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Students should not be blamed for not being creative because any massive changes must begin from within the educators and the school system themselves


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng


(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is right that Malaysia has smart schools and physical hardware but still lack smart software and adequate number of “smart” teachers. However Najib refuses to admit that part of the problem lies with educators within the Education Ministry who refuses to value excellence, merit and leadership by example.  

There is no point for Najib to talk of challenging students to think, create and be inquisitive when the school and social environment discourages such challenges as a threat to their authority. Students should not be blamed for not being creative because any massive changes in “processes and procedures” in school systems as proposed by Najib must begin from within the educators and school system itself.  

How can students be encouraged to think and create when they are not allowed to participate in the country’s political process with university students being subjected to such oppressive laws as the University and University Colleges Act(UUCA)? The UUCA had the repressive effect of parents instilling in their children from an early age to distance themselves from social and political events in their own country.  

Wanting creative students can not be forced but must be nurtured in a liberal and open environment that is free from fear. However in a Malaysian education system fear is never far away and fear is often used as a tool of control and education. 

The greatest criticism of Malaysian schools system is the inexorable decline of standards and the failure to produce employable graduates. Quotas, a weak examination system and political interference has contributed to the drop in standards. The stubborn refusal to acknowledge such systemic failure of Malaysian schools has resulted in some 80,000 unemployable university graduates, a loss of human resources as well as monetary resources expended to train them.

Students should be encouraged not only to think and speak in Bahasa Malaysia and English but also in a 3rd language of Tamil, Mandarin or Arabic as well

There is no use having first-world facilities if we continue to have third-world standards. There is no use having smart schools if the educators are not smart. To compete and complete the goal of establishing Malaysia as an excellent education center, only the best and brightest should be promoted. The refusal to appoint a non-Malay university Vice-Chancellor has deprived Malaysia of our best talents who have gone overseas where their talents are more greatly appreciated. 

More than a million people have migrated overseas since 1970, a vast loss of human resources over the last 35 years, caused by the discriminatory New Economic Policy. Such loss can be seen in Singapore whose administrative and health services would be crippled if all who are of Malaysian origin were to suddenly not turn up for work. 

For this reason the introduction of star rating systems like hotels and cluster schools will not be conducive towards producing a quality education system that is openly available, accessible and affordable to all. How can we encourage creative students when the educators themselves from Ministers downwards are not creative and open to new ideas and ideals? 

For instance Najib wants students to be encouraged to think and speak in either Bahasa Malaysia or English. What is wrong in encouraging them to think and speak in a third language of either Tamil, Mandarin or Arabic to take advantage of the vast business opportunities in India, China and Middle-East. If we continue to discriminate based on our prejudices, not only do we miss out on such opportunities but we sell ourselves short by not taking advantage of our strengths.



* Lim Guan Eng,  Secretary-General of DAP

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