Monday, June 05, 2006

Let The Teachers Teach.

The above headline is not mine but that of Bernama quoting our former Education Director General Tan Sri Murad Mohamad Noor. The current education system must provide some room for teachers to use their own creativity and discretion to help students seek knowledge rather than restricting them to the rigid curriculum.

Reforms in education should be on teaching the students how to gather knowledge from their surroundings instead of the amount of information to be imparted. "The focus should be how to seek knowledge on your own using the existing resources in schools like in the textbooks, radio, television and computers all worth billions.

"In implementing the reforms, I use the words `let the teachers teach'," he told Bernama. Murad said this when asked on his views regarding the nation's education system that is set to undergo reforms among others to shed its exam oriented image and also reduce the number of subjects taught in schools.

On the ever increasing number of subjects, Murad said it was probably inevitable as there was a need to introduce new disciplines. However, he said, it could be avoided by merging with the exisiting relevant subjects.

Teacher training too must be revamped to improve communication between teachers and students, and reducing the teachers' dependence on the curriculum. "Even those who train teachers haven't been to the classroom for ages to teach students. Both the trainers and the trainees must return to the classrooms," he said.

Murad also contended that the reforms must also look into the gender imbalance in the teaching profession where the fairer sex is dominating the profession. While admitting that women are more disposed to teaching, he said when comes to posting to rural areas women are less flexible and this creates a whole list of problems.

He also touched on the `compartmentalisation' of the education system that does not augur well for national integration. Though today we use a common curriculum, teachers trained in the same colleges, yet the Chinese students go to Chinese schools, Indian students to Tamil schools and the Malays to the national schools. "To overcome this dilemma, have national schools with a proven teaching system for Mandarin and Tamil," he said. On the over "centralised" education system, he said: "Can we think of a system of decentralisation. Provide more autonomy to schools. Let the Ministry decide on the curriculum and let the state administer," he said. Murad said education is a dynamic sector and comprehensive reforms with times are inevitable.

****Tan Sri Murad is an eminent educationist and a rare breed of man. He is from the old school yet he promotes ideas light years ahead of his time. If there is anyone who knows Malaysian education intimately it must be Tan Sri Murad. What the Education Ministry needs to do is listen to the wise advice of people like him and implement his ideas and suggestions instead of playing politics with our childrens' future. Teachers must be brought out of offices and bilik mesyuarat back into their classrooms to do what they are trained for - to teach.

His observations on the teaching curriculum, reduction in subjects through merging, gender imbalance in the profession as well as the over-centralisation and 'compartmentalisation' of the education system as he diplomatically puts it (I would say self-segregation) are very pertinent. If only the government listens to him and implements his farsighted views there is an outside chance that by 2025 we should have an education system that we can be justifiably proud of. Until then the less said the better.


Blogger walski69 said...

My parents, before retirement, served in a few teacher training institutes (between the 70's to the early 90's), and at some point in their respective careers did serve under Tan Sri Murad.

Even back then, entering a career in teaching was like the 'last-resort' vocation; something you got into when your SPM qualifications weren't good enough to get you into other fields. At least, from my observation.

Not to say that teachers today lack dedication, though. The current curriculum is a result of years of political appeasement, more so than pursuit of world-class learning. Pushing through the Minister-of-the-day's pet projects was deemed more important than ensuring the curriculum was relevant.

Which is why subjects like Moral Studies (the metamorphosis of Civics in my time) got to become an exam subject.

It is heartening, however, that finally there is talk about a major curriculum revamp (by the current Director General, if I'm not mistaken). I'll reserve any comment until this has come to fruition.

6:51 PM GMT+8  

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