Giving History its worth

IN view of changes to the curriculum, History was made a “must pass” subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) as of last year, but students generally regard History with some misgivings.

It is seen as a dull subject and most don’t see the importance of significant events.

In fact it is for these negative perceptions of the subject that the Government in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 is trying to instil love and values of patriotism among the school-going population.

Academicians and historians hope that changes in the education system can help develop and strengthen the national identity of young Malaysians.

History provides identity. History is also about good and responsible citizenship and teaches us how to learn from the mistake of others.

However, the question is how effective History is in cultivating and understanding change and societal development.

Malaysian Historical Society executive committee chairman Tan Sri Omar Mohd Hashim said at a recent History summit in Kuala Lumpur that the identity crisis that existed among the people in so many countries was due to their lack of understanding of who they were.

He attributed this to one of the downsides of a borderless world which made youth easily susceptible to change and ideas that gnaw at their loyalty to their nation.

Research from across the globe even showed that citizens in many nations did not know much about the history of their country and how it all started, he added.

This is perhaps the foremost reason why many countries, including Malaysia, have started giving History prominence in the curriculum.

The formulation of public policies, particularly those addressing national identity issues, help strengthen unity among its people.

Asian nations like South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Singapore have been at the forefront of such change, setting a progressive pace for History education.

Sharpening skills

Omar said that many countries had started with a transformative curriculum that enabled history lessons to become the platform of sharpening thinking skills.

The Education Ministry’s approach and orientation of the History curriculum should also be given precedence, said Omar.

Focus should be given to the efforts of improving the efficacy of History lessons in school through its curriculum, teachers’ professionalism and a more active and creative learning style.

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