Rethink goals, vision

(File pix) Revamping the education system needs to be carefully done. NSTP/ Mohd Hilmie Hussin

THERE has been much talk of revamping the education system. It needs to be carefully done, lest we see a regressive, instead of a progressive, future generation.

Much is expected of the new government. Having been in the education field for many years, I believe this sector needs to rethink its vision and re-chart directions. An efficient team must take charge of the revamp to ensure a fair, viable and progressive system is put in place.

The present curriculum is losing its relevance as society edges towards modernity. Besides the mushrooming of home schools, which offer an alternative curriculum, getting a licence to operate an education centre seems effortless.

Universities and colleges are filling up vacant shoplots. Though lacking in facilities and faculty members, they are still able to recruit students from all over the globe. Students today have a plethora of choices; this is a concern, especially when quality is being compromised. Education not only reinforces socialisation in a family, it also prepares students for the workforce, and inculcates traits and values so that they become responsible citizens.

The education platform is colourless — it is a training ground where students, regardless of race or religion, are allowed to make mistakes, chase and live their dreams. It is also a platform where students learn to connect, collaborate and integrate — a platform where every individual is respected and given the chance to show his worth.

It is arguable that meritocracy in learning institutions seeks out the weed from the garden, and in so doing, each is rewarded according to merit. Fair and just, it seems, as it embraces the concept of equal opportunity.

Sadly, the mechanism may not be so. When some students fail, they are labelled “drop outs” and ushered into the vocational stream.

Most of them are from impoverished neighbourhoods, with no access to resources or private tuition. These students continue to lag behind. In schools, teachers are busy boosting their private earnings through tuition fees.

Some tutors scorn weak students because they mar their records. Without good grades, it is almost impossible for these underprivileged students to enter public universities, and with the escalating fees in private colleges, their future is bleak. It appears that not just students have lost their dreams, private colleges, too, appear to have lost their vision.

From the way some are run, it is evident that their vision is motivated by individual gains. Education ceases to achieve its goal, that is to empower young minds, but more of a computation of numbers, for numbers equal ringgit and sen.

The top management sets targets, and many become so absorbed in securing numbers that they forget the very purpose of education. For instance, language educators know well that language learning does not happen overnight, still, the top management expects miracles. They hire foreign students who are not articulate in the language, hence, the expertise of language educators is ignored.

Perhaps, before the ministry overhauls the curriculum, it should take a closer look at the quality of the existing learning institutions, and rethink the way these institutions are to be run, the recruitment and remuneration of teaching staff.

We should look beyond scrolls and papers, and more at the industry and professional competence and genuine passion of the teaching staff. Without any industry experience and professional training, what is taught and what is happening outside will remain two different worlds.

It may help if we pause and decide who should benefit from education.

Has education bridged the gap between the haves and have-nots, or has it widened the disparity?

Why do we need schooling? Has schooling achieved its purpose? How is schooling aligned with societal goals and directions?

By Jenny Maganran Goh,

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