Sunday, January 6, 2019


The current debate about the United Examination Certificate (UEC) that applies to private Malaysian schools where the medium of instruction is mostly in the Mandarin language is a red herring.

All Malaysian educationists of all stripes should be asked to stand down on the matter. 

It is not an urgent matter. It is an aspirational matter.

Instead, all Malaysian educationists should focus on why the mainstream schools have seriously underperformed over the past few decades.

What went wrong?

In approaching the matter, the government must be the convener and facilitator. Avoid polemics. Focus on syllabus, focus on teaching talent, focus on good morals and behaviour as befits a multi-racial Malaysia, focus on skills that will help to earn a livelihood.

The new government is already moving on this. But, this new government lacks patience. It wants to be seen to have gotten things done, which usually means small issues like shoe colour, while failing to communicate on the bigger issues such as the quality of education.

My suggestion is that this new government start various inclusive processes that involves active consultation with various community groups.

Those of us who studied in mainstream schools have found that since the mid-1980s, the quality of education has gone down. 

The funny thing is that the syllabus is still good. So, why the anomalous situation?

All 3 of my children went through Malaysian mainstream schools. There was tuition, of course. But, they have gone on to tertiary studies in foreign lands and earned high scores and graduated. 

So, if the syllabus looks to be okay, what else is wrong with the mainstream schools?

I will make this one observation.

As my youngest child reached the end of her Standard 6, the new Pengetua Sekolah decided to build a huge surau at the teacher's car park right in the front entrance to the school. The teachers were told to park in the school padang. The padang was at a lower level to the school building so the teachers had to climb a flight of steps to reach the school building. And, if it rained, the padang would become muddy.

So, the playing field became smaller. The grand entrance to the school was obstructed by the surau building. Teachers had to park far away and trudged to the school.

I was quite perturbed as to why the education system was unable to tell the Pengetua that his faith is his personal business and, plonking a building at the teacher's car park would affect the school's processes. The teachers were griping  about the situation but felt emasculated.

Let us leave aside the UEC for now. All educationists must be invited by the new government to contribute to the rebuilding of the mainstream education system.

And, just to put things in stark perspective, understand that whatever that is decided now will take at least a decade or, a generation, to reach fruition. That is how dire the situation is.


walla said...

You may have a point that recognizing the UEC is an aspirational target whose debate will deflect attention from the need to focus on revamping mainstream schools. But given how even Malay parents are sending more of their children to vernacular schools, a national case can be made to mainstream those schools without forfeiture of their independent administration of excellence on the pragmatism that secular education of high standards are a strategic imperative. After all, good education is in the head and not on the skin. And the process of recognizing the UEC is just an administrative process of a local qualification.

That said, i am not sanguine that improving our mainstream system will take only a decade or even a generation because the teachers and educationists themselves are entrenched in mindset and language skills as output from the same system which is to be changed. So, even if we hurry, at the least two generations. That would however be asking well-meaning and concerned parents of today to continue turning a blind eye to what is going on in mainstream schools still indefatigably proselytizing some specific alien culture in what are supposed to be multi-cultural school grounds, thereby polarizing what should be unity-of-diversity to alloy an identity unique only to this country....

It's good to hear you have managed to put your children through fine education. May they excel in life with the same precision of style as someone we both know who has obviously worked hard, made personal sacrifices and provided guidance to support them with deep responsibility through this important segment of life despite all the financial and industrial upheavals. The key objective for most Malaysian parents is to provide their charges a good education as a head-start prelude to higher potential and better careers in a world they know everyday as highly competitive and ever changing.

Meanwhile, for your readers:

walla said...

In your spam box because of those links?