The missing agenda in Malaysian education

Azly Rahman

10 Nov 2018, 11:39 pm

Updated a year ago


COMMENT | After 60 years, what kind of society has our education system produced? What kind of people do we have now in wealth and in power? Where are we going next? What is our agenda for a new Malaysia?

Is our education system geared towards social justice, multiculturalism, and preparing children for the future of post-industrialism?

Is this being done through a rigorous curriculum that enhances mental capacity, multilingual mastery, and above all, a culture of teaching and learning using appropriate tools and available technology to affect the way we see and approach schooling in a uniquely diverse country such as Malaysia?

The missing agenda is the inability to grasp the meaning of the higher-order systemic change vis-à-vis the role of the individual versus the state, and the differences between education, schooling, and indoctrination.

In the last 13 years as a commentator, I have written about this repeatedly, most recently in a two-part piece on Malaysia's educational direction after the recent general election.

No new direction

My comments below are based on my observations as one who has been in the profession for more than 30 years, and blessed with the experience teaching in a variety of contexts both in Malaysia and the United States, and having studied comparative education systems as well as trends in international education.

The problem is what is being considered as a 'new direction' seems to look like a list of initiatives that have been done in the past, devoid of radical innovations, new ideas of social imagination and implementation.

Yet the country's leaders want to venture into becoming spearheads in ‘innovative’ ventures – from a third national car produced by outsiders, to the best durians cloned to perfection...