I confess I was VERY disappointed when Hishamuddin was re-appointed
as the Minister of Education.
Other than being infamous for waving a keris and bringing disrepute to the ministry, what other contributions has he made to the education system?
Look, primary school kids are still carrying 10kg loads to school each day. Physical education is not about working up a sweat but instead becomes a classroom subject conducted under the spinning fan. Students are still gunning for the maximum number of A's in public exams. Morality lessons is reduced to rote learning, again for the purpose of scoring an 'A'.
Worse of all, you still read about students subconsciously divided into "Muslims" and "non-Muslims" camp in national schools and institutions of higher learning.
The sad thing is, our Minister of Education remain oblivious or worse, perhaps he couldn't care less?
I want to highlight this letter
published in The Star
today which appeals to the Ministry to look at one of the root causes of disintegration and disunity within our society.
The writer, Dr Mohd Dewa has bravely highlighted an issue which many would agree but due to reasons well understood, the non-Muslims especially will not express publicly due to fears of incurring the wrath of certain sections of the Muslim community who would be quick to politicize the issue.
And because we fear the few extremists in our midst that we have allowed the system to continue to rot.I challenge non-UMNO coalition members of the Barisan Nasional
to pressure the government and right the #1 problem in national schools today and one of the main reasons for the rejection of it by many non-Muslim parents.
It is time to put an end to the "divide and rule" policies of national schools.
Our Education Ministry has allowed schools to be breeding grounds for racial and religious intolerance. And so far, no one has the guts to stop this nonsense once and for all.
The way to integration
NATIONAL integration is an on-off precept that is piped about by self-interested politicians of any genre to serve a purpose at that particular time. This may not be entirely true but this issue does emphasise the fact that we are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation.
Achieving national integration is an ongoing process that is important and essential to our nation’s survival and very existence. To bring the people of various races and religions to understand each other is an arduous task akin to nation building in our context.
And this task begins first when our children enter the educational stream. It begins from tadika (kindergarten) to primary and then secondary school.
Let us be honest with ourselves.
Our children are not born into any religion. They only belong to the religion of which their parents are members of. There is no such entity as a Christian child, a Muslim child, a Hindu child or a Buddhist child. She or he is a child of Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Buddhist parents. They are too young to decide for themselves who they want to be. Aren’t we being extremely harsh by imposing on them our proclivities, our religion, instead of teaching them universal values and letting them decide for themselves who they want to be when they are of age at 18 years?
And there are many among us who chose to emphasise the form of religion more than the substance, even for toddlers. In this context I would like to bring to your kind attention our Muslim children who are being “forced” to wear the headscarf (tudung) by the little Napoleons in the schools, the ustads and ustaaza.
Although Parliament has made it necessary to emphasise that the wearing of the headscarf is voluntary, these over-zealous Napoleons have taken it upon themselves the right to reprimand those who do not follow.
There is no necessity for our children to be burdened with the headscarf in this hot, humid climate of ours. Let them make their own choice at the right time. Children should be left to grow and develop at their own pace, not bridled down from kindergarten with a headscarf that is sure to stifle their potential.
There are health problems associated with the early and premature use of the headscarf, in particular ear problems, which if neglected, can result in loss of hearing.
Let us be honest and truthful to ourselves. National integration begins from young. Our children need to have a uniformity, a common uniform like in the early fifties, sixties and seventies, not uniforms that differentiate them from each other. That is a recipe for disaster.
The national service is a commendable achievement by the Government to instil understanding, cooperation and tolerance. But is it not a little too late? The best way to inculcate and initiate national integration is to do away with the headscarf in all our schools until 11 years of education have been achieved. This way our children grow together in an atmosphere of togetherness. Then our children would have learnt to appreciate each other of whatever ethnicity because they wore the same uniform!
Malaysia will become once again an integrated society wherein the term racial polarisation would be non-existent. There will not be any distinction from one to the other because of “form.”
It is truly sad to see our children being segregated, in form, under the pretence of religious fervour.
DR MOHD DEWA,