Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Of schoolbooks and history lessons

(From the STAR, page N20 today)

Makkal Osai
reported that parents of children not eligible for school textbook loans have found it difficult to purchase the books. They had approached many bookstores and found that the books were not available.

S. Gunalan, whose daughter is in Year 3 in a Tamil school in Seberang Prai, had been unable to purchase the required textbooks since November.

Similarly, my kids go to a local SJKC and I too encountered difficulty in getting all their workbooks this year. Some of the compulsory workbooks are not carried as stock by local bookstores and even the school admitted that supplies have fallen short this year. Could this situation have been aggravated by the recent floods as reported in Utusan Malaysia?

In that report, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar said that the shortage of schoolbooks in the Klang Valley arose following instructions from the Ministry to publishers to prioritise the supply of books to states affected by the recent floods.

I had no choice but to borrow the affected workbooks from my kids' classmates and made photostat copies of them to avoid trouble with their teachers for not submitting their homework. By the way, I really find it ridiculous that my son's Year 2 Bahasa Melayu subject required 4 compulsory workbooks on top of the usual 2-3 workbooks per core subject. The weight of the poor kid's schoolbag is more than half his body weight! This perennial problem has been a major source of distress for parents of primary schoolchildren and the Education Ministry seems impotent to do anything to resolve it.

And I thought the Education Minister announced sometime back that free textbooks on loan will be made available to ALL schoolchildren regardless of their parents' income level. Whatever happened to that proposal? Sudah lupa kah??

********************

I browsed through the History textbook of a Form 4 science student recently and I am struck by the content of the syllabus. Out of 10 chapters, 5 are devoted to Islamic civilisation and the spread of Islam to South East Asia and subsequent Islamic influences on the economic, sosial and political structure of present day Malaysia.

Bab 1 Kemunculan Tamadun Awal Manusia
Bab 2 Peningkatan Tamadun
Bab 3 Tamadun Awal Asia Tenggara
Bab 4 Kemunculan Tamadun Islam dan perkembangannya di Makkah
Bab 5 Kerajaan Islam di Madinah
Bab 6 Pembentukan Kerajaan Islam dan sumbangannya
Bab 7 Islam di Asia Tenggara
Bab 8 Pembaharuan dan Pengaruh Islam di Malaysia sebelum kedatangan Barat
Bab 9 Perkembangan di Eropah
Bab 10 Dasar British dan kesannya terhadap ekonomi negara

I remember distinctly that my history books never devote so many chapters to the study of one single civilisation. But of course, that was many many years ago.

Times have changed. In this new millenium, I suppose our educators think that our kids need not learn too much about Western civilisations, even less so about other Eastern civilisations to the north of Malaysia.

And the strange thing is, history is now a compulsory subject for all Form 4 and 5 students whereas geography is made optional for science stream students.

But I would have thought learning geography would be more relevant to a science student than history as was the practice during my secondary schooldays. When did this change happen?

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2 Comments:

Blogger freelunch2020 said...

hey there,

tks for dropping by my blog.
re the form 4 history text, it's a bit scary cos i remembered having to memorise a lot on islam for my spm.

but i believe there is more world history with the renaissance, industrial revolution and the world wars briefly covered but not enough to TRULY understand these world events and appreciate them

there was also a toning done of the earlier/greater civilisations like Persia and Greece...

my experience was when i went abroad for my a-levels in spore, i discovered another side to the malaysian history and at the same time a more complete picture of world history.

re malaysian history important things were left out like
1/how the communists help fight the colonial masters but were betrayed by the alliance in the end.
2/the actual sequence of events that let up to May 13, instead of a race riot bcos of race tensions but actually cos of a victory parade by the opposition where rude remarks were directed at the malays and a retaliatory parade by UMNO that resulted in the widespread bloodshed
3/what the agreement at independence meant -- that the three main races were equal partners and without MCA n MIC's support, UMNO would not have achieved independence
4/the contribution of the chinese in building the economy by bringing trade since before malacca and encouragign commerce till cities like KL were developed

people grow up without a real sense of what happened and as a result, racial tensions and polarisation are on the rise.

coupled with islamisation, it will only bring the races further apart.

however, the question that looms in my mind now is what can be done to change this? besides blogsphere? will there be any change? will a leader rise up to lead a change?

*phew*
not too heavy i hope..
But PM SAID WE MUST START THINKING!!!! so i think think think la.....why don't he also think?? esp before he talk???
:D

9/1/07 12:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my children will go study overseas following the example of our ministers

13/1/07 12:03  

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