Friday, October 21, 2016

BARU BIAN: EDUCATION, ONE OF SARAWAK’S TALES OF WOE


PRESS STATEMENT
19 OCTOBER 2016

On the change in education policy in Sarawak, at last there is someone from the BN who has the guts to say it as it is. Stupid. Everyone has known it for the longest time, and that is why we started asking a few years ago that the government take back autonomy over Education.

There has been lively discussion on why the Chief Minister chose to refer to the change ‘30’ years ago, with some pointing out the various leaders who were responsible then. If we are to start finger-pointing, let us not forget that the blame also falls on our leaders who did not raise a squeak in protest. In fact, it was the late Rahman Yakub who championed the use of BM as the medium of instruction when he was the Education Minister in 1969-1970 before he became the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

Let us not confine our discussion to the medium of instruction but also to the whole system of education. There is no doubt that the system is rotten. With every new Education Minister comes a new policy so that he can leave his so-called legacy. There is no continuity and the regular policy flips have the teachers struggling with the changes. Take the latest Education Blueprint and its lofty shifts. We have moved way past the 2015 deadline for the repair of all dilapidated schools and yet the schools remain the same or worse.

What about the dumbing down of students? I have been told by former professors that they were pressured to pass students who did not deserve to pass. They were told that the problem was not with the students but with the teachers. This has led to a steady decline in the intellectual and developmental level of our population and a downward shift in our university rankings. Just compare the performance of our institutions of higher learning with those in Singapore and our neighbouring countries. This is why many of our so called top students have difficulty coping when they are sent to foreign universities where they are not given any special concessions. This is why our universities keep producing unemployable graduates. In fact, just yesterday, MP M Kulasegaran called for a stop to the mass production of low quality lawyers. There are some that would say that in Malaysia, mediocrity has been an effective means of political control.

This short-sighted ‘syok sendiri’ policy has resulted in Malaysia becoming a land where mediocrity reigns, and where lack of initiative and drive is commonplace. This is truly a betrayal of our people by the government. Imagine the potential that is not nurtured, the genius that is undiscovered and untapped. Lowering the bar has done the people no favours. To reverse this, we need to implement a drastic change in our Education system and put in place sensible policies that must be maintained for the long term. The culture of patronage and entitlement must be replaced with meritocracy and a thirst for knowledge and genuine excellence. Most urgently, we need to start producing students who are fluent in English, who are taught to think analytically, and who are given the tools to truly excel, instead of being merely mediocre, uninspired and unemployable products of this diseased education system.

The Chief Minister needs to act without delay, and I suggest that he gather a group of experienced educationists who are of the same mind to formulate a plan for Sarawak. Education autonomy must be retrieved from the Federal government. It is the only way.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

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