I am a Malaysian!
There I said it!
True blue Malaysian! I was born and bred in Malaysia!
And I am proud to be Malaysian, proud that I was given an opportunity to experience life that’s so diverse and rich in its culture. A culture where merit is not in its vocabulary where no matter how hard one tries, sometimes, it didn’t get you anywhere. A culture where you learn to seek alternatives to the conventional route and finding new meaning in success.
Amidst all the hoohahs about the education system in Malaysia and how bad it had been in the last decade, I am a proud of this “cannot-make-it” education system where I was a byproduct and made it. I had gone through the entire education system from its primary education to secondary education to institution of higher learning. I was schooled in one of the finest primary and secondary schools in the country from 1988 to 1998. 10 years of my childhood and teenage years were spent being moulded and taught that I should always uphold the values that was encrypted in my school motto – “Simple in virtue, steadfast in duty”. Indeed, it is this very motto that has brought me places and instilled in me the value of hardwork and stand steadfast in all that I do. I was taught never to take short cut and that success only comes to those who yearns for it and work hard to attain it. I sailed through the schooling years and was promoted each year. An achievement that I was proud of.
My parents are not the educated lot, they do not speak a word of English, my brother and I grew up in an environment where dialects and Malay were widely spoken, I grew up fascinated by how my parents would switch between dialects and tongues depending on whom they are conversing with at that time. I stand amazed. It is through this exposure that I picked up the different languages that I am proud to say that I am fluent in all these languages.
My parents never pressured me to go tuition or sign me up for endless enrichment classes. I grew up having my fair share of play time, telly time and my parents never really had to tell me to go do homework, I grew up with a strong sense of responsibility knowing that things had to be done in an excellent manner. It must be the value that the school has inculcated in me.
I have been in Singapore for 7 years now and I have been assimilated into its culture seamlessly. And, perhaps I am more Singaporean than Malaysian now. I am comfortable here though I occasionally complained about the packed trains, delayed buses or lack of space to think and breathe, Singapore has been a wonderful place to me. It is my pet peeve whenever I tell people I met that I am a Malaysian, immediately without fail, each time, people would just conclude that I must have been educated here in Singapore and had gone through its immaculate education system and therefore, I speak fluent English.
I am sorry to disappoint you folks, but I was educated in Malaysia. Malaysia may not have the best education system in world, but I was its byproduct and I am proud about it.
Well, the education system now may not be as good as it used to be, but it still produces fine students from fine schools. Therefore, I concluded that it is not the education system per se that is to be blamed. Students have a part to play in taking the ownership in their own learning journey. School definitely has a part to play. A huge part to play in fact. I couldn’t imagine what would I be had my mom did not enrolled me in this school. Perhaps I may not even make it.
I do hope that the Najib Government should seriously consider making English the medium of teaching in Malaysia and then students are free to choose mother tongue as their second language. Malaysians are way behind in job market because they have such poor command of English. In this globalized world, English remains the lingua franca and we will continue to lag behind if we stubbornly stick to our gun. Nothing wrong with using English as our medium of teaching. The Malay language will always be our Bahasa Ibunda.
Having stayed in Malaysia most of my life, I feel saddened whenever I see droves of Malaysians crossing the causeway to work here in menial tasks, tasks that the locals do not even want to do or look at. I really hope to see more professionals. Everywhere I travelled to, I see Malaysians who are working their sweats off to make a living so that they can eke out a living and send money home because there’s no jobs back home. This saddens me deeply. I want Malaysians to be remembered as a talented lot not a group of migrant workers who go where the money is. I have had enough of people looking down on us and thinking that we “cannot-make-it”.
In order for us to make it, firstly, education system has to be refined and progress must happen. Education is to equip its people to build the nation together. But, are we?
Vision 2020 is 8 years away, will we make it?