NEW Malaysia has not dawned yet. What happened on May 9 was an awakening of power within the people, which they can and should wield.
With luck, we will not only rise up once every five years but with every instance, those we entrust with power will propose a plan, be it new or rebranded, for us.
So the days after May 9 are what the Spanish call “Madrugada”, the dark hours of the morning before dawn. It is the work put in during this time that will determine the brilliance of our coming days.
That work must start in our schools, through an education system that will nurture a new generation of Malaysians who are thinkers, not ignoramuses; compassionate, not indifferent; non-prejudicial, not intolerant. Everything we are not, now.
And in order for us to cultivate this new generation of everything we are not, we will need to take a good hard look at ourselves, at what we teach our children.
Will a school with 90% of its student population comprising one race, promoting integration or zealotry of one religion, teach understanding and acceptance?
Do trust and cluster schools teach equality to other publicly funded schoolgoers?
Does ring-fencing accomplished students from the unaccomplished ones, teach inclusivity or support for your peers?
Or do two school sessions, which leave little time for promotion of the development of a person, allow for the growth of a well-rounded individual?
Do we continue teaching values through exams and disregard the growing occurrence of social ills and corruption cases?
Or do we continue to pretend that our children will somehow not inherit our corrupt, narrow-minded and unquestioning ways if we do nothing to change the way formal education is served in this country?
Because a cursory glance at the daily news will teach them neither values nor understanding and acceptance.
A sit down with any passionate educator will tell you what is wrong with our current school system.
So no, solutions should not come from without, it should be worked on with those who have achieved small triumphs within the dysfunctional system.
The role of policymakers and yes, us too, is to decide what should be the outcome of this change in how we nurture our children.
What kind of Malaysia do we want in the future? One which can be easily divided just with talk of race and religion, or one which will work as a community to ensure that the country prospers and we and our children along with it?
What are we willing to do to achieve this? More importantly, what are we not willing to do?
A new syllabus and sock and shoe pairings are not going to cut it.
Revelation of past misdemeanours, without detailed initiatives to curb future abuse? Why bother?
It is imperative instead for us to identify policymakers with ideals and the gumption to reach for the pie in the sky. A better Malaysia for our children.
One that addresses the many ills that plague our children, educators and schools, in that order.
A Malaysia that looks beyond churning out the best but also providing support for those who occupy the other end of the spectrum.
Unless of course we are prepared for another a few decades of Madrugada.
Presenna Nambiar is Business Editor at theSun and believes that we should be mindful of our words and actions, because children are watching. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org