Saturday, August 7, 2010

The So-called "Education Policy" - Have we been systematically reduced to an imbecile? Part 3

3. Let us briefly look at the so-called education policy in this country. We have to do this because there is a  mass delusion in this country encouraged by the politicians that the type of education in this country is making us “better all round”. I admit that it is difficult to try to discern any clear policy objective of our education policy for several reasons, primarily because it changes with changes of the Minister. The following characteristics, however, may be observed:

(a)                the policies appears to be largely political than educational;
(b)               after 52 years of Merdeka, we are still grappling with the basic issue of the medium of instruction and learning in the educational system (emotions rather than clear thinking rule this issue) eg Maths & Science in English or Bahasa Malaysia;
(c)                there does not seem to be a coherent, wholesome and long term educational policy that is equally flexible to keep pace with developments in knowledge and needs;
(d)               too many ad hoc, abrupt changes in policies that disrupts continuity and confuses the teachers;
(e)                we have adopted the Prussian education system without much thought
(f)                other than the science syllabuses, the arts syllabuses tend to be strongly influenced by mainstream political and religious biasness rather than objectivity, facts and “truth”.
(g)               Strong emphasis on examinations and memorization rather than reflection, and creative thinking. (If you do not like words, you can never do well because your mind may be picture tuned!)
(h)               For years, there has been little priority given to the quality of schools, teachers, teaching and learning materials relative to the other sectors which have received bigger budgets and greater attention.
(i)                 There is very little emphasis on the culture of research;
(j)                 A visit to any school library leaves the visitor worried;

Once upon a time, due to the then Government’s overemphasis on science subjects, even students who were not interested in science we forced into the Science stream or could not apply into the Arts stream.  I was one of them who was placed in the science stream and with immense difficulty, I had to study the Arts subjects myself and finally got into the Arts stream only in Upper Six!

Further, I could never understand the kind of so-called “science subjects” being taught in the universities without corresponding opportunities for application in the real world once they graduate.

I also feel that there seems to be no efforts to motivate or create a motivating atmosphere for teachers in the National Schools. I understand from some teachers I have been speaking to in the last few months that they now being burdened with further paperwork in the name of KPIs ! This is troublesome and distractive as the main focus of the teachers should be to cultivate the learning culture in the pupils and students.

I also find it disheartening that proper thought has not been given to the security of pupils in primary school once the school is over. You can find them loitering outside the school waiting for their school buses or their respective caretakers to take them home. In town, some of these schools are located along busy roads and can be dangerous for the primary school students. It is matters such as this and more that makes me wish that Ministers should be responsible and focus on their tasks rather than making political speeches which is increasingly becoming a bore.

At the University level, the students of today seem to have become more docile than their predecessors – national responsibility awareness and knowledge of general affairs in the country seems lacking. It appears that even University students have become examination orientated with no interest in the acquisition of knowledge. What went wrong?

The vernacular school system is yet another facet of our education system that has to be reviewed to determine its purpose in the light of the multi-racial nature of our society. I am not disputing that there are constitutional guarantees for this but I think we have to try to understand its utility in the larger scheme of things.

Any educational institution that deliberately caters only for one particular ethnic or religious group is not conducive for nation building since it deters the experience of and lessons from interaction between the differing ethnic or religious groupings.

As for agama schools, I do not think that it should be funded from the tax-payers’ money as I do not consider it conducive for nation-building as it only caters for one particular social construct. It creates an exclusive and insular attitude among the students which is anti-thesis to the reality of the Nation.
I can go on but I hope you get the picture – the schools, whether national, vernacular or agama are just floating along with no coherent and united direction.  Hence, these schools are producing citizens who will be inclined to move in opposite directions without even understanding why!

Next, God willing: Have we been systematically reduced to an imbecile? Part 4: Industrial revolution and Prussian style classrooms – our education system and classroom style of education is based largely on the Prussian education system and philosophy.


Kenn said...

I think our system (too much exam centric and too many subjects to study) has been "forced" upon right at the tender age. We rob their time to mingle and play with tons of books and homeworks.

Our early education system

Jasima said...

I totally agree that there is no direction in our education policy. We are not focused in even strengthening our medium of instruction.

Agree with Kenn - too much exam centric and robing our children of their creative years.

Mac said...

the usual impression i get with our education policy is, in a nutshell, to produce more educated public. We are achieving that (in this case educated means degree holders). But where i think we fail is in teaching students how to learn. i notice that many people would not like to venture into new areas of expertise because of this inability to learn something new. i really have repect for my lecturers in the UK who were by definition physical chemists, but were very well versed in statistics, physics and biology. you dont see that here. A professor in one particular area would struggle with other areas.

A second problem is with our unnecessary focus to produce graduates by numbers. look at the number of colleges and private universities we have now. This is the first time i am seeing universities and colleges having TV commercials. It is very quickly becoming another commercialised industry. I have met a number of new graduates from these new colleges, and trust me, they are no where close to the graduates from the "older" public universities. Something is very wrong here. i would have expected all degree holders, irrespective of universities, to have about the same quality level. (disclaimer- not all obviously)

Next, is our obsession with employment as opposed to employability. The latter would mean having gradutes who are versatile, i.e. knows how to learn. In a globalizing world, you have to be able to jump into new, unfamiliar roles, and perform.

younger generations (i am speaking as if i am old) have less patience. its all about instant gratification..people dont read and think as much as we should be. We rely on quick fixes and solutions. that impairs our ability to learn..which is about reading, reading, thnking and then reading and thinking again.