We need a value-based, not a market-based schooling system

The Malaysian Education System does not need just a marginal review but a complete change from market-centered schooling to value-based and nature-centric education.

Let us see this illustration. Once there lived a farmer with a few chicks on his farm. The mother hen would go in search of worms and the baby chicks would follow. The self search with a proper guidance gave them self confidence and self satisfaction. When there was a danger from any source, they learnt to evaluate it and take appropriate measures. They grew hale and hearty. One day a foreigner suggested the farmer, “This is the old-fashioned way of rearing the chicks. I will show you a modern and scientific way. Conduct a running race, whichever comes first grow them and sell them as egg-producers, the ones that come next sell them as meat-producers and the ones that come last cut them and sell them as fertilizer.” From then on the chicks compete with one another grew selfish, timid and powerless.

The existing educational problems stem from the choice of wrong purpose of education. The market-centered and job-oriented schooling system caters to the demands of the marketplace at the expense of social and individual needs. The curriculum is set by the needs of the market which are not necessarily good or useful to the creation of a harmonious society. Students are taught to compete, not cooperate. Getting ahead at all costs brings out the worst values in parents, teachers and students. Remember that focusing on the top student depreciates the 49 other students as failures. This perpetuates inequality and prevents equal access to educational resources.

Referring to the article: “Academicians want Review” (Sun, 12 Dec 2011), the politicians may conveniently not want to understand this critical outlook as they vehemently backs the job-oriented schooling system. They would prefer “constant reviews by a panel including foreign experts” and “special team to ensure that the teachers teach according to the syllabus”. They will buttress the system by organizing “vocational skill training for low performing students” arguing “80% of the Malaysian workforce is unskilled” without probing the reasons for such situation. We will be surprised if Datuk Dr. Wee Ka Siong, the Deputy Education Minister accepts for the call for a full review of our education system.

We strongly agree with the Malaysian Association for Education’s support of Prof. Dr. Abu Bakar Nordin’s calls for an overhaul of the present education system.

We need to take a complete U-turn and shift to a value-based and nature-centric education where children would learn voluntarily and joyfully about themselves, the society and the nature in order to live harmoniously among them.

Thus we recommend a new education system with the following principles:

1) The goal of education should be the learning of a harmonious life and the creation of a harmonious society.
2) The syllabus of education should be for learning life skills, including social and emotional skills besides skills for earning a living.
3) The pedagogy should be of participatory one and not one of reward and punishment.
4) Educational infrastructure and facilities should be made equally accessible to all.
5) Evaluation systems should be made holistic and helpful and not of grading, judging and grudging.
6) The training of teachers should be of shaping human personalities and not of creating machines.

The New Education System

Based on the aforesaid principles, we envisage a new culture-based, child-centered and value-based Cluster Schooling System where:

• Every neighborhood would have equal and essential infrastructure for every child to get equal and just share of learning facilities. Parents and Children do not need to search for better options as there would be equal opportunities everywhere.

• The syllabus will be one and the same throughout the nation and would reflect on learning harmony in life. It should be communities based and environment friendly. A judicial combination would be there in learning human values, life skills, perspectives, attitudes, information, intelligence and creativity. It will be rooted in our own culture and not glorify a foreign culture at the cost of our own.

• The child-centered or learner-centered teaching-learning methodology would be followed from primary school to university. It will be based on self-enquiry and self-discovery giving self-confidence and a higher worth of self-image. It will be based on group learning and team spirit. It will not have its base in stiff competition and in selfish motives.

• The evaluation of learning is a must but should not be of grading and degrading the learners but of one that would prepare the children to understand the individual character, intelligence, skills and attitudes and also to know the socialization process undergone. It should not be based on fright and panic but of freedom and delight.

• The teachers are like the acting parents who gently guide the learners towards self-discovery for peaceful community living along with Mother Nature.

Let us look at the root cause of the problem and solve it rather than indulging in tangential issues and coming to wrong conclusions.

Let the chicks have freedom of life. Stop the torture instantly.