LoyarBurok occasionally republishes interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. This article was originally published on Rickard’s blog.
Education is something that is very close to Lord Bobo’s furry heart, and honest, open discussions about ways of improving the Malaysian education system are desperately needed. Do share your views in the comments section below.
I have lived in Malaysia for a couple of years now, and am getting reasonably used to it. But some things keep boggling my mind, and today was one of those days.
We went to a “academic information day” at my step-sons school, the St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur, to be informed by the principal and teachers about their mission and vision, and how they intend to make our children and students into excellent academic achievers.
However, what I got instead (in the one hour I could muster before I had to leave, my bullshit-meter being completely off the charts), was the most highly condensed delivery of pathological, paramoralistic, delusional, and sadistic nonsense I’ve ever heard. And I’ve been to the school before, so I had some idea of what to expect.
Since we know from experience that when we as parents voice concerns our children get punished, let me be perfectly clear: we have no concerns. This school is great. Our son is learning things that he could never learn in any other place, other than possibly a mental asylum, which we deeply appreciate. When he leaves St John’s he will know everything about dick-fu, and other such useful skills, necessary to combat real life in full force.
Instead of boring you with the nitty gritty details of what was delivered, here’s sort of my conclusion of it all, from four different perspectives.
You know how we look at Malaysia as a third world country, full of uneducated and low-cost labour? Based on what I have seen and heard today, that is ensured to continue for at least one more generation, so you can use Malaysia for this purpose, as you have in the past. No change at all. Malaysians graduating from these kinds of institutions, like the current prime minister for example, are guaranteed to not ask any questions, not think for themselves, and not question corporate policies, of any sort. If you need to keep your employees in a box, and have predictable outcome based on what you tell them to do, Malaysians are for you!
If you have a child at St John’s, they are guaranteed to learn such useful skills as bullying, brown nosing, cheating, and more, fully endorsed by the school’s policies. The statements from the principal and discipline teacher today on how they view students and their interactions makes me confident that this will happen, predictably. It always does. If you want your children to gain creative and critical thinking skills, communication skills, problem solving skills, and any such things, this school is not for you. If you want them to learn how to cheat maximally at tests to get A’s, without getting caught, since that is a very valuable skill in real life, then this place is what you want!
For residents of Malaysia:
You know how some of the politicians out of St John’s can’t seem to understand the difference between right and wrong? How they tend to use language to make you feel bad for something you didn’t do? Well, turns out they are not really “bad apples”, they are just doing what they have been trained and educated to do. You wanna be angry at anyone, be angry at the governors of this school, for allowing it to degrade into this mess. Or maybe this is what they want? Who knows!
For employers in Malaysia:
If you are looking for highly skilled employees that can think for themselves and solve problems without having to ask you all the time for guidance, Johannians are not for you. They simply wouldn’t know what you are talking about, as any such concepts have been kept far away from them. If instead you want another braindead foghead to use as the office servant, then this place offers the best that there is. Just watch out during the performance reviews, because these guys have been trained to fake those A’s as best they can, and you bet they are going to try and do the same with you. You have been warned.
What Malaysian companies say
And it seems I’m not alone in making these observations. From The Star:
KUALA LUMPUR: Graduates emerging from the national education system are failing to meet the expectations of prospective employers due to a lack of critical thinking skills and poor communication.
This has resulted in employers having to provide additional training to fit them into their respective job scopes while many graduates have to accept employment that does not correspond with their qualifications.
Malaysian-based education, human resource and recruitment consultants feel there is a need for a sound foundation in critical thinking to be incorporated into the education system to prepare future generations for the employment market.
The above is exactly what I have noticed. Not only are the students not taught critical thinking, they are actively punished if they try, at least at St. Johns. So it would seem that rather than being an isolated case, this is indeed a systemic problem.
There is a ton of reasons for this, as I have found out talking to other parents, ex-teachers, principals, journalists, and more. It all starts however with the policies of the Ministry of Education (which is such an awesome doublespeak name, as it is anything but), which then filters down to principals, some of which are well-intended but tied down, which then filters down to teachers, and finally our poor students that have to put up with this nonsense.
In the end, all of Malaysia gets to see the effect as outlined in the article, with graduates coming out having no useful skills whatsoever that applies to successfully performing any real job. Which, in the end, will indeed ensure that Malaysia will stay a third world country for a long time, no matter what the politicians say. ’tis sad.
Rickard has also written a comprehensive 3-part follow-up to this post, which will also be republished on LoyarBurok in the coming week. Part 1 will outline in more detail why the Malaysian education system doesn’t work. Part 2 will discuss systemic evil in the education system. Part 3 will consider knowledge and understanding.