Date: 14 September 2012
National identity should foster sense of togetherness, says Navaratnam
THE topic of national identity has not been adequately addressed in the New Education Blueprint 2013-2025 preliminary report, says Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) after a roundtable review of the blueprint yesterday.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) principal research fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, who is also part of Asli, said there was a “major flaw” in the report’s analysis on national unity.
“The report seems to say that vernacular schools are here to stay, but are not being seen as contributing factors to national unity,” Denison said during the discussion at the Malaysian Institute of Management.
His opinion was shared by a majority of members who attended the discussion, as many felt the blueprint would continue the culture of treating vernacular schools as “second class” to national schools.
“What is the purpose of education? Education here should be used to foster national unity,” said Asli director Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam.
Several representatives from mission schools agreed and lamented that financial allocations to such schools were given on a “as and when” basis, without a systematic procedure to provide consistent funding.
Apart from national unity, other topics discussed were the appointment of teachers and school autonomy.
The roundtable agreed that instead of giving more freedom to District Education Department to come up with customised solutions, autonomy should be returned to the head of each school. This was to allow them to carry out their missions for their respective schools.
To ensure that only those who are qualified are selected for the job, the roundtable also felt teachers should be selected through a similar process as how headmasters, headmistresses and principals are appointed.
One of the school teacher who attended the roundtable review said: “In my decades of being a teacher, I know many have been oblivious to all reforms that have been introduced.”
The teacher expressed doubts whether the education system reform would work the way it has been intended to, because teachers were overworked and the blueprint did not do enough to address such concerns.
Among those who were at the discussion yesterday were Parent Action Group for Education (Page) chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, who said the report was a “rebranding of the Education Ministry’s responsibilities.”
Navaratnam, in conclusion, said the opinions voiced would be documented and attached to a report to the Education Ministry by December.
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