Re-educate the entire country, not just the students

I refer to the news item, “In Terengganu, Dr M emphasises importance of English”. A few weeks earlier, he also said Malaysia must “de-emphasise” religion in national schools.

For Dr Mahathir Mohamad to make the call to master English in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, is something to be admired. I like his boldness in carrying the “English crusade” to the Malay heartland. I do not know if this was by design or coincidence but political pragmatism aside, surely our prime minister has said the right thing to the right audience.

The country is in urgent need of re-education. It is now or never for the Pakatan Harapan government to embark on this window of opportunity before the country breaches the tipping point of no return.

I think we have wasted enough time talking only to end up doing nothing. It is useless to argue with people who hold archaic views.

It is also useless to continue debating with those bent on keeping the country and its people indoctrinated and backward. The time for action is now.

The country needs progressive ideas and modernisation, not dogmas, archaic beliefs and superstitions. We need more than English education. We need an education system that is able to cosmopolitanise Malaysians.

Malaysia is not Japan, China or an Arab nation. Malaysia is more like Singapore and Switzerland. To survive, we must internationalise our people – in world views, languages, skills and adaptability.

In this regard, we should go beyond studying Science and Mathematics in English. We should liberalise and secularise our education, allowing students to study foreign literature, world history and civilisation including the evolution of different forms of government around the world. Right now, everybody knows our education is myopic.

On imparting values and ethics to our children, sometimes I even doubt the effectiveness of religious and moral studies in schools. If we care about values, ethics and morality, we should teach our kids at home and at our places of worship. But do we?

What about children learning all the wrong things from adults and our leaders every day? How and where did the sense of entitlement, easy money and instant gratification among our young people come from?

We can preach, lecture and teach our kids whatever religion and values we want. Ultimately, I think it is always “monkey see, monkey do”, regardless of the faith of the monkeys.

When we see massive scandals unfolding with impunity, a little corruption here, a little stealing there and a little laziness everywhere seems so benign.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.