Issues and Ideas in Education for the New Malaysia asks the questions that the government does not want to ask, does not care to ask, and does not even know how to ask about the ways in which our schools, universities and religious institutions must readdress the issue of education in a global and fast-changing world where the old order of work, play, learn and communicate has vastly changed. The social, economic, religious and political problems of the present can be traced entirely to our education system. The way our schools, universities and religious institutions managed education expired 30 years ago, and we, therefore, need a new perspective for our country to move into the future and into the global market.
Our education was premised on the production of workers as ‘tools’ to man the industry that would produce rapid growth. We have excelled at producing workers through our education industry, and they find themselves placed in a world of communication technology, ill-equipped to deal with technological, political and social changes. The old social, political and religious narratives that served as the foundation for the education constructs in the past must now change into a more inclusive, tolerant and exploratory construct in order to create real intelligence and innovation that drives the entrepreneurship of ideas as well as social and political revolution.
The book is an edifying read for Malaysians who are concerned about the country’s stability and national unity. It deals with education policies and practices which many feel are not right, but which are too sensitive to raise in public. Many are also deterred from speaking out due to threats from the draconian laws on freedom of expression, especially when the discussion is related to matters of race and religion. The articles in this book have been written by a university professor who raises the question that all Malaysians are asking: is the education system moulding the young to grow up to believe in multiculturalism and practise it as our way of life? The author is blunt and fearless in stating that both in schools and in universities, teachers and lecturers have failed in their duty to inculcate in their students the values of multiculturalism, tolerance, and moderation.
The author points out that the school textbooks and curriculum content carry too much emphasis on the Malay and Islamic historical origin of the country; with a merely scant mention of the influence of other races and religions on the social and cultural heritage of our nation and their contributions in turning the Malay states into a modern country through their commercial and industrial businesses. He complains that the teaching profession has not paid enough attention to nation-building. He accuses the teachers at schools and universities of neglecting their primary role as educators.
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