A BIRTHDAY is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved. To celebrate Malaysia's birthday today, StarEducation has lined up a pictorial feast of education scenes through the ages.
From teacher fashion to student fads, sporting events to Teacher's Day celebrations, the passage of time has left its mark.
Looking through the black and white photographs of school life taken in the 1950s and 60s, everything seemed simpler then and school offered a rich source of activities and camaraderie. Student life was probably more carefree – after all, tuition was practically unheard of, gangsterism something that happened only in movies, and racial unity a much taken for granted fact of life.
Teachers were respected and looked up to; if they meted out any punishment, parents welcomed their efforts to discipline their children. And learning was not confined to textbooks and the computer. Hobbies like stamp-collecting proved an excellent source of information and history (see story on page 13).
Nowadays, caning is frowned upon, teaching rarely attracts the best candidates and the paper chase has made school life a stressful experience.
But have things really changed that much on other levels? While information and communication technology is making its presence felt in more and more schools, the traditional tools of teaching and learning remain.
The blackboard has not been “wiped out” from the classroom, the pen and pencil have not become extinct and the ubiquitous exercise book is a must-have for any student.
Uniformed bodies like the Scouts, Girl Guides and Red Crescent Society continue to be a central feature in every school, no Sports Day is complete without the march past, and Teacher's Day without a telematch is unheard of.
Although the education system is no longer as fragmented as it was before Independence, the school community still has to work towards greater unity among its students.
The introduction of Vision Schools, the review of national and religious schools and the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English are some of the government's efforts to promote greater integration among the races.
As the 21st century unfolds, more policies are being re-examined and practices reformed to ensure that education continues to equip young Malaysians with the knowledge, values and attitudes needed to thrive in a complex world.
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