Malaysia is definitely facing a new era of social engineering!

After fifty years of post Merdeka development which focused on the eradication of poverty, rural development, building of infrastructure, growth of business and industry, equitable distribution of wealth etc etc the country is seeing the results of these policies.

There’s no doubt the country has prospered! Once known for being the small peninsula north of diminutive Singapore, Malaysia has carved a name for itself and  is now standing on its many feet. Malaysians have a lot to be proud of because we have made our nation what it is – warts and all!

And warts there are many indeed! Because let’s face it – social engineering has its products and bye products! Development as a whole especially if it is rapid begets results which are  both positive and negative.

Ironically, a much lamented bye product of its equity/equality building policies  is the inequalities that have been created. In providing support to the bumiputras to correct their economically and educationally disadvantaged positions, the nation is facing the grouses of non-bumiputras who feel their interests have been largely ignored.

This, despite the government’s continued support of Chinese and Tamil vernacular education and mother-tongue schools. And aid to the underprivileged Chinese and Indian communities! It’s never enough!

The overwhelming grouse over the years is that non-bumiputra students who achieve academic excellence are not given financial support in the form of government scholarships for tertiary education.

ABSOLUTELY! There should never have been discrimination on this in the first place! Why was it impossible for our leaders to see that helping deserving bumiputras should not negate the responsibility of helping deserving non-bumiputras!

So now we see the introduction of the meritocracy scholarship a.k.a. national scholarship opening the window for a more just and equitable affirmative action  in education. And calling it “national” is neutral and unbiased!

To engineer another failing in Malaysian society viz the relative shortage of non- bumiputras in the civil service and in the teaching profession, I believe more scholarships should be aligned towards these sectors. In other words there must be more teaching and MCS scholarships for non-bumiputra students to attract the best minds to serve in these professions.

The BN government is thinking wisely thanks to Dato’ Seri Najib’s think tanks! And the PM’s rhetoric seems right and right to the point.  But whether these new policies and pronouncements will be smart enough and quick enough to regain lost ground is a moot question! 

Perhaps I won’t see an outstandingly better Malaysia  in my lifetime but there is hope for my children and grandchildren! That is,  if they and their friends are sincere and honest about building up ONE MALAYSIA!


4 Responses to “”

  1. June 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    yes it is a good move to open the awarding of scholarships based on meritocracy. The best move so far. Not only will it give equal opportunities to those discriminated before but it will be a wake up call to the bumiputras as well.

    Unfortunately the reason for the lack of best minds in the teaching profession, I believe, has little to do with the lack of scholarships offered in these fields. The lack of best minds has in fact a lot to do with the poor pay, the poor facilities, the unmotivating environment and circumstances at the wotkplace(schools) and the confusing and volatile education system over the decades which all in all has made it the most undesirable profession at large.

    Becoming a teacher (in government schools)is now a last resort for most young graduates. Most of them (esp the Malays)find themselves teachers or serving in the civil service because they have failed to secure jobs in other fields (esp in the private sector and esp in International corporations) simply because they are unable to compete.

    One could offer a non bumi a scholarship with an eye to becoming a teacher in a government school n Im almost certain he/she will turn it down. The profession pays poorly, offers no challenges, is restrictive in methods which kills creativity (in both teachers and students)and although teaching is a noble profession when it first evolved it no longer is now (at least not here in Mlasia). It has become a tool for political and religious agendas, sometmes not only at a national level but on a personal level as well.

    So we now see most government schools being dominated by almost one race (whether amoung the teachers or students)to such an extent that the non malay/ or non bumis, if they had a choice, would prefer not to educate their children in such schools let alone to work there.

    I have always had a deep respect for the teaching profession because of the vital role it plays in society and inn our children’s lives and I have over the years wished that the status of teachers be raised to sucha level so that it becomes a desirable profession sought by all and especially attracting intelligent and knowledgeable graduates or as you say the ‘best minds’ , and esp too attracting those who sincerely have a deep love of teaching but have turned to other professions for the sake of survival but who would otherwise have been wonderful, creative and dedicated teachers that our children would look up to.

    And the only answer to such a problem (the problem of sourcing the best minds, be it bumis or non bumis) into the teaching profession (and the civil service), the way I see it, is to raise the salaries. Not only wil it become an attractive profession to pursue , not only will it raise the prestige of being a teacher, but it will also in turn justify the demand for higher standards of qualifications, skill, service and professionalism amoung them. it will create competition amoung well qualified and equipped applicants and as a result a healthier choice for potentially skilled, gifted and highly professional teachers, something we are desperately in need of.

