Thursday, September 14, 2006

NS Programme Crucial For Moulding Future Leaders? In Its Present Form, I Think Not.

The Government decided to develop the country in an orderly and systematic manner by moulding future leaders through the National Service Training Programme, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The Deputy Prime Minister said besides offering added value for the trainees, it was crucial in producing a united Malaysian race.

"We don't believe in laissez faire where people submit to anything that happens but instead we implement a national-level programme to mould values, character and culture of the country's future leaders.

Najib said a national-level programme like the NS, mandatory for selected teenagers aged 18 and above, was the only programme where all races in the country could take part. Najib said the NS programme hoped to achieve three goals -- instil unity, patriotism and character-building of trainees.

**** When it comes to the NS, I think Najib tends to get carried away in describing its benefits and advantages. Don't get me wrong, I personally feel that it is a good venture. However there must be a sense of proportion when extolling its virtues. How for example can the National Service Training Programme be considered as 'moulding future leaders' when the system of selection itself is like a 'tikam' and only a fraction of the entire student force benefits?

Has any follow-up been done to see how our 'future leaders' who have benefitted from the NS are coping? Have at least some of them shown any visible improvement in their performances either academically or at the workplace? Have parents been interviewed in adequate numbers to obtain their honest opinion on whether any discernible positive changes have been noted? (Najib did however say that he was "glad with the positive feedback received from parents that their children had changed a lot in various aspects including in self- confidence and human relations like respecting elders, cleanliness and discipline.") Was that feedback as a result of a comprehensive evaluative response process or merely a straw poll thing? The latter probably, because we are masters of leaving half the work undone. The real world beaters are those who plan from alpha to omega and see it through till all the results are in and analysed before coming out with lofty statements and unlikely claims.

More importantly as mentioned earlier, the NS in its present form deals with only a fraction of students, and the benefits to some cannot be either extrapolated or assumed on the rest of those who did not participate. It is my humble opinion that unless we go ahead and implement an all-encompassing NS like that in Singapore and conduct it as efficiently as the Singaporeans do, we cannot lay claim to any tangible improvement or benefit to the nation as a whole.

Details of Najib's speech HERE.


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