The quashing of the banding system for schools seems to be a most welcomed move by parents, educators and students. Although it is symbolic, it is still a big step forward to want to change, to want to listen to the people, to want to do good for education and make the parents happy. Malaysia made that move many years ago when parents complained that it was too difficult to use the English Language, and they took English out of their system. We almost took Mandarin out of our system as well. Any way the standard of Mandarin taught in schools today is way below par from yesteryears.
Before people get too excited and go overboard with the relac mentality, before we enter the age of narcissism, let’s look at the status of our education system and its products. Is our education really good? Are the products really first class? I am putting aside the other greater values of education, like opening the mind to see the real world, critical thinking, an educated and better person, values, goodness etc etc.
For the first question, relatively, yes. Compare to the third world countries, we have a good education system. Or at least the infrastructure and the hardware are first class, brand new and with modern comfort and facilities.
What about the quality question? Forget about the older generations of leaders that were mostly the products of foreign universities. In fact many of our top talents in govt are also products of foreign world class universities. What does this say of the quality of our local education?
In the employment scene, are our local products, all those with straight As, good enough? I think so, at the middle management level. Would they also be good at the top management level? This is a tricky question. Apparently it seems that our local products are not good enough for top level management, both in the govt and private sector. In those govt positions where there is no competition from foreigners, it is hard to tell.
And many organisations, including govt linked organisations, are happily recruiting foreigners or foreign educated professionals in preference to local graduates. Why? Foreigners are cheaper or are foreigners better? If foreigners are found better, then we have a problem, a real problem. And if foreigners are from third world countries and found to be better to boss around with our world class straight A products, now this is not funny. It simply says that our super products are useless or not worth their grades on paper.
The situation on the employment scene is not speaking very well of our local products. And this is in spite of the high pressure cooker system, including banding and branding of schools, to squeeze out the best from each cohorts. Would it be worst if the high pressure is slackened to appease the parents? Would we produce junks that are not even good enough to work in third world countries when everything is relaxed? Can we afford to lower our standards, make schooling fun and stress free as all parents and children would love to have, and everyday a happy and carefree day, a fun day in schools?
How far and how low would the education system go when we are not even producing graduates that can compete with third world countries even now? Would there be a day when all the top and senior managements must be imported, from third world countries, to manage our happy and stress free products from our friendly and wholesome education system?
What do you think? Did anyone say levelling down? There must be competition to get the best to be the best. There must also be moderation so that those that are meant for better things in other fields could excel and not feel dumped into the rubbish heap. Let’s not have an Olympic Games to compete for sportsmanship and not to excel. There can be another Olympic Games for other purposes like not winning and every participants would come home with a medal, the same medal for everyone to make everyone happy.
Will there be a shift in the direction and mission of our education system?