Proposals for Reformation on Malaysian Education System
Nowadays, education reformation has become one of the important components in the national policy development especially for the long run planning in a country. Such adjustment is necessary to be emphasized and actively implemented especially to suit the aspiration of the nation especially in realizing a new working structure in the country and to meet the future challenge globally. Education reformation between countries may be different due to the characteristics of the nation, political and socio-economic establishment within one state.
In the case of Malaysia, the educational system is designed in a sense to create a united, democratic, just, liberal and progressive society. The reinvention of curriculum is designed to ensure that the national policy and education philosophy will always be preserved. Hence, any kind of proposals on reforming education system has to be justifiable within the scope of the main vision of the country; in another word, the national policy. In Malaysia, the nation is multi ethnic; therefore, any recommendation is carefully studied just to ensure that major satisfaction among races is achieved and this is definitely not an easy task. One way to collaborate is to proceed along the line with the vision of the country that has already been accepted by the whole nation.
For any proposal to improve the education system, a clear understanding on the current national policy is vital. Vision 2020 was initiated by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian Prime Minister, on February 28, 1991 and since then it has become a major guideline for any policy formulation in the country, not excluding the education policy. The basic aim of this vision is to create a "developed Malaysia" by the year 2020. It will cover overall achievement in term of national unity, social integration, economic standard, social justice, political stability and improving the quality of life, both in the social and spiritual aspects as well as in instilling pride and confidence of the nation. The future nation has to be more experienced and mature society. It also emphasizes the essence of creating a progressive society with highly scientific and technological achievement and these all require quality human resources with a base of quality education system. The question now is how to harmonize and coordinate the education system that will suit such demands. Therefore, this paper will briefly propose certain reformations in the school structure, curriculums, teaching techniques and pupilís career development in relation to real working life at current and future demands.
First Proposal: Review the School Structure
First proposal is to review the school structure at the primary and secondary level. As mention in the first paper, there are four types of schools at the primary level: National School for all races, National type C for Chinese, National type T for the Indian and Special School. Such structure has to be refined into smaller category such as having only National School and special school in order to foster a national unity. By reducing the types of school, pupils from all races will be allocated into one integrated education system that will enable them to understand closely and respect more on each other cultures and values. In addition, this will also provide opportunity for the new generation to appreciate on preserving the harmonious nation and therefore introduce a new culture of solidarity. National language (Malay language) will be effectively enforced but this does not mean that the native language of certain races will be ignored. Special language class (extra session) for Chinese and Indian will still be upheld in the curriculum. At the secondary school level, the type of school should also be reduced or merged into few categories such as first, Regular and Fully Residential; second, Vocational and Technical; third, Religious; and forth, Special School. Social integration and shared value on education skill will be more flexible among students. They will be more versatile on sharing education experience and this will enable individuals to enrich their knowledge tremendously although they take different curriculums. These "school merger" concept will make the new school leaver in the future more mature by having various understanding on academic shared value in different field. In addition, it will also give wider opportunity to democratize education among student regardless to their social status either in rural or urban area.
Second Proposal: Improve Learning Environment
Second proposal concerns the characteristics of the learning environment. Learning environment in most of the school should be thoroughly revised in term of class capacity. The size of the students in a class needs to be reduced to a smaller number for instance 20 pupils per class. At present, the ratio between teacher and student is roughly about 1:20 and this has become the recent aim. However, based on the student per class, the ratio is exceeding 30 students roughly. This is not representative to the acceptable kind of learning environment. Teaching will be more focus if the number of pupils is smaller in one class. This will guarantee the quality of education and teacher will be able to monitor closely on performance for every pupil in her class. Besides that, students can have more close relationship among themselves. Therefore, classes have to be added by building more schools not only in urban but also rural area to correlate with the above-mentioned concept.
Third Proposal: Revise the Education Curriculum
Third proposal concerns upon revision on the education curriculum at primary and secondary level. The existing curriculum does not entirely guarantee a future progressive society in term of being innovative and creative especially in the science and technological field. In fact, these special traits are the essential component to create a developed nation as highlighted in the Vision 2020. At present, the secondary school leavers are more favorable to take social art courses at the higher institution. Statistically, in 1995, the social art base scholars at the higher institution is 43,610. Those who enrolled in science base courses are 22,290 and technical base courses are 13,430. One reason for this is because they are not well exposed upon its importance. A new set of curriculum has to be introduced especially to encourage participation in the innovative and creative programs. The science base subject has to be designed in more attractive manner. One instance is that the course should require each student (in all types of school) to form up groups to produce a final science related project at the end of the secondary years (supervised by teacher). This program may be identified as Vision Group Program and reward should be given to the excellent outcome.
