If students canâ€™t be involved in affairs of the living world outside the classrooms and learn from their mistakes, they will end up intellectually crippled in the real world.
Isnâ€™t their job to promote learning and freedom of thought for the benefit of future Malaysia, to encourage the blooming of a conducive environment for competitiveness, genius, innovation and breaking of new grounds?
It was one of those moments of incredulity when we had to read the statement by Higher Education deputy director-general Ir Dr Hamisah Tapsir in Kota Kinabalu last week in which she advised students to refrain from being “influenced by what is happening within the country and abroad as it would only create confusion.â€ť
In the same breath she also urged the students to be “ready in accepting changes to be able to face the challenges.â€ť
This is outrageous, coming out from an educator. How do you prepare to accept challenges if you are not allowed to think about and make assessment about developments in this country and at the global level?
What is the point then of being a student?
When Hamsiah said â€śit only creates confusionâ€ť, she sounded like a politician, not an educator.
Does Hamsiah still believe that students should only believe what their teachers teach them or what their political leaders tell them, because of the fear that they will get confused?
How then are students to learn anything if they canâ€™t make comparisons and make judgements for themselves?
‘Students must think and not just parrot’
But that of course is the system of education in Malaysia: donâ€™t criticise, donâ€™t question, donâ€™t analyse, donâ€™t argue â€“ just memorise the facts, get good marks and pass the course.
And then when they look for jobs they realise these educated former students were never trained to think!
If our students canâ€™t be involved in affairs of the living world outside the classrooms and learn from mistakes on their own, they will end up intellectually crippled in the real world after they leave school.
Keep the bird in the cage and it will never learn to fly!
The right advise to students should be: Think, think and think again! Donâ€™t simply believe.
Question if you doubt! Find and create new ideas. Learn from the best (the philosophers, thinkers, scientists, discoverers and adventurers).
Education is not just what you learn in school but the knowledge and skills you develop to find more knowledge and skills after you leave school.
Emulate successful leaders and corporate players locally or globally. Realize that one day you will be smarter than your aging teachers or professors, that you will hold more powerful positions than them.
Invent something. Re-invent yourselves and be someone better, be motivated to seek empowerment.
That is the purpose of education â€“ to change yourselves and to change the country, to change the world.
The writer is a former editor, freelance writer and activist in Sabah