Monday, October 30, 2006

"Rempitized" Education System

With the attraction that Mat Rempits are attracting in our local media and politicians today, it was quite interesting when Dr Azly Rahman wrote in his column in Malaysiakini of a "rempitised" education system.

Dr Azly offered a fairly complex definition of "rempitise", and it's application to economic and education systems:
Rempitism (noun; also concept and ideology borrow from the neo-Malay word rempit) - a Malaysian phenomenon in which youth uses the public road system to break the speed limit with customised motorbikes in illegal, past-midnight drag-races that rob the restful sleep of peaceful citizens; a phenomena akin to a capitalist economy of a struggling showcasing Third World nation such a Malaysia that hypermodernises beyond the ability of its people to cope with its sensationalised designs of ‘economic miracles’.

A ‘rempitised’ economic and education system ‘rams’ human beings into different ‘pits’ (hence the term ‘rempit’) of the conveyer belt of the capitalist production system; creating what looks like a natural progression of meritocracy in education and social evolution. The foundation of this system is neo-colonialism, structural violence and the alienation of labour.
I wouldn't claim to fully comprehend the above definitions, so I'll provide my own lay man understanding of it. We currently have a declining and clearly inadequate education system at all levels from primary to tertiary levels, as demonstrated by the illiteracy levels as well as the poor performance of our universities in all global rankings. At the same time, for the purposes of political expediency, akin to the egos of the Mat Rempits, we would still like to be seen as "world class". Hence, to rempitise our education system is akin to the haphazard attempts to adopt modern and progressive-like Wesern attributes in a almost reckless manner, without fully contemplating the consequences for themselves, the public and the country's future.

What however, I thought was an extremely key question asked was "Do we have people in the education ministry well versed enough in analysing the phenomenon of our rempitised economy (speeding it up illegally) and how this is directly related to how we are ‘schooling’ our society?" do we deal with the leadership of the public education system? We need to start by selecting only those who are well-versed in the entire spectrum of education.

We have ministers, educational experts, specialists and educational representatives who either have minimal classroom experience or none at all - let alone have much-needed knowledge in the history, theory, post-structurality and possibilities of education.

We place them in this ministry based on political considerations. They mess things up and show their inability to understand where our youth are heading, or how to design an education system good enough to reflect the dream we have - a dream of a just, equitable, environmentally sustainable, intellectual and ethical society.

We are more concerned with having our students and teachers pledge blind loyalty to the signs and symbols of power; one-dimensional thinking; and politically correct behaviour instead of developing, celebrating and further grooming good teachers who can radicalise the minds of the youth of tomorrow... We do this against the backdrop of our speeded-up, hypermodernised economy - one we rempitised in the name of the New Economic Policy.

The question for us now is: how do we de-rempitise our society?
How do we do that indeed.


Anonymous said...

and who is the biggest rempit of them all? anyone?

Anonymous said...

Now, now, that is a difficult question. Not fair to pose it to a society with Third World mentality. Anyway, I do not have the answer, but I do know that a group of Mat Rempits is actually running our country, making lots and lots of noises we dont like to hear. Very deafening at times, too. Sometimes they call themselves the Cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Oh, now i understand why a commoner called K-hairy beria-ria want to incorporated Mat Rempit as national asset, and each of us has to be proud of that. They are same species actually :D

Someone even told me that Mr K-hairy couldn't even speak his mother tougue before he became so popular :S

Anonymous said...

Its an interesting analogy to compare our education system with Mat Rempit. I would say I find some legitimacy in the comparison. Its natural because the Mat Rempit phenomenon is in part a failure of the education system - a disconnect between the aspiration and skills of the students from the education system.

The truth is the experience is not unique. I remember Singapore had a school-gangster problem long time ago. A big part of the solution was their vocational training schools. These kids were taught to be mechanics, carpenters, skilled construction workers, etc. By streaming them, they could isolate the problem and dealth with them directly. I remember the neighourhood police being very close to the principals of these schools and often talking to the students and conducting programs with these schools and neigbourhood.

There are answers to 'rempitization' but the truth is it requires good government from teachers to police to education officials. There is no simple comprehensive answer, it calls for many programs and systems working. This is unfortunately Not us which is what Dr. Azly is eluding too.

Anonymous said...

The comparison between Mat Rempit and a certain country 's cabinet is eerily true. Both show similar approaches in modifying and changing the laws of the country as they feel fit. Talk about rukun negara....hehehe
The only way to solve both these mat rempit problems is to place them in pulau jerejak where they can do no damages.
Trouble is pulau jerejak cant accomodate the inctreasing number of mat rempits. These mat rempits are not only in cabinets but in city and town councils.

Casper said...

This reminds me of centrally planned economy where the leadership thinks they know best and try to 'ramp things up'.

It works in away actually, and to a certain extend. With excellent brains, this may work a little bit longer. Globalised world make such planning more difficult. Also these schemes tend to ramp up the input (quantity/no of people/ quality of education of people) into the economy but does not bother to fix the 'processing bits'.

I am not totally against such schemes ( nowadays lots of Indian became call centre advisors and programmer against their own interest and ambitions too) but I have serious concern about those planners, more so when they cannot distinguish between what is politic and what is economic.