Education is a Game Changer for the Individual and Country


June 11, 2016

Education_600

Education is a Game Changer for the Individual and Country

by Dr. Tan Eng Bee

http://www.freemalaysia.com

Every time I read of individuals who pursue an education, regardless of whether to better their career or gain knowledge, I am captivated and inspired.

As one who believes in lifelong education, entering lecture halls for the past thirty years remains a great opportunity to better myself, not to prove I am a learned man or to add another degree to my name but rather to better myself to respond and to understand our environment and the world at large a little better. It is also for this reason that I want to offer my knowledge or expertise to teach, help, equip or counsel or to be a catalyst for growth and change in organisations, the market place or even in the counselling room.

In everyone’s mind is the conscious desire to make a difference and to be a master of our destiny but without knowledge many have crumbled physically and mentally, and in most cases, spiritually as well. Many die prematurely upon retirement as their brains no longer actively think or respond to situations. Finally, disease sets in to take their lives.

I read in a holy book that knowledge supersedes that of acquiring wealth. Without knowledge, a nation cannot progress but declines economically, while social issues regress to a point where the consequences are painful if left unchecked. I am reminded of the story of King Solomon, who was asked what he would want as a blessing from a higher being. King Solomon in his greatness in ruling a powerful nation surrounded by unfriendly neighbours, did not ask for gold or silver, but wisdom.

Any form of education is never a waste of time and energy but an investment that brings a host of opportunities. It is also a chance to serve an organisation, society and nation at large, not necessarily in monetary terms but as a form of giving back to society.

Education is a catalyst to bring change to our community, without which, we would be trapped in old schools of thought that stagnate growth and stunt progress in the long run as experienced by some nations we know.

Poverty and lost opportunities are the resulting end in many Asian, African and South American countries where education is despised or ignored and deemed unimportant while political or business agendas, bread and butter issues and having a roof over their heads are more urgent and important.

Unless there is a concerted effort politically to empower the masses with knowledge to change their status quo, the nation will suffer from a lack of knowledgeable men and women and will continue the cycle of being impoverished and ignorant thereby leaving ourselves open to be exploited and trampled upon by others.

The news of Shigemi Hirata who earned his degree at the ripe old age of 96 from Kyoto University and is considered the world oldest graduate should inspire those in their 70s, 80s and 90s to change their life destiny as well. Consider Fred Butler who at the age of 106 received his high school diploma from Beverly High School USA as their oldest graduate. How many would have even thought of going back to their books while they were in their 40s or 50s, much less while in their 100s?

Consider our own former beauty queen, Dr Soo Wincci, a singer and actress, who despite her busy commitments took time to study and received her PhD in Business Administration at the age of 31. Dr Soo changed her destiny by doing what others would rather forego at her age and with her fame. In Dr Soo’s words, the journey was long and arduous as it took her six years. To me, no venture, no gain. Nothing is worth pursuing if it does not cost you anything.

To me, education is a worthy life-changing experience for anyone who wants to better himself in any field. Education is a priceless non-commodity that is permanent and cannot be stolen.

I am happy that our government is giving free education to our children from Standard 1 right to Form 6. Those pursuing a tertiary education are entitled to the 1Malaysia Book Vouchers of RM250 each. I hope every student uses this opportunity to educate themselves and carve their futures with a diploma or degree.

In short, education is your tool to institute change and influence on society and the nation and everyone should therefore pursue it.

16 thoughts on “Education is a Game Changer for the Individual and Country

  1. Education the key to a better Malaysia

    “Education is the most powerful weapon, we can use it to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela.

    The country needs to change for the better and whoever leads the government that will be determined by the results of the coming 13th general election (GE14) must make change happen as soon as possible and not just continue with rhetoric only.

    Given the political situation in the country now, and with the “help” of the Internet, regardless of whether it is spreading nuisance or pleasantries, I do not think it is possible for any coalition of political parties, either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, or individual political parties to win by a two-thirds majority anymore.

