Friday, June 29, 2012
SUCCESSFUL AND EFFECTIVE OUTCOME: There has to be clarity in the focus of reforms for practices and reforms for policies
WITHIN the Malay-sian milieu, there has been the compartmentalisation of reality regarding education with the establishment of two ministries, the Education Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry.
Typically, those engaged at the school-level exercise taught leadership at the level and those engaged in tertiary education exercise taught leadership at the tertiary level. Under present circumstances, educational reforms are only educational level specific.
Educational reforms are typically macro-level strategic reforms focusing on national intelligence and competitiveness. Educational sector and systems reforms are expected to be in synergy with other sectors and systems, particularly with reforms pertaining to strategic human resource, role of women, families and communities.
Education system reforms are also very closely related to reforms in the science and technology, economic and socio-cultural sectors.
There is the intricate intertwining and juxtapositions of education reforms and school reforms but nevertheless distinctions can be made between the two focuses of reforms. There has also to be clarity in the focus of reforms for practices and reforms for policies.
Educational reforms may not have to mobilise the whole teaching force. Educational reforms may just have to mobilise certain strategic implementers of policies.
However, school reforms and educational practice reforms will have to mobilise all educators. Teachers cannot remain unmoved, unperturbed, uninvolved while other stakeholders come to the front stage to define educational futures.
There could be approximately half a million ideas from half a million teachers in the system, or at least 10,000 ideas from the schools in the country to contribute towards the betterment of educational policies, school policies and professional practices.
Enlightened policies considered, ultimately, the betterment of the education system really rest in the domain of professional practices.
School-level reforms and reforms in professional practices open up new assumptions and paradigms regarding human potentialities and capacities.
School-level reforms and professional practices deal with micro level realities and principles of acts of kindness and of love for every child, that no child is a failure, no child is left behind, that every child and teacher is unique, that no teacher loses dignity.
The story of school reforms must be the great memorable experiences for students, staff, parents and others, nurtured by the formal curriculum, co-curricular activities, and the hidden curriculum.
The self-esteem built by the mastery of soft skills, and active participation in competitive and participative sports should constitute the turning point stages of thinking and of life.
For instance, a new paradigm of reform is a curricula policy for every child to master a musical instrument, based on the understanding by curriculum developers of the relationship of music and intelligence to mathematics and physics and even biology and linguistics.
The challenge of school reforms would be to prepare the learners to build civilisation, brick by brick, positive civil idea by positive civil idea. The heroism of educators is in relation to learners; the heroism of education policy makers is in relation to other policy makers, legislators and stakeholders.
The challenges of school reforms and professional practices reforms are about intelligences, the honing of literacies, development of character and educational relevance for the uncertain futures.
The challenges are about the opening of the minds, the openness to all different modes of thoughts, of convergent and divergent thinking, the capacity to really understand the nature of mature and encyclopaedic knowledge, the obsolescence of knowledge and the sensibilities to experience the expanded range of emotions and finesse.
The excitement of educational reform is upon the nation, hyped by the media as well as by the power elites. The greater the excitement, the greater the expectations, and, the greater the inspiration, cynicism and disillusionment if the outcomes do not match expectations.
Educational reforms are not complete without the coherence of continuity of reforms across all levels of education. Educational reforms are not complete without school reforms.
Educational reforms are only meaningful and stand better chances of success and acceptance when a large range of stakeholders are actively involved. And educational reforms are not complete without reforms in professional practices where necessary.
Professional practices reforms can only be really successful and effective when led by professionals and practitioners in the fields.
Writer is a deputy vice-chancellor, INTI Laureate International University