Around circles of readers, many have discussed and asked among themselves the appropriateness and the need for Malaysia to streamline their education system and importantly, the effort to improve the quality of our schools as a whole.
Chief among the concerns is the legality of vernacular schools itself vis-á-vis the Constitution and the Education Act 1996.
This I may add has been discussed rather thoroughly here.
But this issue shall be discussed at another time.
My main interpretation of school’s education system is this:
It must be free from any religious or cultural extremities.
In a way, it should be secular. Secular sounds dirty these days. Mainly because the word had been bastardised to the extent, it meant atheism or a belief system that is devoid of any religious connotations. Worse, it meant anti-Islam. However, the definition of secularism with regards to our children’s education should not be taken to the extreme. Certainly it does not mean that one rejects religion and faith in totality.
What we need is moderation.
These days, the majority of school children in national schools are Malays. Therefore, inadvertently Islamic teachings made their way into the schools’ general rules and education philosophy. I assume, those who are more objective as well as those who are not a fan of Anwar Ibrahim will pin point the cause of this ‘Islamisation’ of our national schools and the reason why non-malays shun these schools stemmed from the period when Anwar Ibrahim was the Education Minister.
That too, is an issue that can be discussed in another place.
But what I imagine is a school system that do not put too much emphasis on skin deep outlook on what is Islamic and what is not. It means, an education philosophy that prioritises worldly skills and knowledge instead of just focussing to permeate an intense Islamic culture within a school’s environment.
Without a doubt, this has made non Muslims felt alienated in their own surroundings. Parents were not happy. Even the less conservative Muslims found it hard to digest some of the do’s and don’ts. The effort to educate the children properly seems lost in the midst of all this. As the result, we cannot develop a well rounded Malaysians who are capable to interact with each other with ease.
In other words, the recent education system is worse than the education set in the 60′s, 70′s and till the mid 80′s. Experts pin pointed it due to the degradation of national schools; both in quality and self respect.
The cliché now is the world is changing at a rate faster than our children’s ability to absorb and comprehend all the knowledge. If we burden them with misguided priorities, then our future generations are trapped in a cycle of ignorance, or being mediocre at best.
Toning down religious and cultural extremities enables the school to produce a much healthier environment where tolerance is paramount and it breaks down the barriers between races, castes and classes. Emphasising too much on the ritual demands will not breed respect in fact, will isolate the children from each other. It will be “it’s us against them” mentality. And this does not happen in malay majority schools only.
How to move forward and take that jump in order to escape the mediocrity of our education system?
It is about time the Ministry of Education take a stronger role in steering our children’s future away from the negative elements that have been plaguing it. Elements that have always been sniping and eating away the very fabric of one’s edification in growing up within our Malaysian universe.
The bigger objective here is always a two edged sword. One that can improve via knowledge, a whole generation of Malaysians and one that also inculcate the spirit of togetherness and racial harmony among the children.
Of course this can be done with a single stream national education system. Preferably at the primary level.
Delving into few discussions on the one school system, there are obviously few doubts being raised among the concerned readers. Among others, questions regarding the quality of education and syllabus, quality of teachers and their approach, learning environment and school’s infrastructure as well as its overall ability to coalesce different ideologies, religions and cultures into one symbiotic and workable system.
Generally, many agreed that the holistic performance of the students is very important for their own future and this can only be done if the MOE is not weak in steering its direction and truly knows how improvements can be implemented.
One of the reasons why national schools could not generate enough interests from all levels of society is due to its inability to churn good students across the board. Yes we do have excellent schools that produce a myriad of high achievers. But these schools are far from between. The MOE should make all national schools at par with their more affluent counterparts.
Fortunately, all the points above are being discussed in the national education dialog which have been running since April 2012. They have 9 priority fields which they ought to improve which are:
1. quality of teachers
2. quality of headmasters
3. quality of school
4. curriculum and its evaluation
5. multilingual proficiency
6. post-school opportunity
7. role of parents and community
8. knowledge resources in school and its effectiveness
9. teaching methods and administrative structure
This could be the biggest project MOE has embarked since Penyata Razak in 1956 and Rahman Talib Report in 1960.
On that note, I do hope the MOE will reinstate the PPSMI after reviewing the youtube video below.
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