Do we really need to change the education system?

LETTER | The Malaysian education system has always been considered a system that is not as efficient as the system of all other developed countries.

Even Singapore, our neighboring country, has found a way to make its education system equitable and globally recognized today. So what is wrong with our country? Why is it difficult for us to get the same number of accolades as other countries when it comes to education?

First and foremost, it should be noted that the people of our country are very capable. Malaysians have made inroads during the years of independence, and this is something we hold high and dear.

However, only a fraction of our population has managed to climb high and break free from the very system that claims to “help” the people of this country. So, blaming our students for being lazy and lacking in potential is downright despicable.

As Benjamin Disraeli, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said, “great countries are those that produce great people”.

So why isn’t Malaysia producing enough great students right now?

The question can be answered simply by analyzing how our students perceive and process the way the education system is presented to them.

We encourage students not to be who they want to be. The system focuses on providing a “top class” education for those in the science and business streams versus the arts stream.

The stigma is that students in the arts stream are not as capable as those in science and business streams. It’s not true. By planting this idea in students’ heads, they are pressured to bear the stress of studying things they don’t want.

Who is responsible for this stigma? It is the educators in the schools and even the parents who are not open to the idea of ​​change.

Students should be allowed to express their interests without being downgraded for doing so. Those in the arts should understand that their chances of success and long-term happiness are just as high as those studying to become doctors and engineers.

The government should point this out. Make sure students and parents are aware of the importance of letting their children choose which areas they want to be in.

Moreover, the government should promote all majors equally, proving that being what students want to be is the best way to ensure good grades and a great future.

The second issue that needs to be addressed is the quality of educators.

Recently, a video of a professor mentally, verbally and emotionally abusing a UiTM student went viral. In the video, the professor clearly has a very high opinion of herself. Just because she owns the title “Professor,” she might have thought she had the right to make fun of a student who is going through a lot in these unprecedented times.

However, she not only mocked the particular student, but she mocked the entire B40 community by mentioning how incompetent and lazy these people are. She generalized a fraction of the population simply because a poor student didn’t have the money to buy a laptop, which isn’t as essential as having food on the table.

This recent issue showed us how some educators do more harm than good. Do we expect our students to learn from this behavior? The answer is a definite no.

The B40 community already has a lot on its plate, and being given more stress, especially for students struggling to make ends meet, is simply unfair.

This issue has been discussed for weeks, and other promises have been made by the government. Yet, are these empty promises really the answer to the real mess that resides in our education system?

According to the video that has gone viral, the professor is elderly. Sometimes people assume that old people are the wisest; however this is not entirely true. The reason is that the older generation prefers not to accept change.

It is the same with the political system of our country. By letting the older generation take control of everything, change will never be possible. The same mindset about how things “was” would never lead to any development.

To date, the political situation in Malaysia is very bland. There is no real change that can be visibly and emotionally felt by the people of this country.

When it comes to the education system, problems like the recent one turned to dust after a few weeks. Real change is not necessarily made. The government should therefore focus more on change instead of verbal promises.

For starters, the government could think of a long-term plan for how it wants Malaysia’s future to be.

As we all know by now, the future of this country is in the hands of the younger generation. The long-term plan should be to upgrade the entire education system and change the curriculum to one that will be globally recognized by every nation.

At present, the system is very biased and lacks information. Giving students more freedom to choose and determine how they want their path to be would be a great start to developing independent individuals who are brave enough to fight for Malaysia’s future when the time comes.

On the other hand, the current government must focus on providing quality and equitable education for all. Ensuring that educators have good moral values ​​is essential to ensure that they will not spread negativity to their peers.

Taking the first step of reviewing the performance of Malaysian schools and getting feedback from the students themselves is a good way to ensure the latter.

Every individual, despite differences in race, age, religion and status, has the ability to become the best version of themselves. A nation’s job is to make sure it encourages its people to become just that.

If change is not made today, our country is doomed.


MAHATHIR MOHD RAIS is the head of the Bersatu Segambut division.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.