Need for change in mindset

Sunday June 17, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/6/17/education/11436594&sec=education

THE high-level Education Revamp Committee will review and deliberate on nine areas of our education system. “Role of parents and the community” is one area.

While there is no doubt that parents and the community have made valuable contributions over the years, I feel they need to change their mindset with regard to certain aspects of our education system.

Unless the mind is transformed, age-old prejudices, biases, and misconceptions will continue to influence and govern their decisions and actions. As the saying goes: Sow a thought, reap an act.

Firstly, parents and the community must change their mindset on the real purpose of schooling. As it is, the emphasis is on scoring top marks, rather than acquiring knowledge and skills, and character development.

I believe that when children are taught to love learning for the sake of knowledge, their grades will take care of themselves. If a child is given attention and recognition for his potential, he is more likely to do well in school.

Secondly, Bahasa Malaysia must be accorded its rightful place as a language of integration so that it can truly be the lingua franca amongst the different races of our citizenry. I think it is totally unacceptable for any of our people now, more than 50 years after the Independence, to still converse in less than good BM, or worst, in pasar BM.

A mindset change in this regard will give new impetus to acquiring proficiency in BM for reasons of patriotism.

With this understanding, parents and the community will be able to better promote the Education Ministry’s Upholding BM and Strengthening English policies with greater eagerness, earnestness and sincerity.

Thirdly, parents and the community must change their mindset on vocational education. Vocational studies should not be regarded as “second-rate” education, inferior to academic studies. The perception that only those who are academically-challenged go to vocational schools must be discarded.

Vocational studies and training open a world of opportunities to those who are gifted in non-academic pursuits. The skills they acquire make them an indispensable part of our workforce, a pillar in nation-building.

Parents and the community must recognise the versatility and vast potential in vocational education. Only then will the initiative to upgrade all vocational schools to vocational colleges achieve a good measure of success.

New wine calls for new wineskin. The mindset of parents and the community must align with the new thinking and approaches initiated by the Education Ministry; otherwise, we labour in vain. Renewed thinking is the way forward.

LIONG KAM CHONG