Community Leadership / Education / Malay-Muslim Community

Statistical Analysis Supports National Approach on “Malay” Issues

Singapore-Flag-2Farhan Ali, a PhD candidate at Harvard University and a former RIMA Board member, wrote an excellent statistical analysis of the performance of Malay students over the last 20 years.

Farhan found as follows:

There is a strong correlation between Malay and national trends in % passes over the last 2 decades.  In other words, Malay students trended up and down (with other non-Malay students) together.  An average of 90% of Malay trends can be explained by national trends.

In Farhan’s view, this finding has three related important implications:

First, much of the outcomes of the Malay cohorts are driven by national factors, beyond the community.

Second, even when considering absolute performance of Malay students, it is not clear the improvements, if any, over the years can be attributed to any community intervention since national factors can similarly explain the positive outcomes.

Third, community intervention programmes can only work if the stronger effect of the national trend does not counter such positive outcomes. For these reasons, community-centric approaches in the next twenty years, operating in vacuum of national factors, are not expected to produce significant effects on the overall performance of Malay students.

I think Farhan’s work is very significant.  It represents an objective and detailed statistical assessment of trends in performance of Malay students. As far as I know, this has not yet been done.

This also calls into question our approach in looking at the Malay educational issue as a “Malay” problem, and the community-centric approach in looking at educational intervention efforts.

Despite our efforts over the last 20 years, it appears that the trends in education are similar to national trends.  In other words, any incremental benefit of community-based programs is not evident.

I think this provides strong support to my arguments here calling for a national approach in addressing “Malay issues”.

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One thought on “Statistical Analysis Supports National Approach on “Malay” Issues

  1. Hi, Farhan Ali’s analysis is most definitely an interesting one, and more importantly it provides important insights for the community. However, I find that there are some information lacking, such as the sample size of his analysis. Also, there is a danger in doing regression analysis with just two or three variables; more covariates are needed to produce more robust findings. As he correctly pointed out, MOE does practise moderating (or curve grading) which possibly explains the parallel trends. In any case, this is a good start in getting the community leaders to rethink our pedagogy philosophy. Thank you for sharing.

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