Thursday, December 04, 2008

How to fix Malaysian education, Part 1

TO: THOSE CONCERN WITH EDUCATION


Here is an early thought on Malaysian education.

Of late we hear the concern for the teaching of Maths and Science, closing down of vernacular schools, and on the quality of education. The issue is access to success. The vision is to collaborate and not to compete, and to bring in cultural perspectives into teaching so that each child may learn, learn well, learn meaningfully, and be able to live a good life as good, ethical, thinking and world-wise citizens.

It is in the realm of thought, language, education system, teaching strategies, nature of human intelligence, and how these relate to the economic condition that is central to our approach to designing an equitable and just principle and practice of education. We need to teach the nation how to celebrate the beauty of all languages and draw out their peaceful and ethical dimensions and not to politicize them at the expense of the advancement of human intelligence.

The issue is the commitment to explore new dimension in teaching using Concept mastery and Constructivist principles as foundations, and approach "Ethno-Maths and Science" meaningfully.

If we stop politicizing education, stop dumbing down our students, teachers, and schools and start giving them the time to explore the concepts, skills, and motivation to succeed in their respective fields using high standards, we'll have a great society and nation. I once wrote a piece on "education in the yellow states" as somewhat of a tribute to the shape of things to come when a new regime "that understands education" comes into power.

Japan and Korea have consistently been tops in the International Maths and Science Study. But then again, there is a difference between being at the top based on standardized score alone and being top in making the students understand the subject matter through "process and not merely product approach". Herein lies "process-based" approach to teaching. A lot of times, we trumpet "top scores" (how many As students can bag in SPM, UPSR, or in any State tests, etc.). Of course if we "teach students to the test" and have a billion-Ringgit tuition industry to support rote-memorization learning, we'll be happy to showcase the achievement of "this or that" race.

Consider how much time is wasted in class --- due to teachers missing in action, absent without official leave, attending weeks-long course without replacement, politicians visiting schools and disrupting learning, poor accountability of student attendance, poor teaching skills, poor teacher motivation, way-too-large classes, etc. All these need to be addressed and corrected -- fast. We are losing a generation of the best and the brightest Malaysian of the millennial generation. We still have not talked about the issue of equity and equality in education -- access to success.

So, what will we be good at as a nation? Worse, how many children of all races are going to end up as "strangers" in society reproduced as drop-outs because they failed in schools -- not because of their own doing but because the school system has perfected the art and science of failing them. This has to radically change. I repeat -- radically changed, including in the realm of leadership. After 50 years, we should have had an educational system that is a model of multiculturalism, higher standards, and evolving vision of success for other nations to study. We should have been a "premier" nation and achieved "world-class" standard we hear being trumpeted so often.

Education however, is about hope, as the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire once said. We need to capture the essence of those "glory days way back then..." and recast the vision and work seriously in putting it back to practice and making the lives of our children in schools happier and more challenging intellectually. We will continue to be in this "long haul" situation, but there are macro- and micro strategies for success. Any child's mind is a terrible thing to waste and this notion has kept me passionate about my calling.

13 comments:

koolgeek said...

how do we do that when kids are to grow up realizing that it's skin color that matters in every direction they look?

Anonymous said...

Weldone Dr. I agreed with the motion of our education system. Let us look at the teachers preparation program. This is vital to study as they are responsible to the education of our future generation. Anyone care? If so how much?

Anonymous said...

When teaching become a business without passion... then we will see only straight A's not straight citizens.....
Our younger generation miss the teacher;s who cook for dem once in a while...who take care of them like thier own child in school... who plays with'em.... these children are only exposed to tutors, piles of books

justice4sarawakian said...

nowadays, teaching is a profession merely to fulfill the teachers' quest for good life and wealth, not so much of a passion to develop the kids' intelligence.

Jarod said...

koolgeek,

It also happen in University. What a shame when I go for lecture, the lecturer isolate us by stating you are from MCA, you UMNO, you MIC. :(

Passion is no longer among teachers. Majority of them just want to have a stable income. That is why they choose to be in education field. That kill most of the students creativity as well as the initiative to learn. The students lost their motivation to studies because the teacher do not care much.

How can we have a better future for our students?

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for the selfless and tireless efforts of my mission school teachers. They taught me to learn, not just to pass exams -life long learning which I will always pursue. I am still learning.

Anonymous said...

A truly worthwhile education system would progressively identify the superior individuals by eliminating at each stage after the very first the innately inferior. This rigorous discrimination would prevent the advancement of persons beyond the status for which they were fitted by nature.

Wintermute

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your ideas but my feeling is that it may be too late. The present decision makers/implementers are the products of the dumb it down/lower the bar policy and they probably cannot think outside the box

Anonymous said...

Kita harus tengok sistem pendidikan guru di Malaysia. Sebagaimana Dr Azly mengecam penyelidikan di UPSI sebagai "spurious", pendidikan perguruan di UPSI juga adalah "dubious"! Ini adalah kerana, guru-guru pelatih di UPSI diajar dan dibimbing oleh ramai pensyarah yang tiada kelayakan ikhtisas (misalnya, sijil perguruan, diploma pendidikan, sarjana muda pendidikan), apatah lagi pengalaman mengajar di sekolah. Cuba bayangkan kalau seseorang doktor pelatih yang menjalani latihan di hospital diselia oleh seorang yang bergelar "doktor" tetapi merupakan doktor falsafah dan bukannya doktor perubatan. Inilah keadaan yang berlaku di UPSI! Cuba semak kelayakan pensyarah-pensyarah mereka. Saya terkejut apabila pensyarah-pensyarah UPSI datang ke sekolah saya untuk menyelia guru-guru pelatih. Kalau saya seorang pengetua, saya tidak akan membenarkan mereka masuk kalau TIADA KELAYAKAN IKHTISAS. Yalah, mereka bergelar "Dr" (PhD), muda dan bergaji lebih tinggi dari pengetua sekolah, tetapi dari segi pendidikan, mereka masih banyak yang perlu belajar. Kalau datang ke sekolah, Kementerian Pelajaran tidak dapat melantik mereka ke dalam DG41 pun kerana tiada kelayakan ikhtisas. Sungguh sedih sistem pendidikan guru negara kita, dan universiti inilah yang asyik memprosmosikan research mereka yang "dubious" & "spurious" untuk KPM membuat polisi pendidikan negara.

Anonymous said...

Dear Azly,

I'm of the opinion that the real reason the UMNO-BN regime has chosen to digress back to Science and Maths in BM is because it serves as a double-edged sword.

The first and perhaps the main reason is, for a dated racial political party to continue surviving, they have to continue to retard the very people they claim to be fighting for so that the people will continue to stay completely dependent on them and will continue to vote for them because they need them. Unfortunately the people from the heartlands of Malaysia do not realize that the only thing that the corrupted BN government has done is stolen from their pockets to enrich a few racist elitist and worst, stolen knowledge from them so that their children will never have the keys to the world arena.

Now, the second reason? ... There's none!

Anonymous said...

Siapa yang mempropagandakan ini:
"Hi orang kampung, janganlah belajar English. Kan susah? belajar aje bahasa Melayu. Kan dah cukup?"

Anonymous said...

for those who condemn the teachers, why not you try being a teacher for a year. lets see what happens to you. armchair critics !

whatsaysyou said...

Great post, Azly. Yes I agree that the Malaysian education can be fixed and I believe English-medium schools should be set up for Malaysians whose English is their mother tongue. Secondly, PPSMI needs to stay to allow Malaysian children to have the global edge which their older siblings have been deprived earlier.

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