Towards Improving Our National Education System

14 08 2012

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.

Thank you.


An article by:

Jebat Must Die




9 responses

14 08 2012
Towards improving our national education system | Jebat Must Die

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14 08 2012
SSS Admin

We thank JMD for the article.

15 08 2012

Tq sir,
really with you on THIS, and THIS ONLY! I,m a typical product of 1976 Sarawak last English Medium English. By 1983 hv to switch to bm for a good 7 yrs till U6. Then hv to crack my head to read law books n case laws in my Alma.. MU? TG! Back to work, ENGLISSSSSSH!
Regards, Sarawak

16 08 2012

Ya lah, bro, so many had to face those problems. That’s why we have to keep telling the politicians not to keep changing policies. Not to regard us as guinea pigs. Or try to score points or attempt at “leaving a legacy”, konon. Rakyat suffer, lah.

And we tell the non-politicians oso. Be constructive, go according to the Constitution, the laws, do things useful, not like so-called sasterawan negara, old white bearded Samad Said also want to go on street demonstrations with the Bersih people. He was the vocal fellow wanting everything in BM. I support BM fully but I want PPSMI.

15 08 2012

Salam JMD/SSS,

After reading your post, I am very much anticipating your views on “Islamination” of our school system. Extreme as it may sound but I would prefer my children learning about worldy skills and knowledge WITH “true” Islamic leanings, how/when/where else will they learn about the flexibility and diversity of the religion? At home? when will they have the time? daily they will come back from school usually exhausted towing homeworks, what about their time to play with their peers/exercise/sports/socialising? what about tuition classes? or we should just leave their religious development for another time/age? I’m afraid then, it will be too late for them.

I was really taken aback with your implying that schools with religious leanings “cannot develop a well rounded Malaysians” and “we burden them with misguided priorities”. I may have missed something but true religious teaching divide society? Honest religious scare parents away? Really?

I cannot give you numbers but I believe religious schools does produce “well rounded students”, maybe not as many as “secular” schools, but they do produce them. I, myself is a product of a “missionary” school FYI. What is the ratio? plus minus I would say it sums up just about equal. The thing with human development is there is just too many gray, unforecasted deciding factors, what may work with one student may not work with the other.

I am very much in agreement with the 9 priorities field that was produced but I see them as “tactics” for producing good students but not the real “strategy” which should be the overarching goal of our education system. For me, I like my children to be like a fish, although they live in salted waters but their meat is never salty. I would like for them to be their own “being” and not just another industrial product, which is what our education system is a victim of if you look at its, be all end all, emphasis on science subjects and mathematics.

I believe life is more than just science and mathematics and I would like to be able to leave it to my children and trust them to choose their own calling may it be in the field of science or arts, without sacrificing their integrity and soul, which I believe can be learnt through the teachings of my religion, Islam.

In conclusion, I am not an education specialist, this may not work for everyone/every child but I cannot with good conscience separate the development of my child from their religion. Unlike those who may think religion is another burden for them to carry and believe me its not. I see it as a solid/liberating platform for my children to excel.

15 08 2012

I am glad to read your views. Though I was surprised that your name is Roberto and you declared your religion being Islam. Maybe it’s your blogging nickname. But even if your real name is Roberto and your are a Muslim, it does not matter to me. Or to any others I should think. I’m a Muslim myself.

I only want to say about the need for balance in our attitude and approach towards life, towards development, be it national, school or family. The Constitution of the country states Islam as the religion of the country. I’m not sure what you mean by Islamization but I think we need to be concerned that other religions are allowed to be practised.

Still, I believe that no one should criticize, for example, schools having prayers said Muslim style at school assemblies in the Peninsular or anywhere in the country so long as non-Muslim pupils are not required to raise their hands Muslim style.

Likewise, I think others should not be using the kalimah Allah because that clearly denotes the one and only, whereas the word Tuhan is sufficient and aptly describes the Christian God, which takes the form of the Trinity of The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This matter is now before the Court of Appeal and let’s wait for the hearing and subsequent decision.

17 08 2012

Dear Alberto,

Perhaps I may have left out a few points in the article about Islamic religious studies. Although I did put a line there that the important thing is, moderation. In the light of excessive ‘Islamisation’ in our schools in recent years, the only result would be less and less non muslim parents sending their children to national schools. As an example, there were instances where a school forced non malay girls to wear baju kurung instead of giving them other option of wearing a pinafore, or speeches in general assemblies that spoke of ‘kafirs’ and chastising non muslim children. We hear about this several times.

This is the extremism that I was talking about. Not the fact that should they learn religion, they won’t become well rounded students. In fact I do believe that students must have Islamic classes in national schools. Extremism in any form, can be destructive.

I read a study once that some of the students that were produced from schools which practice extreme form of ‘Islamic/arabic culture’ (I emphasise culture, not teachings) were quite anti-social and unable to successfully integrate in the tertiary education. But like I wrote earlier, we need them to achieve a better prospects for the ever changing world out there.

I think people my age were doing fine during the pre-90s education system. We learnt adequate Islamic studies and able to converse with other races, and of course, our studies were not hampered by “it’s us against them” atmosphere.

I never had the chance to go to missionary schools or boarding schools. I went to Victoria Institution in secondary. But I do went to a national primary school in Melaka, where islamic studies are learnt in afternoon classes after official school hours. It was compulsory for muslim students. I believe this is still being practiced in Johor.

Thank you.

6 09 2012

I think everyone here are naive to think that the government is trying their best to improve in educating our young ones.
I can only come up with one reason PPSMI was abolished. And that is due to many nons were registering and returning back into the sekolah kebangsaan system. To those who are BTN inspired, this is a threat to the enrolment of bumis into higher education later on as many of these government institution has already initiated enrolment based on mertit. Which means places for bumis will be crowded out.
The current reason that rural students are fairings badly with PPSMI is a lousy excuse as it’s a worldwide phenomena including in the US and europe that rural student do not as well as urban ones.
So you see boys and girls, any policy this government does is dictated by racial undertones and has no students interest at heart.
The bad part of abolishing this PPSMI is that it profits the extreme right wing groups of both the Malays and Chinese by further polarising our students into sekolah kebangsaan and Chinese schools.
I bet the enrolment into Chinese secondary schools probably dropped when PPsMI was introduced. And the good part of PPSMI is the fact that many non Malays students actually took extra tuition classes to improve their Malay.

6 09 2012

For some one trying to sound high and mighty and trying to belittle the Government’s intention, saying “I think everyone here are naive to think that the government is trying their best to improve in educating our young ones” tells the kind of bloke he is that his opinion is not worth for us to bother.

“Everyone here,” said he. Careless, irresponsible and irritating, isn’t he? “are naive ..,” said he. Not even knowing simple grammar.

And he has no proof to show that the Government is not “trying their best to improve in educating our young ones.” He only gives his opinions. Likewise, I hereby give my opinion that this fellow’s opinions are shit.

I would have respected his opinion a bit if he had said that the Government tried but the results were not satisfactory to him. But he makes wild accusations without any justification, I rest my case.

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