One has to sympathise with Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid for having to bear the burden of explaining our much criticised education system. He had to do it again when confronted with yet another depressing report on the system, one done by Prof Teo Kok Seong, who once served in the National Education Advisory Council.
Teo said research had revealed that non-Muslim parents were uncomfortable sending their children to national schools because religion played too great a part in the system.
Mahdzir pledged that the government would not allow national schools to become “too “Islamic,” but he also took the opportunity to heap praise on the government for an education policy that he said was so good that it had produced people who could afford to send their children to private schools.
That’s a strange statement to make if you are trying to give credit to the current government for the current education policy. It spoke of a glorious past. So was he in fact apologising for the administration he represents?
The problem is that the education system we have for our children and the education system we went through are two different things entirely, and the education we had, in turn, was inferior to the education our parents had.
We have been regressing. How far have we lowered the passing grade for Mathematics, for instance? And how easy is it now to get an A for English? Why are Math and Science taught in Bahasa when the poor students will enter university only to have to unlearn everything they know because the terminologies at that higher level are mostly in English?
It is in fact doubtful that the national education system can be credited for the success of the parents of today’s schoolchildren. It’s more likely that they have had to work hard to overcome the limitations of their early education. They probably had to go through the hard knocks of life to acquire the skills that have led to their success.
Malaysians are a hardworking lot, and it is a disservice to them to credit our poor education system for the success some of them have found. It is in fact an inglorious act of denial.
But perhaps the Malaysian Education Blueprint that Mahdzir launched will right the wrongs in the system. Time will tell.