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Thoughts of a Worried Citizen by Lyana Sulaiman

Thoughts of a Worried Citizen by Lyana Sulaiman

Education is always an issue, and I have been fed with plenty of it since young, as I came from a family of teachers.  In Malaysia I’ve noticed that a lot of changes have tried to be made, but in the end, left in vain due to mentalities of a small part of the society. Born in the 90’s, I believe that I am lucky to see with my own eyes, some drastic policies implemented by the government.

 

One of the policies which I think worked for me the best was the PPSMI policy, in which Science and Mathematics were taught and learnt in English. It was indeed a non-populist policy, as many national language lovers were against it.  However, being the 1st batch to be experimented with the policy, I found it very useful to me. Unfortunately, even before its 10th years of implementation, the government reverses the policy and it disappointed me a lot as I know how it would help a developing country like us. But little do I know, that after learning a little bit more of the diverse culture in Malaysia, I actually saw the reason why it failed to meet its purpose to some part of the society.  Those who have a poor basic of English suffered more then they should in those subjects thought in English, hence the gap between students from the city and rural areas failed to be bridged.

 

And then came the idea of Vocational College in 2011. The concept was simple, to allow a faster route for students who are not competent in academic to excel in technical skills. Back then I thought it was a good idea, as education should serve all types of student. Unfortunately, again, and worse, not even after 5 years of its implementation, the concept was questioned due to its lacking in qualification and the government is revising whether they should continue with a better plan, or change to another completely different plan.

 

The most recent academic policy that caught my attention was then the School Based Assessment (PBL).  This policy was implemented right after I was done with my high school years, in which a good news for me as I see the light of this wholesome policy as compared to the ones that I’ve went through (national examinations). However, not surprisingly, the first few years of its implementation was harshly commented by students and teachers themselves due to its level of difficulties and continuous workloads. But fortunately, they remain to implemented until now, and hopefully will be fruitful in the future.

 

After reading through my rants of how the policies were made, revised, and reversed, what do you think am I trying to deliver?  That is up to you to be interpreted. But here’s my piece of mind.  In my opinion, education policies change the brain, but not the mind, which is regretful. I believe that if those policies were to work, it will take not just 5 years to be seen as successful, they need decades to be proven right.  Sadly some minds are not ready for changes, and this is what hinders us from moving forward. The more dangerous minds are the idealist, who expects perfection, that education should turn everybody to geniuses, with strings of As and flying colours.  We just forgot how diversed humans are, the solution is to allow more choices and freedom to choose.

 

Here’s the thing. Those policies are great, but their faults are in the process of implementing it. Why? The teachers are not wholeheartedly ready to sustain the change, the parents are not readying themselves to explain to the child, and the children are left floating and hanging to deal with the changes by themselves. What’s worse? The society being ignorant, not even wanting to know what’s going on. In then end policies are to be blamed, and considered to be failed even before we can realistically see the result. What I hope is just for the policymaker to be firm and thoughtful, to seek advice from academician rather than politician,  and to stop thinking that Malaysia is not ready for changes. Because in reality, we will never be ready, until we’re forced to.

 

Lyana Sulaiman is the Commonwealth Cultural Program (CCP) Director of The Kalsom Movement 2017/18. She is currently studying medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and is passionate about volunteerism and helping others in need.

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