    Those days are already gone as hinted in the last general election when a political tsunami favouring the opposition happened. In the coming GE14. I think it is more realistic to believe that it will return results such as a simple majority, split votes or even a result that will culminate in a hung Parliament and there will be individuals who contest as independents or candidates who represent smaller political parties in selected constituencies to play the role of “kingmaker” after winning their respective contests in those constituencies.

    It is therefore “smart” for all political parties to think about how to handle the many fence-sitters all over the country; their number is perhaps more than the total number of voters with set minds, who will determine the outcome of GE14.

    In order to win, I suggest, all contestants in GE14, either coalition of political parties like Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, individual political parties or independent candidates to consider the following factors very seriously:

    (Since I am discussing education here, I shall confine this discussion to education only.).

    Education may not be the “cure-all pill” to solve all diseases (problems) but it will definitely be able to solve many of the country’s existing and future problems.

    Many countries have proven that they are what they are today because of education, giving their citizens proper, high quality and the right education. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea are excellent examples.

    Education helps in national development, it is in fact a catalyst for national development, nation building, building solidarity especially in a multi-racial, multi religious country like ours; it helps in the development of our human capital to make them able to compete globally and they can also be independent and not depend on the government all the time.

    Whilst the Ministry of Education has made a policy decision to stop the use of the English language in national schools since 1982 when Bahasa Malaysia fully replaced English as the main language used, it seemed to be unsure whether to actually stop the use or to continue the use of the language. As such, from time to time flip-flop policies were introduced and implemented, confusing students and angering parents and teachers. To complicate matters and realising the lack of mastery in English among our students, from primary to university levels, several stop-gap measures were introduced and implemented by the ministry, and after spending a lot of money on them the result or outcome is still zero, zilch!

    Even as recent as two weeks ago the deputy prime minister, who is also the education minister, and his team were still evaluating programmes in Australia on the use of the English language in national schools.

    Our country’s education policy was changed in the early ‘70s and the one major change was to switch the use of the main language from English to Bahasa Malaysia. Fast forward to the 21st century, about 40 years or so later, the Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) latest report places our country’s education level at 55 out of 77 countries, i.e. in the bottom third, and in the report prepared by Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2012-13, our universities are not even listed in the top 400 in the world. If these are not the consequences of the policy change that the country has made in education, what are they then?

    Every progressive nation knows that the way to economic success and global prowess starts with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

    The perpetual discussion to increase the number of STEM students needs more than incentives offered to make it successful. Inevitably, a transformation of the science and mathematics curriculum is essential to revive interest in STEM.

    The improved teaching pedagogy must also be flexible and be able to evolve with the times. It needs to be more proactive to the fast changing world of science.

    Improvements for transformation must address the current method of learning science and teaching by rote, as this is no longer effective in this day and age. Science must be taught in a more enriching and interesting manner to keep the curiosity going.

    If we are to transform the way we do science, we must begin to transform the STEM teaching pedagogy, the continuous teacher-training programmes, and also the teachers.

    The current batch of science and mathematics teachers have the advantage in their ability to function in scientific English, making them more receptive and adaptable to learning at the same pace with the rest of the world.

    The seven years we have left to achieve Vision 2020 is a blink in time. We don’t just need a transformation but a revolution to jolt STEM education to get it up to the OECD average. This is why we need to do it in English. There are more enriching experiences and up-to-date information available and we need not spend unnecessarily.
    Countries like Serbia have opted to renew their STEM curriculum with La main à la pâte in stages in 2001 after their bad performance in the PISA test.
    This method encourages students to ask questions, experiment, make mistakes, and use their own resources to discover how and why things work.

    The latest science PISA 2015 result, although lower than the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, saw Serbia placed at 46th position, which is slightly higher than Malaysia at 55 out of 77 countries. The OECD average ranks at position 28.

