September 15, 2012
The New Education Blueprint and Johan Jaafar’s Proverbial Camel
by Johan Jaafar
THERE was a story of a father, his son and their camel. They were going through a village when someone enquired why the father was riding while the son was walking alongside. “You’re heartless!” the other villagers shouted at the father. They changed places. In the next village, the villagers chastised the boy for being selfish, he should be the one walking. In another village, they were laughed at; what good is a camel if they are not riding on it? They were confused. Should they carry the camel instead?
The analogy is perfect for any education system, more so ours. Everyone has his or her view about it. All of us have our own profession and one more — a critic of the education system. Education is everyone’s interest. Understandably so.
The preliminary Malaysia Education Blueprint was released on Tuesday( September 11) and the debate is just beginning. It will go on even after the implementation. Not everyone will be pleased. In a multi-racial country like ours, the debate is beyond just education excellence, it involves the needs and demands of the various races in the country. The good thing is a debate on education is always welcomed. The bad news is, the debate will further divide us along racial lines.
Eventually education will be politicised. Nothing triggers more heated and intense debate than the one on education. True, we all agree on one principle — we need a new blueprint for education.
We need to relook at the present system for many reasons. Some would argue it needs a revamp badly, and fast, in fact a total overhaul. Others would argue we are not providing the necessary skills to equip our people for the ever-changing landscape in the Brave New World. The system has also been criticised for not being able to create a nation of patriotic and proud individuals. And worse, political pandering had weakened our system.
We must start with the problems, if at all there are any. Yes, our system is not perfect, but there is no perfect system anywhere. We must have done something right for we can’t be where we are today had we failed miserably. But improvements are badly required.
We need commitments from all involved — for we are the stakeholders — to set new standards and to achieve new results. We can start questioning the basic philosophy of our education system and move on to what we need to achieve.We need to change direction if required. But first we need to understand the new paradigm that we are operating in. But more importantly, we must always place nation-building as the key to our strategy.
At the same time we must be mindful that there are forces from within to separate, disintegrate and to destabilise us using education as the tool. We should be able to address our weaknesses head on.
Education involves a whole range of systems, methodology and people.Humans drive education. They are the catalysts. Human capital is key to education success. We can’t harp on the hardware if we don’t manage the planners, administrators and teachers.
The quality of teachers is critical. We need first class educationists and a dedicated workforce.Teachers are under pressure to ensure more students score As, thus the entire machinery is geared towards churning top scorers and high achievers, celebrating the best but marginalising the rest.
Remember, hardly five per cent of students are the cream of the crop — we forgot that the rest, too, make up human capital of the future. We all believe in investing for tomorrow. Education is about investment.Forget the noises about who is right and who isn’t, eventually it is about the destiny of this nation.
And it is about the future. You can’t blame Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing for sounding like a change messiah. He has a point. We can’t get the best if the ecosystem is not right.
The future is coming and we need to transform. The future is going to be both bizarre and unbelievable — it will transform entire industries, change the course of nations and turn individuals into super-beings. He argues for the need of change masters — one who creates innovations.
We must be part of that vision, thus we need to contribute constructively to the blueprint. Failure is not an option. Our future depends on its success. Let’s learn the lesson of the father, his son and their camel. Let us decide to do what is right, together, as one.