Aug 22, 2006

Change In Education System Needed, Says Dr M

About a week ago, PM Abdullah Badawi was named the "Father of Knowledge Economy", I wonder whether this is relevant. :-)

Extracted from BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- The time has come for the country to amend the education system as the present system does not infuse the acquisition of knowledge and the application of the knowledge gained, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

"We have to change the system. The present system of acquiring knowledge alone is not enough. We need people to acquire knowledge and at the same time know how to apply this knowledge. We need a system which would be a marriage of the two. We have to seriously think about this if we want to progress further," he said.

He said education did not just mean acquiring knowledge but also knowing how to apply this knowledge as "it would be worthless for someone to acquire knowledge but not know how to apply the knowledge learnt".

He said this in his keynote address at the four-day 35th International Federation of Training and Development Organisations (IFTDO) World Conference and Exhibition 2006 on Training and Development at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here, Tuesday.

Dr Mahathir said history had shown that those who merely acquired knowledge did not progress as far as those who had acquired knowledge and knew how to apply the knowledge.

He said the British education system followed by Malaysia placed emphasis on gaining knowledge, while other education systems such as those practised in Japan and Germany not only stressed knowledge gain but also applying it.

"This is why the British are now consired backward compared to the Germans and the Japanese. Take British cars for example, they used to make good cars but not anymore. The Germans with their Mercedes (Benz) and BMWs have beaten the British. This is because the Germans not only acquired knowledge but also knew how to use this knowledge...this is the advantage of their education system," he said.

"But since we are stuck on the British education system with concentration on acquisition of knowledge, we now don't know how to make use of the knowledge we have. Our educationists are tied to the British system and when we ask them to try out a new system, they resist," he added.

He said that in the early 1980s, the government decided to start the "Look East" policy, emulating ideas from Japan but this policy was not widened to Malaysia's education system.

"The Japanese system does not only teach you about science and technology but it also tells you how to apply it. The acquisition of knowledge is accompanied by the application of knowledge. We have to ask ourselves, do we want to continue using the British system or do we follow steps of countries like Japan and Germany.

"If we continue using the British system, then we would have a lot of clever people not being able to do anything, not producing anything but perhaps just hot air. We do not want people to talk but to do things. We need to change now. Training and acquisition of knowledge must be harmonised. We must have a fair share of time on theory and practical."

He said the nation was losing out as many people were not very good at theory but excelled when it came to practical.

The present education system, especially at the school level, placed too much emphasis on theory and only after students leave school were they asked to perform practicals, which was the application of the knowledge gained in school, he said.

"If a person is able to acquire knowledge and how to use that knowledge, then he or she becomes a more rounded person," he added.

The country's fourth prime minister also said that the usage of English to gain knowledge did not at all degrade the national language as "a true nationalist is someone who can acquire knowledge, no matter how" and with knowledge mostly documented in English, it would be foolish for someone not to learn English, which was regarded as an universal language.


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