IN her opening remarks at the International Conference on Teacher Education in the Muslim World 2013, Prof Datuk Sri Zaleha Kamaruddin pointed out that internationally, Muslim countries were mostly nowhere to be seen.
“In the trend of national mathematics and science, no Muslim country was among the top ten. In the progress of international students assessment (PISA), only two Muslim countries have appeared in the top 50, i.e. Turkey and UEA”.
Thus she proposed that we start somewhere, regardless the challenges we are facing. And she strongly believed that teachers play urgent roles in changing society.
Why should we focus on teachers and education? Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in delivering his keynote address, highlighted several challenges and how to overcome them.
Education, according to Tun “is about imparting knowledge in children and young people” so that they know how to live a good life later on.
Sadly, today’s education system and teachers focus on teaching to pass examinations only and neglect students’ character. Parents on the other hand are busy with their work and cannot spend quality time with their children.
While many employers seek graduates of good knowledge as well as of good character, how can students find employment then?
Tun urged us to learn from Korea and Japan in ensuring the success of a nation.
They can compete globally despite the great obstacles they had gone through, i.e. war and disease. What qualities do they have?
The Japanese people are very disciplined, diligent, loyal, dedicated to work and have a strong sense of shame.
While “the Koreans have a strong work pride in acquiring knowledge and skills as to be able to catch up with other countries, to have pride in their product, and to grow their economy faster than their competitor”.
As to redesign the pedagogy, Tun proposed to put more stress on character building in instilling good values and ethics.
Where to begin? It should begin with the training of teachers.
The next move is to give sufficient time for moral and religious teaching in schools. This might need the curriculum content being re-examined to get the best outcome.
And more importantly, students should be equipped with a good command of today’s language of knowledge, which happens to be English. It is the language of industry that benefits students. Here Tun once again urged the use English in teaching mathematics and science.
At the end, Tun questioned what is true nationalism. Is it to be able to speak the national language well? This is the wrong answer.
“Nationalism is about being successful in all fields of life, being able to contribute to the global world and the development of countries, being respected and admired by others, being the best in whatever field we enter and being able to stand proud. That is true nationalism”.
We hope that everyone can play their roles accordingly in educating the future generations.
This is not only the teachers’ responsibility alone, nor the Government’s. The first education is started within a family.
Ahmad Faizuddin Gombak Selangor The Star Online Opinion 21/11/2013