ON On Teachers’ Day this week, parents once again said the quality of education in national schools was “pitifully behind”, and also questioned the deteriorating standard of education. English language.
As English struggles to survive in the school curriculum, politicians continue to fight tooth and nail for Bahasa Malay to predominate, while blatantly downplaying the use of English.
Another parental concern was that world history was slowly being suppressed and replaced with politically acceptable stories rewritten to highlight local leaders. Even the use of English in math and science has been used as a political tool that has seen volatile changes.
In the late 1990s, a tacit compromise was reached for the introduction of “a unique language and tunnel vision that spread local history”. The approach has manifested as more information-based and spoon-based education, primarily exam-oriented. Somehow this system developed its own momentum with a rationale of its own, and perpetuated itself. Even those responsible for execution lost sight of why he was there in the first place.
In 2012, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, as Minister of Education, then raised concerns about these issues and spearheaded the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), which defined better curricula, teaching materials and internationally recognized programs in schools.
The master plan also clearly defined language skills gaps and expectations for quality teaching, with a guide for training English teachers to raise the level of English proficiency. However, the essence of this detailed, comprehensive and comprehensive plan has been diluted and distilled into various transfers of power over the past four years.
Meanwhile, more affluent parents, who can afford an exorbitant price for a quality education, sent their children to international schools, which provided an insightful look at world cultures, histories, and literatures.
The underprivileged monolingual national school child inherited weak local educational practices and was forever left behind.
Students should be able to reimagine another, larger world that offers much more than what already exists. This knowledge cannot be underestimated in today’s world. Our young people should have a right to this learning.
Many teachers who only spoke Bahasa Melayu did not have access to the millions of books in the world of English literature. Even though some of the books have been translated, the beauty, the pace of the reading and its uplifting experiences will be lost in interpretation.
The great works of classic authors like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and George Orwell, which have stood the test of time, need teachers to be trained in special skills in creative literature for subjective interpretation and intellectual discourse with their students. Teachers should be able to inspire students to critically engage diverse opinions and provoke deeper levels of creative thinking.
Literary books give us a glimpse into another history, culture, social and political reform, with students having a wider radar of what to read. The words in this literature have meaningful and timeless quotes that give students a broader view of life and a point of reference for their own position in the global world.
An inspiring story to describe here is Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho. It is about a boy who travels from Spain in search of buried treasure in Egypt. During his travels he meets people, encounters obstacles and finally discovers that knowledge is the real treasure.
Our social fabric has been built by many communities, ethnicities, literatures and is home to 137 languages. Many of these indigenous languages went unrecognized, their voices and thoughts systematically and deliberately silenced to make way for Bahasa Malaysia. Tamil literature continues to be taught in secondary schools, but after school hours.
In the past, the government used free Tamil literature books, but lately administrators have made it difficult for students to study or take literature as an exam subject, with excuses such as “no funds , no teachers or no students”.
Similarly, Chinese literature would not have been popular among students due to the lack of attention given to the subject.
World literature, reading and creative thinking should be made compulsory, not only to master languages, but also to educate and prepare young Malaysians for the dynamic changes and challenges of globalization. The system should not deprive young Malaysians of these privileges.
Reading beyond textbooks is essential for those seeking to rise above the average student. We need to rebuild this broken system and motivate them to read about historical events and great leaders who brought change to our world.
If they limit themselves to localized tunnel reading, they can grow up in a toxic well of conjecture, where fiction and fact can become confused.
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