Knowledge is power?

Perhaps, what is taught in our schools today is not holistic enough to produce more well-rounded and knowledgeable citizens

pic by BERNAMA

THERE is this very disturbing video that’s making its round recently. No, it is not lewd or indecent by any standard.

It is simply disturbing because it shows quite a number of young Malaysians who do not seem to have that much idea about their own country.

Each of them is given the same task. All they have to do is name five state capitals in the country.

Some of them are also asked several other general questions that could easily be answered if they care to know more about their own country.

Most of the “test subjects” are in their 20s, and they look educated enough to pass the test with flying colours.

Alas, of the number of “participants”, only one could get almost every question right (with hints and clues given by the interviewer).

Some struggle to name Johor Baru as Johor’s state capital, while quite a number do not know that Seremban is the state capital of Negri Sembilan (Kuala Pilah is one of the answers).

Many are also confused about the exact location of Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru, as some struggle to name the state capital of Selangor.

One of the subjects is asked if she knows where Legoland is and her answer is “Cameron Highlands”.

“I am from Sabah,” is her only explanation for not getting any question right.

The more disturbing fact is, almost every test subject does not seem to show any sign of embarrassment about not getting anything right!

They would either giggle or just give that “do-I-really-need-to-know-this” look.

To think that we laugh at earlier videos that show how ignorant Americans are about their own country. It is kind of like when Christina Aguilera forgot the words to the Star-Spangled Banner some time back.

You might have seen an episode of Jimmy Kimmel live which tested Americans on the street to see if they could recognise the map of their country.

Watching the Americans struggle with their own country’s geography is certainly hilarious. But our own people not knowing where Melaka is? Now, that’s not funny at all!

Sure, all of us have more pressing matters to attend to. Covid-19 continues to be a trending topic as the number of cases keeps increasing globally by the day.

Yes, some people are struggling with the fact that they might have to ditch the toilet rolls and start using soap and water to keep themselves clean and sanitised.

And yes, new ministers had just been appointed, while a fresh direction of the country is still being worked out (again).

Now, perhaps it is time (again) to remind the new education minister that the country’s education system needs an overhaul (again).

Perhaps, what is taught in our schools today is not holistic enough to produce more well-rounded and knowledgeable citizens who won’t embarrass the country when they have to face the real world.

We need more Malaysians with solid answers to any question that is posed to them, instead of the nonchalant “I don’t know”, “I am not sure” or “I can’t recall”.

We are in dire need of Malaysians who can be efficient cashiers who do not rely on the calculator to tally a customer’s total bill.

Now that we have a newly minted Ministry of National Unity, perhaps more inter-cultural programmes could be initiated to promote a better understanding of the country’s diversity.

Honestly, it is rather tiring to explain to the younger crowd what Thaipusam is all about and why it is different from Pongal.

It is also getting cumbersome to explain to the uninitiated the difference between Maal Hijrah and Maulidur Rasul.

For once, get more people to understand that not all Chinese are Buddhist, and not all Indians celebrate Deepavali.

Some people should also be reminded that Gawai is celebrated in Sarawak and Pesta Kaamatan is the main celebration in Sabah.

Seriously, while some of us might view all these little things as minute and inconsequential, think about how outsiders would rate us in the years to come if we could not give them any exact answer to their queries.

Knowledge is power, and at the rate we are going, future Malaysians might not have that much to brag about…

Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor of The Malaysian Reserve.