Thursday, January 15, 2015

When you have Umno-linked political operators running our public varsities

15 Jan 11:00 AM

 by K Kabilan
QUICK TAKE: It is said that good teachers know how to bring out the best in students. However for that to happen, the teachers must act as educators, not as political operators.
Take our public universities for example.  Here, our educators seem to have forgotten that a main characteristic of a student is to question. The educators should allow the students to ask questions.
We are not just talking about questions linked to the subjects being taught in the campuses, but also questions regarding everything – from the policies of the government right up to what the opposition parties can offer in the running of the country.
But what is happening in our ivory towers is that we are trying our best to create non-thinking students, those who will just swallow what is being fed to them, without being able to question anything.
Funny when you consider the Education Ministry wants the Form Three students to acquire higher order thinking skills (HOTS) but when it comes to tertiary level education, our students are expected to become simply passive, with no place for student activism at all.
There is a political agenda in this, no doubt. The Barisan Nasional government, which appoints all the vice-chancellors and top educators in public universities, wants to assume control of all these young voters for their own self-preservation.
That is why the premier university in the country, Universiti Malaya, made so much of noise, and embarrassed itself, when it disallowed Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim from holding a talk in its premises late last year.
Last month, UM issued a circular banning staff and students from engaging in political activities both on campus and even abroad.
And this week, social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir revealed that a public university which she refused to identify, has prohibited its students from inviting her to one of their forums.
The fear was that both Anwar and Marina would influence the students to support them. But seriously, do they really need to be present in the university compounds to achieve that?
How silly of our educators? What makes them think that if these eminent persons are not allowed into the universities, the students will not be able to interact with them outside their campuses?
Whatever it is, what is happening is that our educators at public universities are so politically biased that they have forgotten their main role to their students – that is to be a good educator, guide and motivator.
Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges but right now at our public varsities, they are
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