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The real state of education in Malaysia

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The time has come for Malaysians to take stock of the situation and turn it around for the sake of the younger generation, says Ranjit Singh Thind.

Photograph: wn.com
Photograph: wn.com

As a Malaysian parent very much concerned with the state of education in this country in general and the education of my son in particular, I find the apathy displayed by the Malaysian authorities towards our education system revolting. At the same time, I am not bewildered or shocked by their actions. It is expected.

When Malaysia introduced the teaching of Maths and Science in English under the stewardship of our former prime minister in 2003, I was not ecstatic. My wife was but not I! Deep down, I knew somehow that this policy would not go far in its implementation. The reasons are obvious for even an imbecile to see.

First and foremost, there are three worlds colliding in Malaysia. These three worlds have been perpetuated to exist side by side by the political class for their own benefit and relevance. These three worlds are the Malay schools (national and religious), Chinese schools and Tamil schools. Each type of school has an agenda of its own with its vehement supporters (and detractors). Throw in the private and international schools, you have an explosive situation ready to burst. As much as we try to delude ourselves into the false belief that these various schools (with their own agendas) complement one another and do not compete with one another, the fact remains that Malaysians are further divided and torn apart through the education system.

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The second obvious reason is the curriculum which is outdated. It is not challenging and does not stimulate thinking on the part of the students. Quite harsh words but isn’t it the brutal truth. Parents spend hundreds of ringgit for each child every month to attend tuition classes. Why is there a need for them to do so? Does it make sense? If a country has a good education system backed by good teaching staff in schools, colleges and universities, the education system in Malaysia will not be in the doldrums today.

The third reason is the teaching staff in our schools, colleges and universities. Realistically, only a minority group of our teaching faculty in these institutions are truly teaching.

The time has come for Malaysians to take stock of the situation and turn it around for the sake of the younger generation. To do that, Malaysians need to be bold and take the bull by the horns. Stop begging and start demanding from the authorities! It is an unalienable right for every citizen of any democratic country to demand an education system that brings out the best in his/her child.

Society cannot reward mediocrity for long. It goes against the grain of industry and the law of nature. A society that exists on this line will eventually collapse prompting a ‘restructuring of society’ based on right principles.

A state that thwarts and stifles its citizens in this manner will produce submissiveness and rebelliousness in its citizenry. Each member of the state has to recognise which group each belongs to eventually.

Ranjit Singh Thind is a freelance trainer who conducts English language training for working adults.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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10 Jul 2013 10.55am

from my view,,as a 17 year old student,, yup,,the education need to be restructure..i had read my younger sister textbook and the content had been simplified too much..it was too easy compared from my time…I felt disappointed with this..I hope they would receive a greater challenge..from challenge we got failure and experience.these two things is the real education that would bring the success in life. i also hate the way of spoon-feeding system in teaching..i prefer thinking outside the box..i admit that we student..a lot of us hate studying.(ME TOO). i hope teacher would put a great effort in creating their own way to teach us,,a creative way..we enjoy school that way. teacher need to provide problem and let the student solve it without any help.the current generation love internet,,yup with just one click and there is thousand result appear..thousand result=thousand different type of knowledge.. someone got a question,,well 30 student in one class=30 answer. this,,they also would communicate with each other .,,this way money for tuition is saved.:) yup,,I just say something that similar to university way of studying. why we didn’t put this way… Read more »

18 Mar 2013 6.49am

I pity many talented and bright kids who had been lulled with a false sense of achievement as the academic benchmarks required by the Malaysian education system is at a insufficient level.

17 Mar 2013 8.36pm

Being in the education industry for 22 years at school and tertiary level, I have watched the decline in our youth and their potential. The truth is actually simple. First, we must be committed to a language, an international language. All schools should convert to a system of education in English and give parents a choice of a compulsory second language – depending on ethnicity or need. This means that Malay, Chinese or Tamil can be that compulsory second language, and a compulsory Credit should be required in this subject for a full certificate at each level. With this draw, arguably there will be no need for vernacular schools and everything can and will fall under one umbrella although I suspect we will need to take education out of politics first. To achieve this, we will need to restructure the curriculum and this will take time and should not be done ad hoc but rather take into account the totality of the education experience at school, and then at university. We also need to raise the bar for learning. Over the years the government has taken… Read more »

kaki pulau
16 Mar 2013 1.01pm

This is true to an extent but doesn’t offer any solutions to this ethnic, linguistic and cultural division. There has to be a way to unite the various communities, including the aboriginal and indigenous communities in Malaysia. So far, there seems no agreement on a common education system using a common language, yet respecting the varied linguistic and cultural ethnic traditions as well. Everyone seems to be competing and some are completely left out. Educationists, academics and other persons concerned with education must give this serious thought. The Rakyat await GE13 and hopefully the new administration will make solving the problems in the education system a priority. Hopefully, the solution will serve to unite the nation.

16 Mar 2013 12.06pm

It all boils down to the govt of the day.The administrators are more concerned about their political survival than the larger picture of quality education to provide quality manpower for national building. The pity part is that Malaysia are losing quality personels to other countries after providing free education up to secondary level and mind you,these quality personels are of their own making(hard work) rather than the results of the current education system.

27 Mar 2013 11.16pm
Reply to  mark

Is it politic or bureaucratic .

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