LETTER | Education needs an urgent overhaul

Yow Lop Siaw


LETTER | I have on many occasions written on how much our education has deteriorated, but so far, there has been no visible effort to arrest this alarming decline.

Many others have also expressed similar sentiments. This may be attributed to a few possible reasons.

One such reason could be those in power do not believe that this is the actual scenario. If this is what is believed, then the trajectory will continue along this declining path, resulting in irreversible damage to the country in the long run.

A comparative study of the education model of a few Asean countries is sufficient evidence of this sad state of affairs. This denial syndrome is the worst enemy of progress.

The main driving force propelling a country’s progress is human capital. Without sound education, the sub-standard human capital would present a limiting factor towards whatever initiatives that are needed to advance and compete with the rest of the world.

Education is undeniably the very soul of a country and fooling around with it is simply destroying the future of generations to come. The Malaysian education system is heading towards this direction and if immediate steps are not taken to arrest this decline, the final outcome is obvious.

To realign the system requires a complete overhaul – curriculum, content, quality of teaching staff, operations and the system structure and the whole concept and philosophy of education.

We need future generations who are well-schooled in every sense so that they are well prepared to launch themselves into the job market with confidence and relevance.

We need future generations who are not only highly qualified in terms of certificates and degrees but meaningfully educated to think critically, to analyse, and to make wise decisions in every situation and setting.

We need to nurture leaders who are sufficiently able and adequately trained to continue to lead the country into the future.

In order to achieve these goals, the curriculum must emphasise on fundamental concepts which students could fall back on without qualms and nervousness.

A good look through the approved textbooks will enable us to know what the Education Ministry has prescribed to Malaysian students.

Science and Mathematics are very good examples. The glaring differences are unbelievably obvious if we compare the contents of these books with those being used in International schools, or for that matter, the Chinese schools.

This difference in content and quality is even more obvious if we are daring enough to take a look at what Singaporean students are studying, level for level.

A Primary 5 Singaporean student’s Mathematics is equivalent or of a higher level than what a Form One Malaysian student is studying.

Comparing textbooks will tell what others and we are doing. There has been a significant dilution of content over the last few years.

The next big issue is lesson delivery. We used to base our teaching on this simple premise, that is, “If I don’t teach well, I feel guilty as my inadequacy will ruin the students’ future”.

In other words, we just wanted to do justice to the trust and responsibility entrusted to us. At the end of the day, we hold our heads high for having fulfilled our professional obligation with any guilt or qualms.

How many teachers these days are able to have no guilt at all? Sub-standard teaching is common, and teachers’ absenteeism from class is rampant.

The closure of schools due to the movement control order (MCO) and the conditional MCO currently has been further taken advantage of by many teachers. Using poor quality connectivity as a “valid” reason, many students are not having online lessons at all.

I strongly urge the MOE officials to go right down to the ground level and whip things to shape. Don’t simply depend on reports for obvious reasons.

The whole system needs an overhaul. Doing patchwork correction will not be sufficient as all are inter-related and all systems (departments) must be in sync.

It is my sincere wish and hope that the MOE take immediate steps to save our education system.

We inherited a sound (though not perfect) system from our colonial masters and we were supposed to gradually fine-tune and enhance it to suit our national needs and aspirations over time, but instead, we screwed it up to suit our political agenda.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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