EDUCATION BLUEPRINT: Take ownership to ensure its successful implementation
AS we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia tomorrow, the Education Blueprint 2013-2025, launched on Sept 6 by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, is the most appropriate "gift" for Malaysians.
The reason is simple -- education is the foundation of a successful nation and is also a unifying factor as it is the "leveller of society".
A country can move forward unhindered with even greater understanding among its citizenry based on education.
The blueprint is, in essence, a shared vision of a future Malaysia inspired by citizens from all walks of life who have offered ideas and opinions, as well as hopes for it. Such an extensive exercise in garnering broad-based views from Malaysians concerning a matter as crucial as education is rare.
At the launch of the blueprint, Muhyiddin said it would be a catalyst for a comprehensive transformation of Malaysia's education system to produce a generation of well-rounded pupil and educators.
This must translate into a new group of citizens who are not only knowledgeable but also bilingually proficient and well grounded in ethics and spirituality, as well as display leadership and the capacity to think on their feet.
All these are encapsulated in a single national identity that we can be proud of as Malaysians, without being distracted by the narrowness of ethnoreligious consideration that is mostly rooted in increasing socio-economic disparities.
It is not a coincidence that these characteristics form the new student's aspirations as the blueprint had envisaged.
There is a challenging task ahead but it is not impossible because vital stakeholders and players have been roped in systematically.
For example, perhaps for the first time, parents and community members can "own" a school with greater opportunities for engagement and empowerment, not just through the Parent-Teacher Association but also other creative means as provided for by the parental "toolkit".
Different pathways and approaches to education are made more accessible with community support tailor-made for the environment. Gone is the one-size-fits-all formula as education today is inclined to the individual.
As mentioned in my previous article in this column on Trust Schools (Sept 1), this is yet another example of a successful transformation through a public-private partnership that was acknowledged as "extraordinary" by Muhyiddin.
Partners in education can help to create a vibrant learning ecosystem for students and the nation as a whole.
The reality is that education is about change and coping with it. An education system which does not do so has utterly failed in its mission -- so too a system that mindlessly preserves the status quo!
A system that is basically top-down and unduly compliant (with a saya yang menurut perintah mindset) can be an obstacle because it is not challenged to think out of the box, or stretch creative minds to look for more relevant solutions beyond "market logic" to suit the context of the 21st century. Schools will then fail to take discovery and exploratory modes as learning tools into account, which is what education is all about.
It is heartening to note that the blueprint recognises some 11 shifts that must be dealt with to allow for transformation to take place over the 13-year period.
To quote Muhyiddin, the blueprint belongs to the public and it is now humbly "returned" to the public, marking a joint ownership in ensuring its successful implementation.
With the setting up of the Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) as suggested in the blueprint, the implementation will be tracked down to its last detail so that failure is not an option.
Still, the support of all is vital, and any attempt to derail the blueprint due to unfounded prejudices, imagined fear and mistrust is counterproductive, if not irresponsible.
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak The New Straits Times Learning Curve 15 September 2013