Thursday, March 29, 2012

Being Human, Humane, Humaneness, Humankind-redspirit

Beyond the 'Dong Zong issue'
by Azly Rahman
in Malaysiakini

I read with interest about ongoing governmental discrimination against Chinese schools, as highlighted by Dong Zong.

Why are quality teachers and an abundance of resources still channeled only to Malay-dominated schools? Why are children in Chinese schools criminalised by the ‘sanction on teaching staff” which will ultimately deprive students of a good mother-tongue education?

dong zong chinese school 325 protest 250312What actually is our illness with regard to denial of the students’ right to their own language? Do policy makers actually understand the relationship between culture, cognition, consciousness and citizenship?

What does nationalism mean these days, and how do we understand it vis-a-viz use of language in schools? Whose brand of nationalism is being made dominant and what should an inclusive one look like?
What is the real issue behind the age-old request for the Chinese schools to have more teachers? How are the children criminalised by all this? Where is the peaceful path to this gentle profession called education?

When I think of education, I think of the children first and foremost. I think of each child as a gift brought into this world in all his/her cultural and cognitive complexities and of the pride of the family raising the child independent of what the ‘state’ wants the child to become.

Schooling is a process of mass babysitting in a capitalist state, such that the child will be provided a place for eight hours a days, seven days a week, to be taken care of, like in a kibbutz, while the parents go to work, selling their labour to the state.

azlanThe child is supposed to behave and learn new things while the parents are supposed to be obedient and, as good workers, bring profit to the state. The state, through its apparatuses, uses the profits and products of ‘alienated labour’ of  parents/workers and ‘develops’ the country according to what the political and economic elite imagines what ‘development’ means.

The child gets to be socialised to become citizens of the state. The mass baby-sitting agencies called public, private or parochial schools, tended by ‘managers of virtue’ called teachers - and wardens’ in boarding schools.
Their role is to ensure that the child learns to become nationalistic or even ‘patriotic’ in accordance to what this means vis-a-viz state ideology. In Malaysia, the current ideology is perhaps called ‘1Malaysia’.

Polarised education system
Are schools a happy place for the child? How shall the child be moulded? What language will he/she be proficient in? Whose culture will he/she inherit? In Malaysia, will it be the culture of the Malays? Or a hybrid of the Malay-Muslim culture? Who defines what will be it in the best interests of the child?

What actually is Malaysia's philosophy of education in this age and time of growing restlessness demanding for radical change, inclusiveness, linguistic diversity and competency, and the demands of a globalised world?

dong zong chinese school 325 protest 
250312Why not let the child be schooled well first in his/her mother-tongue to develop cultural pride, and next let the medium of instruction at the secondary level be in English primarily?

Why not teach even the subject of Islamic Studies and Moral Education in English, and next prepare the child well for tertiary education that is predominantly English-speaking, with courses such as Philosophy, Ethics, and Cultural Studies as compulsory first-year subjects?

Malaysians: Let us not be dishonest, ignorant or hypocritical in the way we design the best cultural and cognitive environment for the child to grow up to become world-wise and productive citizens. As it is now, Malaysia's education system is polarising and inspired by the apartheid system.

The products of the Malaysian educational system have for several batches passed through the conveyor belt. The issue of race relations has become more and more exacerbated, partly as a consequence of the inability of the education policy makers to design peaceful educational settings and peaceable learning environments to allow respect and appreciation for each other’s culture to flourish.

NONEPublic discourse is becoming more plagued with calls by this or that racist-fascist groups in defence of the bankrupt and morally and nationally bankrupting ideology of Ketuanan Melayu or ‘pseudo-Malay idiotic pride’ as I would translate it.

Has there been any effort by the Education Ministry to design and implement a curriculum on multicultural education? Has there been an interest in it at all, given the nature of Malaysia’s communal politics that has evolved into the state of ethno-psychopathology bordering on irrationality, greed and massive corruption?

As an educator involved in the teaching of cultural perspectives, philosophy, and education, I’d like to see children in Malaysian schools bring their culture with pride into the classroom, to be shared with others in a deeply engaging creative learning context.

This is so that we bring in what the philosopher Charles Taylor would call the “ethics of authenticity” - of the ethical traditions of culture - into the learning process and not have these young curious cultural minds evolve into become ‘knockers or boosters’ of this or that brand of ultra-ethnocentrism.

Let us see how the Education Ministry will resolve this Dong Zong issue once and for all, before another regime takes this important  task more seriously.

DR AZLY RAHMAN, who was born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York) doctorate in International Education Development and Master’s degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 300 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience spans Malaysia and the United States, over a wide range of subjects from elementary to graduate education. He currently resides in the United States.


ronnie said...

Thank you for this posting

ronnie said...

Thank you for this posting

solomon said...

Greed need to separate the smart one and unsmart one, such that the latter group can continue to work under the smart one.

Sigh....the next generation might be kakak or bang (maid) in other countries?? Watching people eating sushi, while they take care of their employer kids.

ronnie said...

What is your take on the arrests of the directors of Sun Hung Kai?

victor said...

Fear is more the appropriate word

As the society matures, Society learns the power dominion. With this also brings along Fear.

Politician uses this Fear and control the simple minds, to hold on to power.

So we must not let them control us. We must not be afraid to voice out. But we are also a patient,hard working, independent society,

victor said...

Fear is more the appropriate word

As the society matures, Society learns the power dominion. With this also brings along Fear.

Politician uses this Fear and control the simple minds, to hold on to power.

So we must not let them control us. We must not be afraid to voice out. But we are also a patient,hard working, independent society,

Lord Helmchem said...

By just looking at one country's education system, you can straight away tell whether it is an advanced or third world country.


robertan said...

Always at a loss as how to describe Mamakhatir's 'Malaysia Boleh' sloganeering. Finally Dr. Azlys Rahman's very apt 'pseudo Malay idiotic pride' description. I just wish those foaming-in-the-mouth'tuan melayu' understand what is shame when it is obvious to all that 50 years of racial engineering has developed a 'failed race'.

lmenwe said...

Sun Hung Kai's boss was arrested! Kudos for ICAC but when will this happen in Malaysia? When will MACC act like ICAC?

wongty robert said...

If the present UMNO-BN government has ever thought of and care for the future generations of Malaysians, Malaysians today would have been one of the most valuable product in Asia. Just look around, which country in Asia is as versatile as Malaysians if the education system was allowed to flourish instead of being moulded and controlled by a few narrow-minded politicians!

Andrew said...

An interesting article, one that can only be written by a Malay residing outside Malaysia!!

The ones in the country cannot and will not think as such because they have a feeling of superiority and the need to fully control the people. Although I see the need for Bahasa Malaysia, the importance the MOE places it over English and Mandarin is not logical because it is only a medium used inside Malaysia alone and no where else.

I strongly believe that the present Government will not move its feet on this issue and it will drag on for another 50 years for all they care. Just imagine, the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) held by Chinese-medium schools is not recognizable in its own country but is highly recognized all over the world. Talk about brain drain. Hello, TalentCorp??

Andrew said...

Interestingly, I read in the papers today that our Education Minister laid claim that our education system is one of the best in the world, even better than that of US, UK and Germany.

Wonder if he needs reading glasses or perhaps he jumbled up the numbers. He's not dyslexic is he?

Kumar G said...

It reminds me the man's treatment towards animals and disrespectful toward others class of people like lower animals group. It is the moral progress of nation. The lacking cognitive perspective is dominated by psychological perspective. This formula & theory will never go wrong!