The Consumer Association of Penang welcomes the appointment of Dr Maszlee Malik as the Minister of Education.
He is well qualified for the post given his grounding in governance, Islamic studies, teaching experience and involvement with civil society organisations. Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made the right choice and criticism of the appointment by certain individuals has no rational basis.
Maszlee should be able to place our educational system on an ethical and moral foundation so that our schools and universities produce good ethical and moral citizens and not smart, crooked experts, clever at manipulating the system to satisfy their greed.
The recent Vatican statement – “Consideration for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System” – has warned policymakers that among the principal reasons for the recent economic crisis was the “immoral behavior of the experts in the financial world”.
Erosion of moral and ethical values is the root cause of corruption, abuse of power, injustice and environmental destruction. It needs to be addressed through the education we provide our children, from preschool to university.
The object of education is to produce good human beings with a holistic approach and skills rooted in ethics. On the aim of education, our world-renowned scholar Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas wrote: “Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of Man through the training of Man’s spirit, intellect, rational self, feelings and bodily senses.” Our educational system must be geared towards achieving this aim.
We appreciate Maszlee’s pledge to reduce the workload of teachers and students in schools and the size of classes. Students must enjoy schooling, forming relationships with other students and being involved in cooperative activities. Memorising facts and regurgitating them during examinations is the sure way to kill creativity. Students should be taught critical and creative thinking at the earliest level.
With class sizes ranging from 30 to 40 students, it is difficult for teachers to give individual attention, especially to the slow learners. Also, teachers are overburdened with administrative tasks at the cost of their teaching duties. There is also a need to evaluate the training of teachers to see if we are producing teachers with good skills and the right temperament.
We wish Maszlee success in his efforts to reform our educational system and he can be assured of our critical support.
SM Mohamed Idris is president of the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).