Thursday, November 27, 2008

"In Malaysia, to be 'pandai' is a sin"

I came across this article by Mr. JD Lovrenciear, which is so dishearteningly true. Hmm, so much about practising Asian culture so they say that you should never appear brighter than your superior or you will wreck their ego and you'll be blacklisted.

Perhaps, if you are a parent to a child, you could instil the right value of knowledge enrichment to this innocent soul, for learning and knowing is all about making you a better person - inside out - and not a tool to undermine or to intimidate others or to guarantee a good-paying job. Above all, learning is a lifetime experience.

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't" - Anatole France

In Malaysia, being 'pandai' is a sin - JD Lovrenciear

A leading opposition veteran and member of parliament has published the claim that Malaysian universities have fallen way off the radar of the 2008 international university ratings.

According to the claim, Malaysia has also lost to Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines. For the second consecutive year, the 2008 Times Higher Education Supplement (Thes) - Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ratings indicates that Malaysians universities fell far off the list of the world's top 200 universities.

That also places us nowhere near Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.
In response, the public has been reacting to the report, bordering from ‘absolute rubbish’ to ‘having some substance’. Along with it we are also getting to read arguments involving racial sentiments and party politics.

Our education system - given its track record in the past and the huge budget allocations these past fifty years - should rightfully be a model for the developing world.

Instead of blaming race and political parties for the decline in our international standing, we need to have the courage, ability and learned disposition to see the problem in the eye. We need to look at this problem by being focused on nation-building through the raising of human capital that serves Malaysia first.

If Malaysia is successful, all Malaysians will be the beneficiaries. Only with such an un-blinkered view can we appraise the problem with a resolute will to effect change.

Malaysians, as a whole, have to take the blame. Leaders have to feel the guilt. Leave politicking and race out for the moment.

Malaysians, generally, are not interested in the pursuit of knowledge. What matters is how much money one can make. How much influence one can have over those that matter. Merely getting A-grades through spotted questions seems to be the only passion.

Listen to how parents trumpet about their children having obtained so many ‘straight A's’. In universities, speculating on what the exam questions are likely to appear seem to be the narrow perspective among students.

Reading, research and intelligent debates are not our way of life. Just take a look at the blogs. The content, comments and articles are often so narrow and speak volumes about our intellectual maturity.

At the workplace too, intelligent articulate reasoning and having a broad knowledge about things around us is often sneered at. To be pandai is a sin seemingly.

Take stock of what transpires within parliament. The exchanges and antics re-affirm our bankrupt state of mental capacities.

Hear what politicians blurt out through the media all so often? Most often, it is void of articulate, intelligent and honourable thoughts.

Schoolgoing children are not taught to think, critically appraise and reflect. Learning by rote and regurgitating in whole is the safe and predominant approach taken by teachers, students and schools. The tuition industry is a clear benchmark of the state education is in in this nation.

Hence, what goes into the university is short of being garbage.

Yes, we have many JPA 'scholars' entering institutions of higher learning. But what is their attitude towards learning? ‘Pass the exams’ seems to be their only attention.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to pass exams. One has to be graded at the end of the day to know if he or she qualifies.

But the problem is they do not read and research outside of their study area either. It is not a question of no time; on the contrary it is all about ‘why waste time’.

Pass the exams. Get a job. Earn and enjoy. That is the national mantra. So how would you expect better substance to enter universities?

And leaders are not able to revolutionise our education system. We lack the courage and the will to act decisively in the long-term interests of the nation. Party politics and interests are more important than having a world-class education system in place.

And voters will buy anything as long as it meets their immediate selfish personal interests. Therein lies our dilemma. Perhaps it would take a miracle for us to pull ourselves out of this rut.

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