    Our country, in spite of being placed lower, instead of doing something to improve the situation, just does not seem to care at all and insist on continuing to stick to a policy which has been in use for the last 30 years or so that has proven to be a failure. Many suggestions, ideas, proposals, all supported by proper studies, to improve the policy submitted by people from all walks of life, ranging from parents, students, practitioners,
    educationists, professionals, etc have all fallen on deaf ears.

    The majority of the people here recommend and support the use of more than one languages, or at least two with equal emphasis, for use in national schools but the authority concerned, and especially politicians from both sides of the divide, insist on sticking to just one, which is Bahasa Malaysia (BM), with only a token attention given to English and vernacular languages. What is so wrong in making our people bilingual?

    Subjects in the fields of science, medicine, technology, engineering, mathematics, for example, are best taught in English at the higher levels. Many local dons, scientists, doctors, engineers and mathematicians disagree and believe that they can be taught in BM but they forgot that they all mastered those subjects learning and researching them at overseas universities in the English language and I do not think they can be as good as they are if they did all that in Malay. Are there enough books and references written in BM for them to use and refer to at that level and are the people responsible to write or translate books and references in BM keeping abreast with the rapid development in the areas of study mentioned. So, why deprive the young people who are keen to study and carry out research to be as good as or even better than the best in the world from learning those subjects in English like what their seniors went through before?

    The US, with a population of 311 million people, needs 280,000 science and mathematics teachers by 2015 to ensure its global competitiveness. Malaysia, with a population of 27 million, has 400,000 teachers. On the basis of per capita population of science teachers’ equivalent to the US, we need 21,600 science and mathematics teachers or only 5 per cent of the total teacher population for our country.

    The Education Ministry should look at the syllabus and curriculum to teach and train our young to be educated and be smart. They must be taught and trained to be globally competitive as for them to get jobs or do business in a relatively small country like ours will not be easy anymore. They have no choice but to look elsewhere for jobs or do business. This makes learning in English very important and necessary.

    Many, including me, have criticised the Malaysian Education Blueprint, saying that the blueprint does not touch the basic issues and is not offering any progressive change at all.

    However, looking at the resolution prepared by Yayasan Selangor on behalf of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and comparing it the Blueprint, their six-statement resolution stated in their “Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara” is totally hopeless. While the Education Ministry in its blueprint is at least still willing to extend PPSMI until 2016 so that all students who started Form One using this policy can complete Form Five using the same policy, PKR wants to scrap PPSMI immediately and start the 2013 school year using Bahasa Malaysia, much to the chagrin of the majority of parents and students who have been, for the last three years, arguing for PPSMI to be retained or at least, increase the English language content to enhance MBMMBI.

    While it took the ministry from April 2012 starting with the countrywide National Education Dialogue involving thousands of Malaysians from all walks of life and culminating with the launching of the Blueprint on September 11, 2012 by the PM, PKR through Yayasan Selangor just took one Sunday at an event called “Konvensyen Halatuju Pendidikan Negara — Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara”.

    The convention held at Unisel, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam discussed some papers presented by some retired professors, who have mostly passed their prime, and some disgruntled teachers and a school principal from Sabah and Sarawak in an attempt to show that the whole country is involved. It was attended by some 200 participants who predominantly came from just one community and only one state, i.e. Selangor, and came out with their resolution in the evening. This only shows how little emphasis they give to education in the country. The impression many people and I get is that (PKR) is either not interested in education or their way of treating important matters is just wishy-washy, at best.

    It looks like only the DAP in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition seems to support PPSMI and the use of the English language in national schools and a senior party member told me recently that his party members will keep adding the pressure to see how they can gather consensus in the group.
    Nonetheless, I believe BN is able to change the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 overnight and to make it people friendly, progressive and effective as they already have more than 2,500 ideas, suggestions and proposals that was collected by the ministry from the three-month town hall series of the National Education Dialogue that they organised.

    BN can always direct the ministry to make the necessary change. PR has none. In drawing up a better, a more progressive and a more effective people-friendly education policy, that is the advantage BN has over PR (Pakatan Rakyat).

