New Malaysia dawn only breaks in schools

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - By

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: let­[email protected]


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