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Behind the mirror of our educational vision

Azly Rahman
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COMMENT | I was invited to speak about education and progress. The topic given? "Polished Education, Boundless Mentality". Strangely framed, as I read it the first time around. What does "polished Malaysian education" look like? What reality will we see? How does this relate to "boundless mentality"? It will be in Nottingham England, the land of Robin Hood who stole from the rich, to give to the poor. A nice story of today’s economic ideology.

Polishing a definition

When I hear a word or phrase, I will first think about what it means and next dismantle it entirely, reconstructing it next. If you "polish" Malaysian education, like cleaning a mirror, will you see beauty? Or ugliness? Peace? Violence? I see words and phrases like a Wittgenstein and Chomsky combined, then I'll do the Foucault and Rushdie on them.

The Sufi will "polish" the mirror to see the "reality" of the self. To become “the insanul-kamil as Jalaluddin Rumi would say, the human self in all its glory as St Francis Assisi would say, the bodhisattva as the Prince Siddhartha Gautama would say, the jen or gentleman as Master Kung Fu Tze would say, or the android with a true human heart and soul in an age of advanced machines, as post-humanists would say”.

How do we evolve at the highest polished level and realise that what we have, the world within is larger than the world outside, and that both worlds must be made to harmonise, in order for us not to be enslaved by the forces in society that operate within the strict paradigm of the Master-Slave Narrative, from then, now, till eternity?

But, speaking about “polished and boundlessness, what is our reality as a nation calling ourselves Malaysian? Our education today is a façade, a mirror painted with images of niceties, hiding a violent reality. How do we "Finnish or Nipponise or Singaporise" our education when we have a broken mirror to see ourselves?

Behind the mirror

Behind the mirror we try to polish lies the structure of inequality based on race and religious bigotry. We ignore completely that a "polished education" will not make sense when the object we are polishing is built with the rust of racism and class When all the races continue to call for a better apartheid system, in approach and in funding, we cannot have a polished system.

Today's ruling regime has no sense what it means to educate our children to have "boundless mentality". Race is still key. The eyes that see education must be the ones not blind to racial discrimination or religious extremism as ideology. As long as we have the ruling party addicted to race-based policies, we shall not see "boundless mentality". With today's complete morphing of Pakatan Harapan into the new BN, Bersatu into Umno 3.0, what do we expect for educational equality?

Still, I am trying to deconstruct the meaning of the topic 'Polished Education, Boundless Mentality'. Can we have it? Without understanding the inextricable link between sustainability, human rights, peace and social justice, how can we proceed?...

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