    Education is also able to:

    Address and cure social ills

    The social ills include corruption at all levels, Mat Rempit, snatch thefts, drug addiction, baby dumping, wife beating, single mothers, child abuse, school bullies, playing truant, vandalism, reckless drivers, road bullies, cheating, rudeness, no ethics, selfish, racism, etc.

    Create law-abiding citizens

    Education can build civic-minded citizens, a caring society, good, loyal and responsible citizens and who are able to contribute to the nation’s development, build solidarity (perpaduan) in a multi-racial and multi-religious country like ours regardless of race, language or religion and instil in our young integrity and confidence, etc.

    Touching a bit on non-educational matters, please stop this nonsense of cash handouts, shops selling cheap goods and issuing discount cards to selected groups. Doing all that isn’t the way to a high-income nation. Our currency has low purchasing power and the subsidies are not directed to the relevant groups. Change that.

    Change incapable ministers, there are many of them. There are many good, qualified and capable individuals that BN can pick and choose as candidates to contest in GE13 and they may not necessarily be members of the parties in the coalition. Scrap the AES piratisation and also stop nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, the bane of our country’s progress and move towards being a high-income nation and First World status, which also gives us a very bad image in the international scene.

    Finally, practise meritocracy to the letter.
    If BN wants to retain power, please listen to us the people and make the necessary change.

    GE 14 and education, and change

    The country needs to change for the better and whoever leads the government that will be determined by the results of the coming 13th General Election (GE 14) must make change happen as soon as possible and not just continue with rhetoric only.

    Given the political situation in the country now, and with the ‘help’ of the internet, regardless whether it is spreading nuisance or pleasantries, I do not think it is possible for any coalition of political parties, either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan or individual political parties to win by a two thirds majority anymore. Those days are already gone as hinted in the last General Election when a political tsunami favouring the opposition happened. In the coming 14th General Election (GE 14), I think, it is more realistic to believe that it will return results such as a simple majority, split votes or even a result that will culminate in a hung parliament and there will be individuals who contest as Independents or candidates who represent smaller political parties in selected constituencies to play the role of ‘kingmaker’ after winning their respective contests in those constituencies. It is therefore ‘smart’ for all political parties to think about how to handle the many fence-sitters all over the country, their number is perhaps more than the total number of voters with set minds, who will determine the outcome of GE 14.

    In order to win, I suggest, all contestants in the coming GE 13, either coalition of political parties like Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, individual political parties or independent candidates to consider the following factors very seriously:

    (Since I am discussing education here, I shall confine this discussion to education only).

    Education – this is not the ‘cure-all pill’ to solve all problems but it is definitely able to solve many of the country’s existing and future problems.

    Many countries have proven that they are what they are today because of education, giving their citizens proper, high quality and the right education. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea are excellent examples.

    Education helps in national development, it is in fact a catalyst for national development, nation building, building solidarity especially in a multi-racial, multi religious country like ours; it helps in the development of our human capital to make them able to compete globally and they can also be independent and not depend on the government all the time.

    Whilst the Ministry of Education has made a policy decision to stop the use of English language in national schools since 1982 when Bahasa Malaysia fully replaced English as the main language used, they themselves seem to be unsure whether to actually stop the use or to continue the use of the language. As such, from time to time, flip flop policies were introduced and implemented, confusing students and angering parents and teachers. To complicate matters and realising that the lack of mastery in English among our students, from primary to university levels, several stop-gap measures were introduced and implemented by the ministry and spending a lot of money on them and the results or outcome are still zero, zilch!

    Even as recent as two weeks ago the Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Education Minister and his team were still evaluating programmes in Australia on the use of English language for use in national schools.

    Our country’s education policy was changed in the early 70s and the one major change was to switch the use of the main language from English to Bahasa Malaysia. Fast forward to the 21st century, about 40 years or so later, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) latest report place our country’s education level at 55 out of 77 countries, i.e. in the bottom third and in the report prepared by Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2012 – 13, our universities are not even listed in the top 400 in the world. If these are not the consequences of the policy change that the country has made in education, what are they then?

