The crucial role of education in liberating citizens is encapsulated in the wisdom of the Greek philosopher Epictetus (Discourses): “Only the educated are free!” Having been born a slave, he knew a thing or two about freedom.
Teachers are liberators. No surprise that I have a high regard for them, quite apart from the fact that both my parents were teachers. Consider that as a physician, the best that I could do is to return my patients to their pre-illness state. With a good teacher, there would be no limit to the achievements of her students.
Munshi Abdullah wrote, “Antara mereka yang berguru dan mereka yang meniru, jauh beza-nya!” (Between those who are taught and those who parrot, is a vast difference!) Those who parrot could only repeat after you; those who are taught, and taught well, chart their own course.Others can then follow in their path.
We treat young minds as dustbins to be filled with dogmas. That is not the path towards excellence and greatness, for them or Malaysia. The system indoctrinates rather than educate; entraps rather than liberate young minds, producing citizens who are neither adil nor soleh.–Dr. M Bakri Musa
In his Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) Pramoedya wrote, “Seorang terpelajar harus sudah berbuat adil sejak dalam fikiran apalagi dalam perbuatan.” (An educated person must be just, first in his thoughts and then in his deeds.)
That should be the objective of education, to produce adil (just) citizens and leaders. Islamic education strives for an additional goal, to produce citizens who are soleh, roughly translated as being “good” or useful to society.
Not everyone accepts the value of education, or that all systems of education confer the same benefits. In Brunei, they do not believe in educating their people. That would only make them uppity, dissatisfied, and arrogant. They would then rebel, as Azahari did in 1962.
If you have enough petrodollars you can bribe or lull your people into submission,but do not expect greatness from them. Think of what would happen when those petrodollars dry up, as inevitably they would. Sometimes you do not have to wait that long; look at Tunisia today.
There was a time when Malay parents too did not believe in education especially for girls. Educate them and they would leave and then marry someone outside the village. Who would take care of you in your old age? Today, we worry about the lack of male Malay undergraduates. Who says we cannot change culture?
Malaysia’s Minister of Education–No wonder Malaysian Education is Indoctrination, not Liberation
Those benefits of education are true with one major caveat. Where indoctrination masquerades as education, then the less formal education you have the better. That is the case in Malaysia, and with Malays to be specific. Malaysian teachers treat their students as dustbins to be filled with dogmas, rather than as knives to be sharpened, borrowing Munshi Abdullah’s metaphor. This is especially true with religious education.
With a bin, all you could possibly get out is what you put in, nothing beyond. With a sharp knife, the possibilities are limitless. To a butcher, a sharp knife brings meat to the table; to the sculptor, an exquisite work of art; and to a surgeon, a tool to cure cancer. To a thug however, it is but a lethal weapon; hence the need to focus on the “just” (adil) as well as “good” (soleh) in matters educational.
Between these Prime two Ministers with Abdullah Badawi in the Middle have now have world class education. Talk is cheap
Malaysian education suffers from three crippling deficiencies: environment, content, and philosophy.
Malaysian schools and universities are increasingly segregated along race. That is not a healthy learning or social environment. It is also not good for the future of the nation as that breeds intolerance among the young that would only become worse when they become adults.
Content-wise, Malaysian schools and universities do not equip the young with the necessary tools to enable them to think critically, compete and be productive citizens.
We treat young minds as dustbins to be filled with dogmas. That is not the path towards excellence and greatness, for them or Malaysia. The system indoctrinates rather than educate; entraps rather than liberate young minds, producing citizens who are neither adil nor soleh.
In addressing these bewildering problems, Malaysian educators and leaders ignore the simple inexpensive yet effective models of the British colonials preferring instead the showy, expensive, but ineffective solutions.
WRITER BAKRI M.MUSA