THE Preliminary Report of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 is indeed comprehensive, well-researched and generally sound. Nevertheless, as in any report, there are always areas for improvement.
First, with regards to the key attributes needed by every student to be globally competitive, it is rather surprising that no mention is made at all about self-esteem, achievement orientation and self-awareness.
Self-esteem is a prerequisite for productive behaviour in general. In the words of author D.C. Briggs, “Self-esteem is the mainspring that slates every child for success or failure as a human being.”
The blueprint also acknowledges the importance of soft skills but focuses only on leadership, communication skills, emotional intelligence and thinking skills.
We need an explicit soft skills framework which also encompasses achievement orientation, a strong work ethic (initiative, integrity, reliability, diligence), planning and organising skills and personal presentation.
It is interesting to note that based upon a questionnaire survey that I conducted in 2007 together with Wahab Bakar, leadership was only rated as the 15th most important soft skill sought by Malaysian employers in fresh university graduates.
The top five were integrity, willingness to learn, communication skills, initiative and achievement orientation. This is also true of numerous studies conducted in Canada, the United States and Australia.
There is also a need to include Learning Skills and Personal Development Planning in the curriculum
Most importantly, the Education Ministry should “walk its talk”. No amount of educational reforms will bring about the desired outcomes if we do not truly practise meritocracy in terms of hiring competent and passionate teachers, and high-performing school heads.
It is just as important that schools need to have a high-performance school culture committed to excellence and continuous improvement.
DR RANJIT SINGH MALHI The STAR Online Home Education Sunday October 7, 2012