Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Malaysian Education in general and Islamic System


The education system in Malaysia now is generally exampling from UK Tripartite System which was the system used by British government in the 60s and 70s. UK Tripartite system is a system with boarding schools being the top schools, government schools being the schools for average-joe and technical schools for students who are seen as being more able in technical skills. Malaysia is however unique because we have some extra types of school, eg vernacular schools according to language & culture and also religious schools that implement Islamic teaching and way of life in the education system of the schools.

Let's take Malaysia secondary school system in general. First question, what is the purpose of having an education system? We can generally say edu system aims to develop Malaysian human capital. However the question is what kind of human capital? Then we can assume the kind of human capital that will be useful in developing Malaysia. The next question, what kind of development for Malaysia? The general answers are economically, image development, Malaysian civilisation and so on.

But let's consider the reality of our edu-system. What is the purpose 'in reality' of having this education system? I will answer the purpose of all these education in general is to create human capital that are equipped to become the next workforce for Malaysia. For excellent students who scored As in exam, they are 'fixed' to fill the next professional workfield eg doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. For those who scored lower in exams, they'll be sent into government schools which are generally 'less-privileged' than boarding schools. Then a group of the students are put into technical schools with the end result of the school creating people for technical jobs which are often labelled as the second class jobs.

The schools are choosed by their prestige and what can they offer to the students. Parents will want their children to be sent into good schools because good schools eg boarding schools will give them the extra opportunities and privileged to have good jobs. What does it means with having a good job. I will safely assume that a good job = a high paying job.

Now, why are people into good job (=high paying jobs) that much? Because in Malaysia system, money is seen as the most valuable item needed not only to survive but to increase status. Hence when money is seen as everything, people will look forward to receiving more income because it means more cash = more status = more influence etc.

This is why, people tend to choose better schools because better schools can offer good future by helping in equipping students with skills to get high paying jobs. This is also why, people tend not to choose other type of school as their first choice.

Now let's imagine a situation where among the best paying jobs is not being a doctor, lawyer or engineer so to speak. But the best paying job in Malaysia is actually being a teacher. Teacher can get paid up until nearly Rm10k in Malaysia. I will state that the general population of Malaysian students will be studying to become a teacher instead of doctors, lawyers or engineers. Now, if the best paying job is being a computer technician, people will be fighting to get a place into a good technical school because that school can help them to be a good computer technician. This is also one of the reasons why some fields are considered as 'less useful' eg art stream classes, because art people often get paid less. Less cash = less status = less preferred job generally.

Hence, the reality for Malaysian education system, is not merely to create good human capital but it is to create a specific human capital which is designed to fulfill the role of the society. And what kind of society are we living in right now? A society that is designed to view money as the most important tool of survival, success and status representation.

On the other hand, the next core question: what is actually the 'ideal' education system? I would want to believe that the ideal education system is one that can educate people not only in term of skills needed for life-survival but also spiritually where people will adhere to good values without having to be forced. Eg without having the need to have all sort of regulations, people themselves understand alcohol doesn't actually bring much positive effects on them compared to the negative implications it has and other kind of examples. I would want this kind of education system or a system that is able to educate us to achieve this standard.

This has happened before in Islamic history. During the ruling of Khulafa Ar-Rasyidin. However, I myself find it hard to come across a good article or writing that describes to us the kind of system being used during that time. There are less literature on the history of Islam describing the kind of system used during the golden age of Islam, the time when the west were the one searching for illumination from Islamic scholars and systems.

Perhaps the time has come for us, Muslim youths to search for this lost description and start compiling from history and researches, a thorough and complete framework of proven Islamic administration system that includes all field (judiciary, education, economy, etc). So that we ourselves can base our fight on something concrete.

If not, we will be shouting and screaming for an Islamic system but what actually is Islamic System?


  1. Salam
    indeed,it is only thru education then only people will move forward,and in term of education policy,theres no clear guideline in term of Islamic approach, thus making it vague to be structured accordingly to the locality of the society...erm,ak ada go thru dis one article in readers digest,x ingat issue yg mana,pasal education systems in iceland,or some sort of scandinavian country,which gives a total autonomy for the students to organise their own classes...
    but how do we approach the program to integrate with local agenda will remain vague,unless we hav a clear notions and idea,where education must be seen as an investment to the society,vice cersa
    i do hope this kind of discussion will prevail in the PERMATA program, in order to nationalise the needs for education priority.

  2. muzikri:
    total autonomy in iceland yeah? Itu among new ideas in education revolution. Tapi the education revolution difikir dan didebatekan oleh tokoh-tokoh pendidikan didikan sekular. I'm not saying they are wrong, tak. Tapi mana publication berkaitan pendidikan berkonsepkan Islam oleh tokoh-tokoh 'pendidikan' Islam?
    However I agree that education should be more prioritised in Malaysia cuma the question is what kind of education? And is our edu-system in Malaysia having the impact we want it to have?

    Thanks for sharing your two cents bro! ;)


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