Mary Maguire runs an English school in Ulu Selangor. Soon after GE-14, some concerned Malaysians formed a group, to share and discuss ideas, to revamp the Malaysian Education System. Mary was among the first to respond to the call.
Here are her suggestions.
1. I am totally opposed to vernacular schools. If you want to develop a national identity, rather than a racial one, then there should be one school for all.
2. Given China’s global standing, students would be best equipped to succeed if they were fluent in English and Mandarin. I would make both languages ( as well as BM) compulsory and start teaching them at primary level.
3. I am an English teacher and am always shocked by student’s inability to think and form opinions. No more spoon feeding and memorizing, teach them how to think and discover information on their own.
4. Reduce class sizes down to 30 max and have a single school session per day, say from 8/9am until 2/3pm
5. Give less homework and fewer tests.
Finland is achieving great results and doesn’t have testing or homework…maybe we should look into this.
6. Provide student’s with lockers so they don’t have to carry heavy bags around all day.
7. Totally revamp teacher training and focus more on developing thinking, questioning and motivation. Lots of other successful models to consider when redesigning the system.
8. Pay teacher’s more and give them adequate, time space and resources to do their job.
9. Allow teachers to choose the schools they want to teach in rather than being allocated a place of work. Teachers would have to apply for the schools they wanted and go through an interview process in order to get the job. Introducing a bit of competitiveness amongst teachers will keep them on their toes and being able to work in their school of choice, will make them happier and more motivated.
10. Totally rethink religious teaching. Perhaps, if there’s a single school day that finishes at 2/3pm, religious classes could be optional and be held as separate afternoon classes.
11. Probably the most important is to convince the government to spend more on Education! We need more schools, better equipped schools, more teachers…
12. Abolish corporal punishment.
13. Make schools accessible to the disabled and provision for special needs children with conditions like autism.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor)
Mary Maguire: Although I studied education in the UK many years ago, I only started teaching after I moved to Malaysia and became interested in English as a foreign language.
I now run my own English language school in the small town of Kuala Kubu Bharu in Ulu Selangor.