Public education system needs major restructuring, reforms

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Unfortunately, many of our leaders and some people have been far too satisfied with the status quo and their achievements, laments Abdul Rashid Hanafi.

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There is a clear need to thoroughly restructure and reform our education system.

Education is where the race begins and it is clearly the single biggest problem. It affects everything we do, whether it is the expectations of our next generation, the housing problems, the drug issues, human rights issues, the crime rates, disintegrating families, corruption, interethnic and interfaith disharmony, and unemployment.

These, and everything else, are so intertwined that we cannot solve them unless we first solve the education problem.

History teaches us that countries crumble and whole civilisations collapse when their core ideas (education) fail or become obsolete.

For our society, nation and its institutions to be resilient and progressive there must be space for dissent and discourse, and the dissemination of ideas to enable citizens to seek out and point out the faults and abuses which exist or may develop.

But it is unfortunate that many of our leaders and some people have been far too satisfied with the status quo and their achievements. They have grown indifferent and complacent and don’t want to see, say or hear anything which might disturb the tranquility of their comfort zone. They easily get upset and view criticism, suggestions and advice, good or bad, as seditious.

Measuring this country against major competitors shows how global competition has radically altered the way people work, what educational institutions need to teach, and the level of nurturing of the people’s ardent spirit of inquiry. Sad to say, we fail miserably on almost all counts.

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We need leadership with strong intellectul capacity. When future generations look back on what our present leaders have accomplished, they are not going to remember that our leaders balanced the budgets or decreased taxes or handed out goodies.

They are going to remember whether our present leaders made significant changes and provided the necessary leadership in our public education system. This is a matter of grave concern because the evidence of our leaders’ decisions and actions today will be the legacy that is passed on to the future generations and determine their well being.

Abdul Rashid Hanafi is a retired teacher based in Kedah.

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