I realize that there has been no in depth thinking done on our “education policies”. The fact that our education policy has failed to create a general Malaysian awareness and sense of unity among the Rakyat is evident from the various complaints of polarization that has occurred in our schools and especially in our universities. After 50 years of Merdeka, today people are saying that there is greater “divisiveness” among the people, though we are able to live peacefully among us.
I do believe that a few of us, no matter what, choose to be racists and bigoted religionists (Some comments on this blog testify to this). These people cannot think beyond their noses and can never see the goodness of other people who belong in another social construct. There are such FEW people in our midst and they will be here forever as a challenge to the majority who want to evolve into human beings. Hence, you hear some people still saying “Malays” are lazy and greedy as though ALL Malays are such Same thing about “Chinese” being wealthy and materialistic as though ALL Chinese are.
And in these discussions, I seldom hear this particular Chinese or Malay or Indian or etc talking about Orang Asli rights, Iban rights, Kadazan rights, etc. Why, these people do not even think about the “rights” of the millions of immigrant workers who are in our midst. I suppose to these people, because the Bangladeshi, the Indonesians, the Filipinos, Chinese, etc workers are not Malaysians, they therefore cease to be humans! If you understand what I am saying, I am asking you to look into yourself before you even condemn people, who in their own small way, try very hard to create an awareness that we can all evolve into human beings.
But of course, what I am hoping for is a tall order. People never want to blame themselves for the condition or the mindset that they chose to have. Have we ever thought that in the same condition, two people will behave very differently? Since asking people to look into themselves is a “tall order” let me now return to the more tolerable external topic of “education policy”.
I really do not know if there is a comprehensive education policy in our country. My feeling is that it has all been ad hoc to achieve ad hoc objectives, mostly influenced by politics. For example, at one time there was a mad rush to push students into the science stream even if the student is not interested in it. Pushing students into the science stream may not bad in itself but the further thought of where these students are going to absorbed in their working life has never been thought out. Courses are introduced without a thought for the future. Syllabuses are weak and inappropriate and one wonders why.
Today, we have vernacular schools, National schools, religious schools (sekolah agama), sekolah pondok, private schools, international schools, etc. All these are attended by children from ages 7 to 17, the formative years. Do you not then expect diversity? Diversity in itself is fine but what if the diversity leads to isolation of those from these schools from each other? Is that good? Is that not what is happening today? Is it not about time that we came up with a solution to prevent the breeding of isolation from so early an age among our children? Where is the cohesive, comprehensive education policy?
(How dare we even dare to talk about unity when we deliberately segregate them at so young an age? Do we not have any sense of shame? Or maybe what we are really concerned about is our “rights” - when what we actually mean is our share of the cake, our own culture, our own religion, our own language, our, our, our, our, our. Shame!)
Next, we will want to know what the objective of the education policy is. Does anyone know? Looking at the nature of material (I will not call it knowledge), taught in our schools and the manner of examinations that are conducted, I think it is fair to say that we are at least, creating parrots, unthinking citizens. Do you realize that today there are so many students getting so many As? It looks like this country is mass-producing geniuses and yet we encounter poor quality graduates. The education “planners” seem to have forgotten that “academic brilliance is no substitute for poverty of character”. I wish those who should will sit down and try thinking for a change – think about what our education policy objective should be. We do not want a repeat of the maths-science in English or Malay or Punjabi type of debate anymore. It is embarrassing and demeaning to a thinking person.
Thirdly, the politicization of education MUST stop. The first step to do this is to remove people on the “board of education” policy those who have hidden agendas. The only agenda permissible in education is to “educate” and to teach skills. Such politicization of education has led to lies in the textbooks, “doctored”, dishonest “theses”, propaganda at its worst and so on. There must be a total reform of the education system, syllabuses, materials, etc. Educational opportunities should be available to all Malaysians.
There are of course many “purposes” of an education policy. Quite apart from the obvious one of “educating”, it must also be geared towards the creation of a sense of true humanity, and Malaysian-ness. We have to move away from the emphasis on superficiality and zero in into substance.
People today are quite tired of meaningless symbols and superficialities. In the field of education, we need courageous leaders who will move into the “substance of education”. If the current Government does not even want to address this point, they can forget about achieving 1Malaysia. It may be a case of taking one step forward and three steps back.