerate difference, to accept and respect others, as well as to live together and embrace the diversity within the Malaysian community.
1.8.3 Content Validity
Refers to the degree to which a measure comprehensively assesses the underlying construct of interest; often referred to as face validity.
1.8.4 Construct Validity
The extent to which a measure actually measures what it intends to.
1.8.5 Test-retest Reliability
An estimate of the degree to which two (or more) administrations of the same test to the same group of examinees correlate with one another; also referred to as stability reliability, or the coefficient of stability.
1.8.6 Internal Consistency Reliability
The degree to which items on a measure correlate with one another, or the degree to which a measure is homogeneous.
1.9 The Significance of the Study
The significance of this study is in its potential to achieve a reliable and valid instrument that measures students' national identity. Students' national identity is very important as it is one of the six key attributes needed by every student to be globally competitive (pg E-10). According to Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 (2012), an unshakeable sense of national identity, which tied to the principles of the Rukun Negara, is necessary for Malaysia's future and to foster unity (pg 2-7). Therefore, the developed instrument can be used to assess and understand students' national identity, which will provide an input to Ministry of Education Malaysia for producing students who have the six key attributes to lead Malaysia's ascension as a regional economic and political powerhouse (pg 8-1).
In future research, the developed instrument of students' national identity can be used as one of the instruments to examine the relationships between students' knowledge, thinking skills, leadership skills, linguistic proficiency, ethics and spirituality, and national identity. In addition, the factors that influence students' national identity need to be identified by examining the relationships between students' national identity and other variables such as self-efficacy, perceived environment barriers, motivation, and so on, which may significantly influence students' national identity, also need to be conducted. Thus, intervention programs developing students' national identity can de developed from different perspectives, such as building up the students' sense of belonging and inclusiveness, and enhancement.
1.10 Limitations of Study
This chapter has discussed the research's background, statement of problems, research questions, purpose and objectives which are the "backbones" of this study, hypothesis of research that stated before the research started, operational definitions which explained the specific terms that used in this research, significants of this study, and the limitations which might be faced by the research during the progress.
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. 2007. Research Methods in Education. New York: Routledge.
Cottrell, R. R. & McKenzie, J. F. 2010. Health Promotion & Education Research Methods: Using the Five Chapter Thesis/ Dissertation Model. United States of America: Jones and Barlett Publishers, LCC.
Johnson, B. & Christensen, L. 2010. Educational Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Approaches, Fourth Edition. United States of America: SAGE Publications, Inc.
McMillan, J. H. 1992. Educational Research. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. 2012a. Education Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.moe.gov.my/?id=37&lang=en
Ministry of Education Malaysia. 2012b. Preliminary Report: Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025. Retrieved from http://edureview-download.e-sentral.com/Preliminary-Blueprint-Eng.pdf