There was a letter published in the Star last Friday entitled "The Value of Education". It was written by Datin T. D. Ampikaipakan, where she lamented on the state of education in Malaysia today which apparently fails to focus on "values".
When I was in school, I had no clue that I was an Indian and my dearest friends were Chinese and Malays. Our teachers never made any reference to our race. It was always what we could do. When we held concerts in school, I was often a participant in the Malay dances and the others practised Indian and Chinese dances. There was never a time when we segregated ourselves and that has been the practice in my home.Although I was never appointed to leadership positions by teachers (I think I had a problem with teachers) in primary and secondary schools as Datin Ampikaipakan has pointed out in her letter as the means to be "taught leadership skills from an early age", I was personally (hyper) active in school activities from sports to non-sports activities.
What is the story now? Are we now becoming a nation that is bankrupt of values?
I took part in Malay quiz competitions, Malay language debates in primary and secondary schools (even won best speaker once!) and participated in dikir barat performances during my 'A' Levels (I was the only Chinese in the contingent). The experience has definitely shaped my perspectives on education today and its reflected in my writings, for example, my posts here and here.
However, back to Datin Ampikaipakan's letter. I was rather tickled by one of her examples of "bankrupt values" in Malaysia:
...the Yang Berhormats have a lot of salvaging to do with regard to their dignity in and out of Parliament. We need to take strong measures to send the message home. If we punish schoolchildren for bad behaviour, our YBs need some censure to shape them up. It should be possible to insist that only people who learn and practise good manners are allowed to stand for public office. Some feel that if you want to make a point you must be rude, arrogant and obnoxious.
[Update] Even Marina Mahathir appears to have the same thoughts as she wrote in her "Musings" column in the Star on Wednesday. She wrote about ten things which peeves her the most particularly in the past year, of which at no. 8, we have her asking:
Can't we have basic IQ tests for MPs? How about one standard test for when they become MPs, and then an even higher one if they get made Ministers? I shudder at the thought of any of them meeeting any foreigners! I'd just like to go through a year without having to feel embarrassed.
Well, it appears that the Malaysian education system not only needs to take care of school-going children, but also the YBs too. Maybe, it's time for the YBs to take the "Whip" more seriously. :-)