JOHOR BARU, MALAYSIA - It is the leadership quality and creativity of its teachers more than physical infrastructure that will determine the success of a school in educating the young ones.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said such achievement by schools is given due recognition by according them with the status of "cluster school" and "high performance school".
"The Education Ministry can provide infrastructure, such as beautiful buildings, but without teachers who are dedicated and creative in educating our children, it is of no use," he said when launching the golden jubilee celebration of SMK Sultan Ismail here yesterday.
Citing the school as an example, Muhyiddin said the cluster school continues to be known for academic and co-curricular achievements after 50 years due to good leadership from its teaching staff.
"This school was awarded a cluster school status in 2008. And the principal says it is now nominated for a high performance school status. This achievement could be enjoyed by other schools, too."
Muhyiddin, who is education minister, said certain criteria needed to be met for a school to be awarded high performance status, among them academic and co-curricular successes, and having various activities that spur creativity and a culture of excellence.
He said having high performance schools would ensure that Malaysian schools' quality were on par with established institutions at a global level.
"Even if there were 20 high performance schools now, it could be increased to 30 next year and probably 100 in years to come."
He said the level of creativity in school activities could be improved as it was still at a moderate level.
"That is why we created the School Improvement Programme, in which every school is given an improvement tool kit and given a period to alleviate itself to a higher level of success."
Later, speaking at the closing of the parent-teacher association and excellence awards presentation at SK Bandar Baru Uda (2), one of the 20 that have been listed as high performance schools, Muhyiddin said the autonomy that came with the high performance status should be translated into better and creative administration.
Muhyiddin said the autonomy should not be limited to school administration alone, as principals and headmasters could be more creative in improving students' performance.
For example, Muhyiddin said subjects which saw weak performance should be given more class hours.
"Let's say if the students in a class are high scorers in English language but are weaker in science. Why not reduce the time slots for English, since they are already good at it and allocate more periods for science?"
Also present at the event was Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.
-New Strait Times