Friday, July 06, 2007

National Education Blueprint

National Education Blueprint – Let’s produce smart teachers

I refer to the report “A quarter of projects resolved” (Star July 4).

In the first progress report on the National Education Blueprint 2006-2010, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein proudly announced that More than 27% or 4,639 education-related infrastructure projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) have either been completed or are being implemented and the other 12,096 projects were at the planning stage.

It is encouraging that the government has taken great pains to improve the education system by allocating a huge sum of RM23bil for the various development projects to upgrade our schools.The Minister’s plans to give priority to rural schools should also be commended.

The highlights of the plan as revealed are 1.Narrowing the education gap 2.accelerating education excellence 3.Making schools smart and ICT initiatives 4.Strengthning the teaching profession and 5.Developing the human capital.

While all these are ideals and need our support for their success, we should not overlook the single most important factor that is vital for producing students with the right values, knowledge and skills that would make them not just successful but useful citizens in the future.This is the only way to rid of all the ills that plague our nation today.

This factor is the teacher-student relationship. The role of the teacher on the ground is the most important factor that contributes to the success of our education. Every effort should be made to cultivate a healthy teacher-student relationship as this is the basic unit for character building in our young school children.

We may spend billions of ringgit to build modern state of art schools. We may be able to equip them with all the sophisticated gadgets and facilities but if we do not have the proper teacher-student interaction, all our efforts will go to waste.

To cultivate such a favourable relationship between teachers and students we need teachers with a more professional attitude to their job, based on ethics and not sentiments and emotions. Apart from parents, the teacher is the next most important person who has the opportunity to develop and mold the character of our children, who are in their custody from a very young age.

Our children today are plagued with numerous problems – indiscipline, drug abuse, disrespect for elders and authority, truancy,Mat Rempit,violent behaviour,immoral and promiscuous activities. Most of these vicious behaviour have their origin in an uncaring and indifferent attitude of teachers towards their students, resulting in a poor teacher-student relationship. It is not uncommon these days for students to be absent from school for days at a stretch without being noticed by the teacher.

I still remember as children in the sixties and seventies, there were many teachers whom we idolized. We admired the way they carried out their duties impartially and the great passion they had in teaching and guiding us. Many among us opted to be teachers ourselves because of their exemplary behavior. It is a great pity that our children today hardly have teachers whom they can look up to as role models.

I agree times have changed and life has become more materialistic. We have succeeded in developing the nation to great heights physically. Sadly instead of holding steadfast to cherished values and principles, we have lost them all in the name of development and nation building.

It is time to re-examine the basic functional unit of our education system – the attitude and performance of our teachers in their interaction with their pupils. Let us look at it rationally and recognize the flaws therein and take appropriate steps to remedy it.

What we are in dire need is not excellent and sophisticated infrastructure in the form of smart schools, vision schools or cluster schools but rather SMART teachers and headmasters to guide our children.

Dr.Chris Anthony


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