    EVERY progressive nation knows that the way to economic success and global prowess starts with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

    The perpetual discussion to increase the number of STEM students’ needs more than incentives offered to make it successful. Inevitably, a transformation of the Science and Mathematics curriculum is essential to revive interest in STEM.

    The improved teaching pedagogy must also be flexible and be able to evolve with the times. It needs to be more proactive to the fast changing world of science.

    Improvements for transformation must address the current method of learning science and teaching by rote, as this is no longer effective in this day and age. Science must be taught in a more enriching and interesting manner to keep the curiosity going.

    If we are to transform the way we do Science, we must begin to transform the STEM teaching pedagogy, the continuous teacher training programmes, and also the teachers.

    The current batch of Science and Mathematics teachers have the advantage in their ability to function in scientific English, making them more receptive and adaptable to learning at the same pace with the rest of the world.

    The seven years we have left to achieve Vision 2020 is a blink in time. We don’t just need a transformation but a revolution to jolt STEM education to get it up to the OECD average. This is why we need to do it in English. There are more enriching experiences and up-to-date information available and we need not spend unnecessarily.

    Countries like Serbia have opted to renew their STEM curriculum with La main à la pâte in stages in 2001 after their bad performance in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test.

    This method encourages students to ask questions, experiment, make mistakes, and use their own resources to discover how and why things work.

    The latest Science PISA 2015 result, although lower than the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, saw Serbia placed at 46th position, which is slightly higher than Malaysia at 55 out of 77 countries. The OECD average ranks at position 28.

    Our country, in spite of being placed lower, instead of doing something to improve the situation, just does not seem to care at all and insist on continuing to stick to a policy which has been in use for the last thirty years or so that has proven to be a failure. Many suggestions, ideas, proposals, all supported by proper studies, to improve the policy submitted by people from all walks of life, ranging from parents, students, practitioners, educationists, professionals, etc. have all fallen on deaf ears.

    The majority of the people here recommend and support the use of more than one languages, or at least two with equal emphasis, for use in national schools but the authority concerned, and especially politicians from both divides, insist on sticking to just one which is Bahasa Malaysia (BM) with only a token attention given to English and vernacular languages. What is so wrong in making our people bilingual?

    Subjects in the fields of science, medicine, technology, engineering, mathematics, for example, are best taught in English at the higher levels. Many local dons, scientists, doctors, engineers and mathematicians disagree and believe that they can be taught in BM but they forgot that they all mastered those subjects learning and researching them at overseas universities in the English language and I do not think they can be as good as they are if they did all that in Malay. Are there enough books and references written in BM for them to use and refer to at that level and are the people responsible to write or translate books and references in BM keeping abreast with the rapid development in the areas of study mentioned. So, why deprive the young people who are keen to study and carry out research to be as good as or even better than the best in the world from learning those subjects in English like what their seniors went through before?

    The USA, with a population of more than 350 million people, needs 320,000 Science and Mathematics teachers by 2017 to ensure its global competitiveness. Malaysia, with a population of 30 million, has 450,000 teachers. On the basis of per capita population of Science teachers’ equivalent to the US, we need 30,600 Science and Mathematics teachers or only 5% of the total teacher population for our country.

    The Education Ministry (Malaysia) should look at syllabus and curriculum to teach and train our young to be educated and be smart. They must be taught and trained to be globally competitive as for them to get jobs or doing business in a relatively small country like ours, will not be easy anymore. They have no choice but to look elsewhere for jobs or doing business.

    Many, including me, have criticised the Malaysian Education Blueprint saying that the blueprint does not touch the basic issues and is not offering any progressive change at all.

    However, looking at the resolution prepared by Yayasan Selangor on behalf of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and comparing it with the Blueprint, their 6-statement resolution stated in their ‘Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara’* is totally hopeless. While MOE in its blueprint is at least still willing to extend PPSMI until 2016 so that all students who started Form One using this policy can complete Form Five using the same policy, PKR wants to scrapped PPSMI immediately and start the 2013 school year using Bahasa Malaysia which is very much to the chagrin of the majority of parents and students who have been, for the last three years, arguing for DLP to be
    implemsntedvand carried out effecfively and increase the English language contents in the national school syllabus.

