Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Foreign schools not the answer

Let’s rebuild our own education

The establishment of Epsom College, Malaysia’s first British-styled boarding school, with a British curriculum taught in English should be applauded as it is seen as a move to improve the education in the country. It would not only provide quality education at an affordable cost to Malaysians but also would open education to the outside world.

However would it would it be the answer to the countless problems that plague our education system which many Malaysians believe is in a deplorable state and needs major revamp. Not only the standard of education has deteriorated over the years but it has also divided the people along ethnic lines. Education had been an easy tool for politicians to further their ambitions.

By inviting such a foreign school, with its own curriculum and English as the medium of instruction, to be established locally we are admitting that our education is not up at par with British education. It may be seen as an admission of the failure of our education system. We seem to be seeking British education which most would admit is far superior to our own.

Why did we then do away with English medium schools? Why did we do away with English as the medium of instruction for science and mathematics? Why did we do away with the time-tested curriculum of the past that was based on the British system? Why did we get rid of all our own British trained teachers?

It is ironical that after eliminating all the British elements in our education for the masses we are again bringing back British education for the selected few who can afford such an education. Would it be fair to have two systems of education, our own one for the masses who cannot afford and another highly acclaimed one who those who can afford?

While bringing in time-tested quality foreign education to our people is good but it is far more important to raise the standard of own education system which we can be proud of and which can reach the majority of Malaysians regardless of their financial capabilities.

We must admit that the British had left us a very good education system which we had ruined by some misguided policies. Instead of building on that system, adapting it to our own needs and making it readily available to every Malaysian child, our standard of education have deteriorated over the last 52years to the extent that we had lost our competitiveness to even our own immediate neighbor. This was revealed in the drop in the international ranking of our universities.

There is an urgent need to address the weaknesses in our education system if we want to regain our edge in the competitive global world. Bringing in world class foreign education for a few elite citizens is not going to do much good. What is needed is locally minted quality education that is freely available to all regardless of their ethnicity and social status.

Education is the most important ingredient for the development of any nation and investing in one such system that is excellent will be the most promising investment for the future of the nation and its people.

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