Education reset: Glory Road challenge facing Maszlee Malik

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Maszlee must be willing to do what Don Haskin did in the face of opposition and road blocks; he must be willing to strike out on a path less travelled, writes Teo Chuen Tick.

I just watched the movie Glory Road on television. It was an eye-opener. I am no sports fan but with names like Michael Jordan and the Globetrotters, I had always thought basketball was very much a sport dominated by black Americans.

What coach Don Haskin went through to assemble the team and transform it into a winning team in the 1966 NCAA tournament title was inspiring.

So how is the movie linked to our education system reset? Dr Maszlee Malik has been named Minister of Education and there is a parallel with Haskin’s appointment as basketball coach for the underdog Texas Western basketball team.

In this case, Maszlee is the underdog. The challenges facing our education system are huge. Hopefully, Maszlee will do a Haskin with his appointment as minister – by bringing in people who can make our education system functional [I dare not use the word great as yet] again.

Haskin did precisely that. He hired black players to play in 1965, when racial discrimination was still a big problem especially in Texas, as depicted in the movie. He was only interested in the colour-blind “win or lose” dictum of sports; he was not intentionally recruiting black players but his limited budget forced his hand as the more well-known white players of the time spurned his offers.

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Our Ministry of Education can surely afford the services of experts whose input can help put our education system back on a good footing. It should not rely on armchair bureaucrats only interested in form rather than substance.

Yes, I hear the sighs of those who have been in the education service: not more experiments and more reports, please! Not those, for heaven’s sake – we have enough of those.

Practitioners like Malaysiakini columnist Dr Azly Rahman may be able to give advice on what to do to stop the slide in our education standards. No, not by asking teachers to do more paperwork and reports that are in most instances more for show or window-dressing for the bureaucrats. Instead, concrete steps are needed to allow teachers to go back to the basics of what their training was all about: nurturing young minds and preparing them to face the working world with the required skills.

Change has finally come to this nation of ours. Maszlee must be willing to do what Haskin did in the face of opposition and road blocks. He must be willing to strike out on a path less travelled. The reset button for our education system must be pressed – no ifs, no buts, – so Maszlee better be up to the task.

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Teo Chuen Tick
Teo Chuen Tick, a former teacher trainer, is interested in political developments in Malaysia. He became an Aliran member as part of his ‘retirement project’ to give something back to society.

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