    While it took MOE from April this year starting with the countrywide National Education Dialogue culminating with the launching of the Blueprint on September 11th this year by the PM involving thousands of Malaysians from all walks of life, PKR through Yayasan Selangor just took one Sunday at an event called, ‘Konvensyen Halatuju Pendidikan Negara -Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara’ .

    The convention held at UNISEL, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam discussed some papers presented by some retired professors who have mostly passed their prime and some disgruntled teachers and a school principal from Sabah and Sarawak, in an attempt to show that the whole country is involved, attended by some 200 participants who predominantly came from just one community and only one state, i.e. Selangor, and came out with their resolution in the evening. This only shows how little emphasis they give to education in the country. The impression many people and I get is that (PKR) is either not interested in education or their way of treating important matters is just wishy-washy, at best.

    Enquiries sent to key members of the remaining Pakatan Rakyat coalition party to confirm their stands on education did not receive any response at all.

    I believe BN is able to change the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025 overnight and to make it people friendly and progressive as they already have more than 2,500 ideas, suggestions and proposals that was collected by MOE from the Townhall series of the National Education Dialogue that they organised. BN can always direct MOE to make the necessary change. PR has none. That is the advantage BN has over PR (Pakatan Rakyat).

    Education is also able to solve the following problems and also create:

    Address and cure social ills – provide viable solutions for them who are guilty. Addressing all social ills can start with stamping corruption at all levels. Other social ills include: mat rempit, snatch thefts, drugs addiction, baby dumping, wife beating, single mothers, child abuse, school bullies, playing truant, vandalism, reckless drivers, road bullies, cheating, rudeness, no ethics, selfish, racism, etc.

    2. Create law abiding citizens, civic-minded citizens, a caring society, good, loyal and responsible citizens and who are able to contribute to the nation’s development, build solidarity (perpaduan) in a multi-racial and multi-religious country like ours regardless of race, language or religion and instill in our young integrity and confidence, etc.

    And address the common problems that we always see and face as follows:

    1. Infrastructure – Roads, bridges, public amenities, public transportation, solve traffic and flash flood problems that has now become a daily occurrence.
    2. Improve our economy – create wealth and carry out more and better physical development throughout the country, etc.
    3. Improve public housing needs.
    4. Care for the environment – reduce carbon footprints.
    5. Institute effective flood mitigation plans and programmed.
    6. Institute effective maintenance, repair and upgrading p RR ogrammes for government buildings, facilities and infrastructure.

    Also, touching a bit on non-educational matters, sorry, please stop this nonsense of giving cash handouts, shops selling cheap goods and issuing discount cards to selected groups. Doing all that isn’t the way to a high income nation. Our currency has low purchasing power and the subsidies are not directed to the relevant groups. Change that.

    Change incapable ministers, there are many of them. There are many good, qualified and capable individuals that BN can pick and choose as their candidates to contest at GE 14 and they may not necessary be members of the parties in their coalition.

    Scrap all ‘preferred contractors’ and appoint contractors based on open tender of prequalified contractors and also stop nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, the bane of our country’s progress and move towards being a high income nation and 1st World status which also gives us a very bad image in the international scene.

    Finally, practise meritocracy to the letter.

    If BN wants to retain power, please listen to us, the people, and make the necessary change.

