KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Education system is on the right track towards meeting the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and providing students with skills for the 21st century.
At the same time, the Education Ministry is also working towards instilling good civic sense and building good values among students to help them be prepared for the challenges for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Education Director-General Datuk Dr Amin Senin said through various policies and initiatives under the Education Blueprint (2013- 2025), there has been a visible improvement in the entire education system, especially among the poor and hardcore poor.
However, one of the ministry’s greatest concern was instilling good civic sense among students, hence the need for Civic Education to be taught in schools again.
“Let me clarify a bit on the Civic studies implemented since June because its not a subject on its own or Moral as some parents assume,” Amin said in an interview recently.
“Moral Education is taught to non-Muslim students while Muslim students take Pendidikan Islam but both these subjects does not substitute the civic education we reintroduced. This is because the approach is more practical and embedded into one’s thinking and acting abilities, ” Amin said when met at the ministry recently.
Amin said the ministry’s aim is to teach students to apply moral values in their daily lives and to help create a civilised citizen with knowledge of their rights, social responsibility, mutual respect and happiness.
“Civic education is not new and was part of the education system in the 1960s, only to be scrapped and revived several times before being reintroduced now.
“When it was first introduced after Merdeka, it used to be known as ‘tatarakyat’ emphasising on self management, interaction with elders, neighbour and mutual respect.
“During the second rebirth of Civics and Citizenship Education, the focus components were knowledge, national identity and patriotism and values.
“However, In the current Civics Education launched in August, the focus is on “literasi sivik” (civic awareness) and “amali sivik” (applied civics),” Amin added.
This will be done through the latest modules, concepts and approaches, which will be different from the subject that had been previously taught in schools.
“Civic literacy includes nationhood and social-emotional aspects of citizenship which will be embedded in the curriculum, and should be mastered by students.
“Civic practices on the other hand, gives space and opportunities for students to put civic literacy into practice. This is done during the school assembly, co-curricular activities and school programmes.
“Previously Civics was taught as a subject. However, this time lessons are not only confined to classroom teaching and learning. Students need to be taught how to process information, and they need adaptable skills they can apply in all areas of life — just teaching them ideas and facts, without teaching them how to use them in real-life settings, is no longer enough.”
With the civic education module, educators will expose students to real life situations and practices within society.
“We will be implementing it for one hour every fourth week of the month during Bahasa Melayu, English, Islamic and Moral Studies and History at primary and preschool levels.
“Children in pre-schools will be taught only 30 minutes, as we are trying not to burden the existing teaching and learning period.”
He added that educators also need to adapt and develop new ways of teaching and learning that reflect a changing world.
Commenting on the various policies and initiatives under the Education Blueprint (2013- 2025), Amin said the system implemented has been successful in educating young children in pre schools and primary schools so that they would have the basic minimum education required.
Amin said a child needed to be exposed to basic knowledge and education as provided in primary school so that they are able to survive in the ever changing and challenging environment.
“For this, we must make sure that children receive equal quality education in national schools, both primary and secondary, regardless of their background and differences.’
Based on the ministry’s yearly data statistics, he said comparison of last three years has showed a positive development, mainly in the number of students who succeed in meeting the minimum requirements to enter into secondary schools.
He added that a primary school student must obtain at least a pass , D, in all the compulsory subjects in the UPSR examination to be able to enter secondary school.
“However, this was a huge challenge for the ministry because prior to 2016, there was an average of 90,000 to 95,000 students annually who did not make the cut.”
Amin added this trend fortunately changed along with the changes the ministry introduced in 2016.
“Our focus is not academic achievements, scoring straight A’s alone. Instead the ministry aims to make sure more students actually meet the minimum requirement of passing, at least with a D in their subjects.
“For instance, let take the Mathematics subject in primary schools. In 2016, the ministry found that out of 440,000 students, 90,000 did not meet the minimum requirement of a D in the subject. But through adopting a different approach and implementing various programmes, last year we managed to bring it down to 70,000 in UPSR. There has been a consistent reduction in the numbers since.
” The best part is that we did this without compromising on the straight As achievers, whose numbers also continue to increase”.
He said this was very important because the education system used in Malaysia is formulated from Gross Oriented Holistic Education, which prioritize students to pass in all subjects.