    In other words we will be getting the best from amoung the best rather than the best from amoung the worst which is d case now

  2. 2 ninitalk
    July 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Appreciate your views Zurin which BTW are exactly what my husband just argued!

    If you want to attract the best minds to take up teaching scholarships and work in the teaching profession you must make the salary and remuneration schemes as attractive as the other offers out there!

    Again the chicken and egg situation which needs to be broken into! Which should come first – increasing the salary or recruiting the people?

    I think it takes more time to implement a major revamp of government salary schemes (the MCS included) because it is a huge undertaking that has numerous ramifications. I’m not saying it cannot be done but it is not as easy as offering the scholarships.

    Your point about the non-bumis not taking up the offer is valid indeed! High achievers are a marketable commodity so the world is their oyster. It those with average or less than average results that will take up these government handouts!

    Well – the JPA people had better put their mediocre heads together to come up with an outstanding offer that few can resist! I have some ideas on this – but then who cares about retirees with 30 or more years of teaching experience when you have smart government servants who haven’t taught a day in school or university!

    Apart from the Malays , the Chinese and Indians had better buck up too! Demand this and that if you deserve it but contribute this and that to the country instead of just thinking about a big fat salary!

  3. July 1, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    good article! and I agree with zurin. the entire system and culture of seeking excellance needs a major overhaul. the education system here unfortunately is not progressive even in academic terms let alone in creating a new generation of thinkers and innovators. it’s all too lethargic and strangely enough politicized. even the great schools have become less great bordering hopeless. I feel sorry for the rural students because they would find it harder to compete given the lack of technological reach. quality of teachers is a whole different subject altogether!

    we need to semi privatize schools and make them compete towards excellence. if the govt won’t do it then parents should get together and do it. rm50 per child per month is one way to revolutionize a school with better teachers and facilities. our govt believes in quantity over quality because there is pressure to create jobs for the Malays. I believe so. how else do you explain a 1.2m civil service in a 25m odd nation?

    the culture has to change and merit must be the order of the day regardless of race, rights and political rantings! or else we would be heading towards 0 Malaysia!

  4. 4 ninitalk
    July 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I think your idea of making parents financially responsible for upgrading the school system is a great one! This is already the norm in private schools where the high term/annual fees subsume the RM 50 per month which you are suggesting. This is why private schools can offer their teachers higher salaries and their students the best and most sophisticated infrastructure and teaching methodologies. The teacher/student ratio is 1/20 compared to 1/45 in the government schools.

    Unfortunately, the country’s sekolah kebangsaan are part of the government’s responsibility to universalise and democratise education and make it free and accessible to all. I’m afraid your suggestion of making parents contribute RM 50 will be shot down by all except perhaps the top urban schools.

    We tend to forget that the majority of students in government schools are not as advantaged as your kids and my cucu; their parents not as well off to be able to contribute RM 50 let alone tuition and special classes for their children. We must not forget the rural kids out there and their disadvantaged home and socio-cultural environments. Added to this is the problem of poor school facilities and underqualified teachers. This is the vicious circle of education which is directly related to the vicious circle of poverty!

    I agree there must be an educational revolution or perhaps, less hastily, educational reforms. I admit that over the 3 decades I’ve been an educationist reforms have been mainly reactive (as all reforms are) and implemented in starts and stumbles. The reality is that the country’s development has been rapid with old needs changing and new ones arising every few years. Even educationists and language experts change their tunes to meet societal changes every now and then.

    For instance in ELT (English Language Teaching) there have been the grammar translation method, the language laboratory drills, the communicative syllabus, the functional approach, English for special purposes, focus on receptive versus productive skills and vice versa etc etc. I’ve been through them all.

    And the standard of English is still declining rapidly!

    Of course people of your parents’ and my generation speak better English. We were totally immersed in it through the education system and the whole socio-cultural environment; through books, films, extra curricular activities, social and family interactions! In your generation urban students like you and my kids grew up in a similar environment, albeit the country’s medium of instruction in schools and universities had switched to Bahasa Malaysia. Unfortunately this scenario is not replicated among the majority of Malaysians (students, teachers, parents) in less advantaged areas.

    So is education a lost cause in Malaysia?

    I don’t think so! There is still plenty of room for social engineering, and hope for a better education system in Malaysia if reforms are handled wisely! Education will always be the hotbed for politicians because the stakeholders are their contituents! You please one group at the expense of another!

    A win-win situation for all is the answer! To me short term measures include using the language labs and drills in grammar and pronunciation for students and teachers; pumping up reading and writing skills through literature, book reports and story telling/ writing; interactive and group work in class; teaching History in English. Long-term measures include offering meritocracy teaching scholarships; in-house retraining of teachers; upgrading teaching facilities in schools.


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