    HUSSAINI ABDUL KARIM, Shah Alam

  2. It is not just about education in general the one that is being practised in Malaysia where the student is fed with government propaganda, Bahasa Malaysia, Ugama, Islamic Studies, civic and the likes on top of your specialization.
    Students should be taught critical thinking, sociology, philosophy, political systems, history (not about dates and happenings but the reason behind the event) and geography (geo politics)
    In Malaysia students get a degree and know their subject well but they can’t think for themselves. They can’t challenge a thought put forward either by their professor or employer. They can’t think about social progress in relations to nation development. They are all prepped up for the job market either in civil service or private sector becoming a salaryman.
    Thus the education program in Malaysia needs to be overhauled. Education in Malaysia needs to develop the thinking person, the inventive person, the graduate that is willing to push the envelope, question policies and law and find develop new ideas on how to move Malaysia forward. Not the UMNOb way of enriching themselves and their cronies but one that will ensure social justice, elimination of poverty, raising living standards (not just living cost) equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities for all citizens and not for a select few.

  3. hak55,

    Thanks hak55 for that record-breaking post both in length and breath of content.

    There is nothing much there that one can disagree with, and obviously you are very passionate about what is and more importantly what is not happening in the country so far as education of the young is concerned.

    It is of course a no-brainer that education of whatever quality has an impact on the individual and the country at large. Throughout human history what exactly is “education” has been defined and will be defined by the socio-political circumstances of any particular society in any particular point in time a society finds itself.

    If we just confine our discussions to Malaysia in the 20th / 21st Century, (otherwise we all will have to write theses), can we say our national, (as opposed to “private”), educational system has been a failure or at least what it should not be as what we hear both at learned forums and the streets?

    If you ask our education minister(s), past and present, we all know what they will say. After all the economy, pre-Najib, has been credible, (and more so sans 1MDB), if not sterling, so our national educational system couldn’t be that bad, or at least not as bad as we all make it out to be?

    And herein lies the paradox. I really don’t know why.

    Perhaps it’s because of the booming private institutes where English is the main medium of instruction and thus qualitatively balance up the Malay medium national type schools. Or may be the real intellectual, business leaders in and out of government is actually a very small number, (say 20%), who were educated overseas that help camouflage the inefficiency and downright incompetence of the 80%? Or may be we have against all odds maintained sufficient social cohesiveness and political stability such that the constant flow of direct foreign investments create enough economic buoyancy to off-set the dismal quality of the national educational system?

    Let me give 2 examples to show that whatever economic successes the country had and will have, (if such is the case), it is certainly not due to the high quality of our present national educational system.

    Example 1. Way back in the 1970s a classmate of mine had to teach how to calculate percentages to 1st year University Malaya students. Fine examples of “GIGO” and when this lecturer gave low marks to these students the Dean asked why.

    Example 2. A very senior Malay CEO of a GLC was instructed on his first day at work to hire only Bumiputra executives for all posts. He said no problem and promptly instructed his personnel department to only interview Bumiputra graduates from overseas universities.

    Lastly we hear a lot about how the private sector, particularly Malaysian Chinese owned firms, discriminate against Bumiputra job applicants in favor of Chinese applicants. This is absolutely true. Why?

    Presently, most Chinese job applicants come armed with proficiency in 2 languages, Bahasa and English, and a good number in Mandarin as well. Most Malay applicants, tertiary or not, come with proficiency in Bahasa and poor working standard of English. And among the Chinese applicants, (up-grading their English proficiency by their own efforts), they still need to compete further against other Chinese applicants with good grades in the technical subject matching the job description.

    Whether in education or anything else in life, there is just no substitute for self-motivated hard work and sacrifice, regardless of how good or bad the schools are or perceived to be.

  4. “This is absolutely true. Why?”

    I don’t buy your rationale from the discrimination against the Malays but ok, how then do you describe the discrimination against the Indians ?

  5. Wayne, thank you for the compliment.

    The government of Malaysia, not just the Ministry of Education, knew and still know ALL the pitfalls and EVERY DAMN THING that they need to do to improve the situation, but due to politics and other issues, all not directly related to education, they simply REFUSE to change the system.

    Actually, there is no need for anyone or any organisation or any associatioon or any consultant (local or foreign) to send any suggestion to them given that they already know everything that they need to do. Even the ministry do not have to conduct very costly regular courses or training programmes for teachers to prove the situation. If they still do those things, they will be doing them only for one reason, i.e. to fill up cronies’pockets, that’s all!

