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KUALA LUMPUR: Debates on establishing a single-school system and abolishing vernacular schools are not the key to transform the education system in this country into a higher level.

Universiti Malaya (UM) Institute of Educational Leadership Director, Prof Dr Alma Harris said Malaysia was already a unique country, thus, respecting and embracing diversity would ensure effectiveness in transforming the education system.

"In a country like Malaysia, which is multicultural, it is important for you to recognise and celebrate the different ethnics and culture. The two key points in a high performance system and countries is not only excellence but also equity," she told reporters here today.

She was speaking at the inaugural lecture series for Arsyad Ayub Foundation on "Leading Educational Change and Transformation in Complex Times".

As the senior adviser to the Welsh government in 2010 until 2012, Harris was responsible for the national implementation of professional learning communities to all schools and districts.

On the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, she said it was commendable but suggested that the government should be focusing more on few important elements such as improving the teacher's classroom practises.

She also suggested that Malaysia should not be too distracted with using the latest technology in the classroom as previous research proved otherwise.

"In a research released yesterday, it is found that students from the low income family background are doing better in term of mathematics compared to the high level income students from England," she said.

Harris also cautioned everyone for relying too much on the ranking system like the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) as the indicator for Malaysia's improvement in terms of education.

She said that Malaysia's current concern should be improving school leadership and teachers' quality through distributed leadership where every individual in the school work as a team to ensure a successful transformation.

"The right things are improving school leadership and improving teacher quality. They are intrinsically linked and are the two most powerful levers of system improvement." she said, adding that in Malaysia, the challenge was to use them. - BERNAMA

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