Malaysian education: Formulating a new recipe

Pic By TMR FilE

YES, there are many successful models of education being developed by other countries. Japan has its own success stories. So does Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and all the Nordic countries.

But that does not mean for Malaysia to reinvent the wheel on education it has to adopt one of those models.

This is the opportune time to formulate a new recipe, at the time our educational system is in complete limbo.

So much damage has been inflicted and it is about time the entire system be overhauled. Or else, the national education will be a nuisance to nation-building and national prosperity.

Nevertheless, we can take into consideration all those successful models to formulate our very own and unique educational system. Ours has to be completely different from all those models, simply because the ingredients we have are different in nature.

First and foremost, an essential ingredient is our political system. Under the present political climate, regardless of which party governs the nation, the general composition of the ruling coalition party shall remain the same, and they are composite in nature.

Even if Barisan Nasional were to win back the government, and Umno is the majority, its voice is still as weak as the minority Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in Pakatan Harapan. That is how unique the politics in Malaysia is and yet they are regarded as the sole determinant in shaping the future of our education.

The political institutions are the ones that abuse the most the national unity agenda in the search for political popularity for themselves. Hence, the only window left to repair these damages is via education.

Sadly to say, too little opportunity is being created for nation-building by the educational system, just because the hands that damage national unity are the same hands that control the education agenda, the politicians.

Assuming that they are willing to compromise for the sake of our future generation, the education system has a tall order to squeeze into the already packed education curriculum, the formal subjects or courses on nation-building. No choice, but they have to find the best way out.

But that is not the end of the problem. The set of characters of students enrolling into various types of schooling system are as diverse as their racial or religious polarisation already in existence.

Most parents, especially among the B40 (Bottom 40) community, are so weak and poor in their parenting skills and culture. As such, they expect the school is the one that will shape and discipline their children.

Again, this factor is another burden to the schooling system. This is a complete contrast to the parenting culture of parents of those developed nations being quoted.

In their case, the children go to school with a set of mind and character fully prepared by their parents.

Indeed, in the Malaysian education system, this is another high expectation that burdens the educational system. What a pity.

Only when this burden, the character building, is resolved then only can we expect the teachers to have the time and energy to teach, guide, groom and impart knowledge to the students, the knowledge- building process.

But at the higher level of education, especially at the tertiary and post-education stages, education and training are not just a process of completing the learning curve.

The icing on the cake of the process is the talent building. Here are the challenges to those who run the technical and vocational centres, as well as the other tertiary and post educational institutions.

Their challenges are to create, develop and groom talents. It is simply because the survival of the fittest in the future are those who are equipped with talents, including talent in acquiring and managing the technology.

Hence, the real and practical challenges in formulating our very own education recipe is to blend these four main ingredients to be in one menu, namely the nation-building, character building, knowledge building and finally, talent building.

The rest of the issues such as the crisis on Bahasa Malaysia versus Bahasa Inggeris, the introduction of several more second languages, Jawi writing, etc are the spices that will make the recipe more tasty.


Datuk Dr Hasan Mad is the Secretary General of Majlis Perundingan Melayu. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.