Malaysiakini Opinion

Where is our GPS for education?

Azly Rahman  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Education, that gentle profession, that conveyer belt of social reproduction, that process called schooling, and that idea of “educare” (from the Latin) or to draw out human potentials is again, a main topic of concern for us Malaysians these days. A very serious journey, often treacherous, requiring good stewardship.

Where is our global positioning system? Where are we heading? What is our reading of the global sustainable development goals and how do we use that understanding to plan for mega-structural changes?

What areas must we focus on in order to see these five years as ones we make drastic changes to renew prosperity in education - beyond this current political-economic malaise, World Bank report, at times disheartening results of PISA or TIMSS surveys, fragmented and divisive schooling, pursuit of trivialities in maiden-steps of reform, and endless ethnic and religious politicisation further threatening the hope for national reconciliation (if not “unity”)?

What would be the nature of systemic change and renewed philosophical orientation we need, in order to capture the nobility of multiculturalism/pluralism as the best way to include all Malaysian citizens in this gentle journey called “education’?

How do we bring back learning into the classroom and put the child back in the centre of attention so that we may again see human self-flowering and flourishing?

I have addressed these issues in the past through the seven volumes of writing published over the last five years. My passion for translatable concepts in education, critical consciousness, and “cultural action for freedom” (borrowing the Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire’s words) has made me become worried if we are indeed seeing Malaysian educational leaders asking the right questions, let alone attempt to focus on systemic, structural changes that would bring the desired measurable sense of equity, equality, and equal opportunity to our children, regardless of race, religion, color, creed.

I wrote an open letter to Malaysia’s future education minister the week the new government assumed power. I wasn’t sure if the opinions were what leaders and policy makers were interested in paying attention to...

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