‘Education policy makers responsible for unity are tearing the people apart’

17 Jan 2020 / 09:36 H.

PETALING JAYA: Politicians are to blame for racial and religious discord among Malaysians.

They have been abusing the national unity agenda in their search for popular support, according to the Majlis Perundingan Melayu, a non-governmental organisation that promotes Malay interests.

Its secretary-general Datuk Dr Hasan Mad said that the only way to repair the damage was through education.

Unfortunately, Hasan said, there were too few opportunities for nation building in the education system.

“The trouble is that the hands that control the educational agenda – the politicians – are the same hands that are tearing us apart.”

However, he said, if the politicians were prepared to compromise for the sake of future generations, they could ensure that courses on nation building be added to the curriculum.

On the role of schools, he said that apart from imparting knowledge, they should also be responsible for nation building, nurturing talent and developing character.

He said this could be achieved if the education system was completely overhauled.

“The education system is in complete limbo. There is no better time than now to formulate a new recipe,” he said.

He was responding to a front page article in theSun on the role of schools as education institutions versus the responsibility of fostering unity.

The article had cited several stakeholders calling for schools to focus on education over other responsibilities such as fostering unity among the various races.

In a statement to theSun yesterday, Hasan pointed out that at the higher level, especially the tertiary and post-academic stages, education and training was not merely a process of completing the learning curve but also a process of nurturing talent.

“Here lies the challenge of creating, developing and grooming talent,” Hasan said.

This, he said, was all the more essential in a world where only the fittest survive, and they were the ones equipped with the talent to acquire and manage technology.

On the issue of racial or religious polarisation, he pointed out that school enrolment was as diverse as the population.

Hasan said in some areas, schools were also expected to play the role of disciplinarian.

“Most parents, especially those from the B40 community, are so weak in their parenting skills and culture that they expect teachers to be responsible for shaping their children’s character. This is another burden for the education system.

“Only when this burden of character building is addressed, can we expect teachers to have the time and energy to teach, guide, groom and impart knowledge to the students,” he added.

Meanwhile, theSun reader Steve Ngeow pointed out that while imparting knowledge was important, it was also essential that certain subjects, such as Science, Maths and Business be taught in English.

“There is really not much room for a rational debate that English is the language of knowledge and commerce. Technological knowledge is developing constantly and is mainly done in English. Mastering English is needed to effectively and efficiently acquire and master new knowledge.”

He also said that Hong Kong and Singapore’s strong bilingual education policy, focusing on strong English competence, has been their key to becoming regional financial centres and advanced economies.

“We need our students to focus on learning and applying sound analytical skills, and not to focus on rote learning, which tends not to do well in the ever-changing competitive world we live and do business in.”

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