    For rich Malaysians, that won’t be a problem for them at all but for the majority, mostly Malays, who cannot afford to pay for better education, they will continue to suffer and the country too, as a whole, will suffer along with them.

  6. Education is indeed the tipping point,a threshold moment, for the country and for humanity. It is empowermentof the people and the nation . it is modern age information technology that would determine the destiny of the country and individual. Education once acquired is something no one, nothing can take away from you.

    On the flip side it can be made into chronic enslavement of the corrupt, incompetent ,power-crazy, self-$erving regime(Umno Baru) producing unemployable graduates when education is not proficiently implemented.

    But choosing the right political regime is the key game changer,ultimately.

  7. No one can take away what is in your mind. That was what I was told by my teachers until I met my employer who through the confidential reporting system, which cannot be questioned,marked me down and let others pass me. Thank you boss for that lesson.

  8. /// hak55 June 12, 2016 at 3:07 am
    Many countries have proven that they are what they are today because of education, giving their citizens proper, high quality and the right education. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea are excellent examples. ///

    You conspicuously left out Singapore. If you notice, these are what I have labelled the “chopstick-wielding” countries. I am still trying to figure out where these countries stand out in educational achievements, as seen by their PISA scores – they are consistently ranked right at the top.

    Could it be, in the past, these countries where devastated by famine, floods, ravaged by war-lords and all kinds of calamities; where the people do not know where the next meal is going to come from? Where education is seen as the ticket to a better life.

    All these countries’ languages are based on Mandarin and its derivatives – Kanji and Hanja. Pure speculation on my part here – but could the pictorial style of their written languages provide them with better spatial awareness and mental abilities?
    The average IQ of these chopstick countries are again ranked among the very top in the world.

  9. Kllau is right when he says “choosing the right political regime is the key game changer”.

    But, which political regime? Hak55 seems to think that BN is still the only hope – due to PKR’s wishy-washy education policy.

    So, what we unfortunate Malaysians have is Hobson’s choice – BN or a non-Opposition coalition.

    My solution is for DAP, PKR and PSM to form a new single party with a brand new constitution. Amanah can be a coalition partner. Now, for the first time, we can really have an effective Opposition to BN.

    In the new Constitution, DAP must drop its promotion of mother tongue languages. This doctrine is already in the Malaysian Constitution and does not have to be repeated in this New party. This is to get rid of its Chinese image.

    The new Constitution (and manifesto) must include the promotion of English medium schools, with BM (compulsory) and mother tongue languages (non-compulsory) be made available for all.

    So Hak55, can or not?

  10. I don’t understand the insistence on the removal of mother tongue education. It has everything to do with the quality of the education. If the education quality is good, parents will send their kids back in droves even if they offer Swahili mother tongue.

  11. it there is one education that this nation needs to run, is the understanding of one ideal the world inherited from Voltaire.
    ” If one religion were allowed in England, the government would very possibly become arbitary, if there were two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace’ – Voltaire.

    It does not seem to be working .. what education can teach us?
    Our Asian values only picked up pedigrees, but education..

  12. since we generally has been rather conservative, at least we get to learn to put in the sublime back into our daily life?

    burke: on the sublime.

  13. The,

    Exception to chopstick countries, Indian Institutes of Technology, IITs are doing not too badly. They may not ranked high but its graduates are highly sought after especially in US top universities and firms.

  14. Bukit Sentosa, there is nothing in my proposal to remove mother tongue languages.

    On the contrary, my proposal is for these new English medium schools to have Mandarin and Tamil made available as third language subjects.

    This proposal is merely going back to the schools where we (Din and the commentators here) all came from. We mixed, learnt and grew up together in these English medium schools. And, the end result is that we can all talk and debate sensibly, as exemplified here by Din’s blog.

    In fact, as in the old days, let these English schools compete with the vernacular schools. I’m sure I know where most parents would want to send their kids.

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