Science and technology may have helped mankind to advance exponentially in the last few decades, but in difficult times like the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be seen that basic life skills and survival instincts play important roles.
One way to implant and inculcate good life skills and practices is through education. Family upbringing also plays an important part in making one cultivate good life skills and practices.
But considering that parents do not spend much time with their children nowadays, moulding a child to be a holistic individual is now the responsibility of teachers and the school.
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, Malaysians were vehemently debating the different approaches to a holistic education system that would be appropriate for a multiracial country like ours.
One subject that I would like to highlight is Design and Technology. This subject has gone through many changes in name and content of the syllabus. It started off as Industrial Arts and Domestic Science before being changed to Living Skills and now its present name.
Design and Technology is now more geared towards the frantic pursuit and acquisition of IR4.0 digital knowledge and has lost all the elements in the development of life skills.
Gone are the days when students were taught how to cook and learn basic technical skills such as changing an electric plug, troubleshooting a faulty fluorescent lamp, changing the rubber washer in a leaking tap head and many more. Sewing was also taught to the boys then. Sewing skills would be handy now to make face masks and PPE (pic). All of these are survival skills in times of lockdowns and crises.
Every day, I see delivery boys sending lunch and dinner to residents in a condominium block near my house. If cooking had been taught to those residents when they were in school, I am sure they would prefer to cook their own food in this lockdown period. Home-cooked food is more nutritious and healthy and would help to strengthen the immune system. The delivery boys can still be employed to deliver groceries and other things.
Now is the appropriate time to review Design and Technology to revamp and fine-tune it to suit our times, including incorporating elements of life skills into the syllabus. There is nothing wrong in bringing back some good components of the old syllabus.
It would be a good thing to possess life skills, especially at times like this. We would be able to put food on the table and also look after our basic needs to stay healthy and less stressed.
KHOO KOK HEONG
Bukit Gelugur, Penang
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