Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Visionary Templates

Off and on, the Sun provides some really thought-provoking pieces such as this latest nugget from Halimah Mohd Said on reviving the Vision School concept.

Halimah (Datin?) is worried over growing divisiveness of a national education system trying to accommodate three different streams replete with their very own linguistic and cultural exclusiveness.

(Digressing a bit but perhaps she should also include a fourth stream which has come out strongly over the last few years in the form of the sekolah pondok type of schools, some of which feature integrated syllabus, and offering far more exclusivity than even the vernacular schools can profess to offer.)

I echo Halimah’s thoughts in the urgent need to bring the diverging schools system together and for the time being, it does look that the Vision School concept is the most viable solution we have.

It is important for the children to be allowed to open up and learn the hotch potch in race, religion and culture “real time” rather than what they could theoretically gain from books.

In book form, such differences can come out very cold and technical. Boring is an apt phrase to be used.

Worse still, things come out all black and white with no grayscale allowed perpetuating an “Us and Them” mentality right from the start.

You’d have to wonder why the concept never did gain the kind of wide acceptance and strong political support it should rightly garner given the national unity objective that it carries.

I would venture that the main problem lie with our inability to do away with the racial distinctions of being Chinese, Ibans, Indians, Malays, Muruts, Sikhs etc etc etc instead of identifying ourselves first and foremost as Malaysians.

50 plus years of independence and we still identify our schools on the basis of their purported main language of use: Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

Throw into the mix with the newer streams in Sekolah Tahfiz – with its predominant Islamic-based syllabus – and the elitist community based International schools – predominant English speaking - and we have a potent divisive foundation on racial, linguistic and class lines all set up for the future.

Is this the kind of future we are offering our kids?

It is time that the education reformists take the Vision School concept a step further than the mere sharing of grounds, facilities and resources.

No: the Vision School should be a sharing of ideals and principles.

Not “You”, not “Me”, but “We” as in “We” are in this together.

And the government should not be put off by the wholly Malaysians’ Malaysia philosophy behind this.

For God’s sakes, can we chuck racial politics out the window for once?

God knows the haste in the need to set up the correct foundation before we all go down six feet under and leaving our legacy of a divisive education system for decades to come.

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