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The performance of Malaysian students in the PISA 2012 rankings once again left the nation wondering when copious amounts of public expenditure on education would translate to markedly improved results. Malaysian students showed some improvement in Mathematics moving up 17 points to 421, a two point decrease in Science at 420, and a 16 point decrease in Reading at 398. These results mean that not only do average Malaysian students perform well below the average OECD student, but they also fare worse than students in countries such as Thailand and Chile. This paper, first published by the Cato Institute,  looks at the failures of the government education system in the United States and argues that markets can provide better quality education through vouchers & choice, profit-making schools, entrepreneurial educationists and contracting out of certain services. The paper goes on to look at how and why lessons from this paper are relevant to the highly centralised Malaysian education system, and why education reform should focus on the child if the country aspires to move up in global education rankings.

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