I WOULD like to share my views on the beautiful and thought-provoking National Day theme that has been used for the second year running, Sehati Sejiwa.
As an educator since the 1960s, and having been actively involved during the implementation of the Razak Report, the Rahman Talib Report, the Cabinet Report, the KBSR/KBSM and the Malaysia Education Blueprint both for schools as well as higher education, I must confess that our education system is yet to move towards producing the “global citizen with a strong Malaysian identity” as spelt out in the latest document for higher education.
To create the global citizen with a strong Malaysian identity, schools must mould the students of various ethnic backgrounds by getting them to mix freely among themselves without regard to race, religion and colour and accord due respect to the practices of each other. Only when such values are inculcated at the school level, which is a step higher than the informal education students have based on their own cultures at home, can the students be exposed to Malaysian culture.
For such Malaysian cultural values – very aptly embodied in our Rukun Negara – to be instilled, we also need the right settings. For this, we need the academic and administrative leadership at our schools to be above narrow ethnocentric stances that emphasise the differences rather than the similarities among the Malaysians. School activities should be a showcase of integration that unite the students as well as parents, and led by the educators in our institutions.
Education Ministry officials have to ensure that there are inclusive procedures at all levels so that the moulding of our students as young Malaysians takes place in a harmonious, transparent and loving environment.
While the written curricula may be able to get students to master the cognitive aspects of education, it is the unwritten curricula (which seems to be completely forgotten by our present teachers and administrators) that will decide whether we’ll have Malaysians with one heart and one soul. For this, we need the real educators who are not influenced by partisan political, racial or religious viewpoints and who have a passion for moulding young minds.
As our political leaders are divided and can’t be exemplary in this regard, they should leave these educators and educational administrators to do the job.
We need courage and lots of sacrifice to achieve this dream. Dr Abdul Kalam, the late former President of India, said that a dream is not what you have during your sleep, but one that doesn’t allow you to sleep until it is achieved. We have to decide whether “Sehati Sejiwa” will be a dream in our sleep or one that won’t allow us to rest until it is achieved!
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