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More ‘thinking’ students needed
PETALING JAYA: Our education system should produce more thinking students who are critical and analytical, says National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Loke Yim Pheng, relative to the revamp planned by the Education Ministry to promote a global mindset.
“While the revamp is welcomed, the government should seek the opinions of all education-based associations in order to develop a better education system,” she said.
Loke said the current education system is too exam-orientated with insufficient space for creative and innovative thinking.
“Students nowadays are exposed to multiple subjects that take up too much time. Ultimately, the current focus is on finishing the syllabus and siting for examinations instead of encouraging students to think. This suppresses their inner ability to develop their full potential.
“They need to be independent-minded and examinations should perhaps be held just once a year.”
Loke said the planned revamp should have deeper engagement with information communication technology (ICT).
“In today’s rapidly progressing world, everything is ICT-based.
“The new system should be carried out gradually so that students do not experience ‘culture shock’.”
Historian and educationist Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim opined education should not be all about examinations.
“School children today do not have much knowledge about the world as they are only taught to sit for exams and later make money when they ought to be taught about good values,” he said.
Khoo said he once asked his research assistants to obtain more details about a topic but they came back empty-handed because they did not know where to look for the information.
“Some students don’t know how to fully use the library and the wealth of information such a place offers.
“I have lectured local and American students and when I invite questions, it is the Americans who fire off many while most Malaysians remain silent.“
Khoo said there are lessons to be learnt from the pre-Merdeka 1956 Razak Report, prepared by Tun Abdul Razak who was then the Education Minister, as part of the National Education Policy for the soon-to-be independent Federation of Malaya.
“His report stressed on national unity through the education system for there is more to education than memorising facts and figures,” he said.
“Students needed to be taught to respect one another, be law-abiding citizens and such good values needed to be instilled while they were schooling.”
Khoo said there is a need to have properly-trained teachers in order to produce thinking students.
“There’s no point in revamping the whole system if the teachers involved in the implementation are not trained well.”
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a team led by the director-general of education, Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mahmud, has been tasked with preparing a report on the complete revamping of the education system which will be tabled for cabinet approval by the end of this year.
RCI required for education system
THE government has been urged to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to study the country’s education system from pre-school to tertiary levels.
In making this call, National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council president, Associate Prof Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan (pic) said: “For the Malaysian education system to be on par with developed countries, there needs to be a holistic and social revamp of the whole education system. We also need to take cognisance of the 1956 Razak Report and the 1979 Mahathir Report.“
Mohamad Ali said the current education system is too examination-centric.
“Education should also be about life, with a more realistic and reliable approach along with more emphasis on content rather than form.
“There is also a need to increase proficiency in written and spoken English and encouragement of multi-lingualism.”
He said there is an urgent need to reduce polarisation in schools by fostering more racial integration.
“Teachers play a vital role in getting students of various backgrounds to mingle and understand each other better.
“We should also not neglect the physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs of students.”
Emphasis on English is important
PARENTS feel the revamp of the education system should emphasise the importance of proficiency in English, The Malay Mail found in a random survey.
“English is a universal language and unless we stress its importance, it will affect the future employability of our children,” says Saroja Francis, 50, who has three children.
“The reading habit among students is lacking and teachers should spend more time instilling knowledge that make students think.”
Saroja also said there is also a need to stamp out racist attitudes among students and teachers.
Another parent, Norhashimah Karim, agreed proficiency in English is vital.
“Students who can converse and write fluently in English have an advantage in acquiring greater knowledge and generally get better jobs and other opportunities,” said Norhashimah, 42, a mother of two children.
“The sooner the whole education system is revamped, the sooner our future generations and country will benefit.”
Khoo Heng Ching, a secondary school teacher with two children, commended the government’s revamp move.
“We must groom students to have a critical mindset and to provide them a solid educational foundation for their future,” he said.
“There needs to be a varied balance between academic and outdoor activities, and it should be compulsory for students to join a sports club, uniformed brigade or artistic society.”
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) president Datin Azimah Rahim said the revamp is crucial for the country to move forward.
“The current system is outdated in the sense that many graduates are not fit for employment and a lot of that has to do with not being proficient in English,” she said.
“Our education system was once on par with Singapore but it has since dropped to the level of Thailand. We should emulate the good education system found in Finland and South Korea.”
Azimah also said the examination grading has become too lenient too.
“There was a time when grade A meant 90 per cent correct answers but now grade A means about 70 per cent thus producing lower quality graduates and that has to change.”