Fourth Proposal: Emphasize Application on Information Technology Facilities
Fourth proposal gives more emphasis on the application of information technology facilities in the school. Information technology should be more diversified. Computer literacy classes have to be expanded in all schools and facilities has to be provided and upgraded in line to the recent technological advances. The Smart School concept in Malaysia can also be redesigned in adapting to the other existing school. Smart School is not for smartest student but it stresses on its smart ways of ensuring that every student stretches to his full potential in a way that it is best suited to his learning pace and style. The curriculum will therefore recognize that the students have different learning needs. Here, the students will play as active learners. They will nurture skills on creative problem solving with the help of capability on manipulating information resources. Data collection will be served through database networking. This school also will incorporate the innovative concept of the virtual express class. This will allow fast learners to complete all coursework sooner than the normal duration. Changing environment after reaching competency at certain level is a smart way to maintain innovative skills. As for the slow learners, they will undergo a thinner program and proceed at a slower pace to ensure that more focused attention will be given by the teacher. To facilitate this, the school provides a centralized on-line delivery of assessment system. The system allows the student in a physical class to work at different levels in the same subject as well as to allow him to progress in a different subject at any given time. In such instance, the student will be guaranteed the attention they deserved. Therefore, ways of teaching have to be diversified too in a sense that teachers will now play the role of "a guide on the side" rather than a traditional way "the sage on the stage".
Fifth Proposal: Improve Teaching Techniques
Fifth proposal will touch on teaching techniques. One method is by implementing through Education Media Services that provides not only education television and radio program but also supply audio visual aids as well as education technological services. Distance learning can adopt a new way of teaching style via video conferencing. Schools also should have a kind of network among themselves for education purposes. The expansion of existing network such as School Resource Center is therefore required.
Sixth Proposal: Emphasize Moral and Ethical Education
Sixth proposal will elaborate on moral and ethical education. Advancement on science and technology knowledge should be balanced with moral and ethical values. It is wiser to implement a kind of teaching as conducted in the religious school where the management upholds a one-day education session. Normal education will be taught in the morning session while the religious thought will be conducted in the evening. As for the non-Muslims, they can enroll in a moral and ethical education class. By doing so, this can prevent pupils from involving to certain unwanted event after school where such depreciation of morality among youngster is so transparent nowadays. The education system should guarantee the future generation to be highly moral, knowledgeable and skilful.
Seventh Proposal: Introduce Experienced Based Education
Seventh proposal will concentrate on experienced base education. Quality education does not mean that it has to be conducted in the manner of academic way of presentation. Sharing values of the real life experiences are considered crucial to expose students in preparing themselves to meet the future challenges. A clear picture about the real life will enable students to reaffirm his alternatives to choose a right career. Career development program should be enforced effectively especially at the secondary level. Government should urge private sectors to play a major role in this program. Experienced workers and ex-students should engage with the students within reasonable contact hours to highlight the essence of education in connection to the real world. By doing do, students will start appreciate the value of education in their life. This program should be gradually maintained and monitored closely by the school management. Field trips should be part of the school activities and it should not be made on voluntary basis.
Eighth Proposal: Reform Higher Institution Education Development
Eighth proposal relates to the higher institution development. The government should encourage establishment of the science and technological courses. Private sectorís investment in education should be widely encouraged after the implementation of the Private Higher Institution Education Act, 1996. Public Universities should now transform to be more independent after College and University Act, 1995 being amended to ensure higher quality education is maintained. These new trends will also help the government to overcome vast applications from the secondary school leavers to enter higher institution. Certain existing private higher learning institutions should consider themselves to be franchised in strengthening their capability to deliver full program and producing more skill manpower for the future. Public and private higher institution needs also to play larger role in research and development activities and become a backbone for science and technological advancement to the country. Multimedia infrastructure in the university should be adjusted to the new role of information age as being seriously conducted under the government project such as Multimedia Super Corridor. Besides that, higher institution should now introduces new fields of study related to aerospace, communication technology, biotechnology, and other advanced technologies that would keep up to the pace of technological development around the world.
In conclusion, although these proposals seem to revolutionize the education system in total, there will be more benefit to the nation as a whole and such efforts can realize the countryís vision to be developed by the year 2020. These so-called education visions will generate innovation and productivity in the school and the higher institution education and also the management system to produce culture of lateral thinking inculcation with the future culture of excellence.
Azman Mohd. Yusof
Graduate School of Policy Science, Saitama University
January 8, 1998