Some parents need an education – they focus on the afterlife.

If all Malay parents were like the actor, Zul Yahya, Malaysia would have to rely on the ‘pendatang’ to provide our professionals, like chemists, architects, engineers, scientists, epidemiologists, virologists, IT experts, mathematicians, economists, lawyers and doctors.

On 22 February, Zul, of the Pepaya drama, uploaded posts on Instagram and Facebook  to tell his fans, that he has stopped his children from going to school, because his priority is to prepare them for the afterlife.

He said that he values “ilmu akhirat” (knowledge of the afterlife), more than a normal education. You can read the original newsreport at Kosmo or watch his video.

Isn’t he very shortsighted and is starting a dangerous precedent?

More importantly, he is denying his children the right to an education, and the means to fulfil their hopes and aspirations.

Zul and his wife have been married for 14 years and have six children, three girls and three boys, whose ages range from one to nine years old. He claimed that his top priority for his children was to prepare them for the afterlife.

This is in direct opposition to all Islamic teaching, which promotes the acquisition of knowledge and is obligatory for every Muslim.

Denying criticism by his fans that he was not concerned about his six children’s future, he said that he was more concerned about their success in the afterlife. The 48-year-old said, “God willing, the knowledge of the afterlife is more important than all knowledge.”

So how many parents are like Zul? Will he be fined because all children are supposed to be schooled until they are 16-years-old?

One parent told me that many parents at her children’s primary school in Butterworth, had stopped their children’s schooling because they saw little point in education. The children would be put to better use working in the parent’s ‘nasi kandar’ stalls, preparing the client’s drinks and helping to wash the dishes. How widespread is this belief, that schooling is not of any use? Has a survey been conducted by the Ministry of Education, to find the veracity of this allegation?

Zul cannot have studied history at school, or if he did, can’t have been concentrating. Our forefathers fought hard to demand that the British provide an education for their children. They battled prejudice, a lack of qualified teachers and the social and cultural norms of the time.

When Islam was brought to the Malay peninsular by traders from India and the Arabian peninsula, education among the Malays was equated with religious learning. Imams conducted lessons in the attap schools or madrasahs, and in the 1870s, the British established free Malay-medium primary schools.

Although the education was limited, with only four years of tuition, the pupils learnt little more than basic literacy and numeracy skills, but an important trend was established.

These schools were a catalyst for social and political change. Malay girls were given access to formal education in 1885 and in 1922, British historian, Richard O. Winstedt, helped to establish the Sultan Idris Training College, to produce Malay teachers. The college became a centre of Malay intellectual life.

Education for the Chinese was not provided by the British and so the community was forced to establish and manage their own schools. As the population grew, these schools mushroomed.

The Indian community, especially those living on the estates, had no access to education until the 1923 Labour Code compelled estate owners  to provide educational facilities.

Without assistance from the British, both these communities, based their curriculum on China or India.

Urban children were more fortunate as mission schools were established,  and the westernised elite also started many English schools.

Many Malay fathers and grandfathers were aware that an education was crucial to lift their children, especially their daughters, out of the poverty trap.

That is why Zul’s actions are wrong. Our forefathers have always maintained that status, social class or money, should not prevent a child from gaining an education and a brighter future.

School is where our children receive the necessary foundations to either continue their studies or acquire skills to become part of the country’s workforce. School is where we learn about social skills, and interaction with other people, especially those from other cultures and faiths.

School is where we discover our potential and how to deal with our shortcomings. It is the discipline that school provides, the importance of working hard, of teamwork, and adhering to deadlines that helps build character.

An interest in certain subjects and after-school activities, will motivate a child  to become a scientist, an artist or a teacher.

By all means, provide religious education after school, but formal schooling is where our children can start to build their hopes and dreams. More importantly, schools help to safeguard the long-term future of Malaysia and its economy.

Zul is very short-sighted and is damning his children to a life of poverty and ignorance.

Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Paul Wolfobitch says:

    The reality in recent times is such that education (I am not including vocational training) leads to nothing.

    Education no longer prepares one for the jobs hoped for, there are just no jobs to match the education and there is just too much unemployment.

    And it is only going to get seriously worse with Covid.

    You don’t need the educated with their master’s degrees and even PhDs to deliver food for Grab. You can’t have them sit around and do drugs if their jobs are taken by foreign workers.

    You can’t have our princes and princesses refusing to do the work foreign workers would gladly do.

    Education is really expensive and they should be for the purpose of the right candidates for the right jobs – jobs candidates have studied or even trained for. You don’t need a degree to hang around to dig your nose. Or a PhD if all there is for you to do is scratch your arse.

    Malaysia has too many universities and colleges churning out too many (barely educated) graduates (our universities are of rubbish standard if our monkeys are intelligent enough to know that). And we have too many ending up with unnecessary debts from student loans.

    Sure you can get fcuked up spending your life at madrassahs. But so can you if you spend your life at educational outfits and get nowhere too.

    Maybe being “religious”, suckered by the clergy, and piously preparing for Jennah, Heaven or wherever else may stop our monkeys from getting bored, disillusioned, frustrated, and doing drugs, otherwise.

    Whatever you may think, those days of working hard for a degree and a nice job after, are gone. And with our garbage gomens of whatever useless worthless politicians that only Malaysians can be blessed with, the frustration can only get worse.

  • double tree says:

    This is nothing surprising. It has been showing up every now and then but now it seems to be the in thing among Malays. This is also not surprising. Growing up from the time the Japanese came, I have seen first hand the effect of Islam on some of my Malay classmates. One of them called I.B. was the best student as far as maths was concerned. Always 100% – nothing less. Until Form 3 when he started religious classes. Then suddenly from 100% it became 50% then 40% then 30%. He sat in front of me. Naturally I asked him what happened. He took some time to tell me the reason. You guessed it. His Islamic tutor told him that he must not do well in school. The afterlife was more important. His parents made no move. So he became one of the most brilliant students in English College to one of the worst. I have brought up this issue with many malay colleagues and friends. No one seemed concerned that such a thing can happen. This means they concur with the religious teacher. So when we complain Malays have no idea of governance, are we wrong? Are we wrong to be concerned that the whole country is at risk if the Malay majority are more concerned with the after life than solving the here and now problems. We are very concerned that the PN government has made no move over this issue. If we go to the logical conclusion, then the government should shut down all the public universities. How we have rotted over 70 years. Sad but true. Non Malaysians will read about this matter and run far far away.

    • Paul Wolfobitch says:

      Your friend’s meaning of life, and choice is his business, you cannot apply your “wisdom” and “standards” on or to him.

      You have to appreciate not everyone thinks like you – or want to.

      And that certainly doesn’t mean that they are wrong.

      • double tree says:

        So you agree that secular education is not important if you think so. It is a matter of choice?

        • Paul Wolfobitch says:

          Whatever education à person wants for himself is entirely his business, be that “secular” education, religious education or whatever education else. Or no education.

          Many of my classmates hardly wanted to study, did worse than badly at school, but went on to become millionaires, a couple of billionaires among them. We also have quite a few PhDs who studied at prestigious foreign universities – who are very learned by Malaysian standards but are considered rather stupid judged by those super wealthy classmates. Those Chinese more impressed by money feel same too.

          No one else should appoint himself to decide or dictate to another person what his or her education should be.

          Malaysia is full of dumbass kaypohchees who always impose upon themselves the messianic role of “saving” others all without being begged to.

          Reading some arseh*les here who act “father knows best” is painful reminder of arseh*les who can’t tell their arses from their heads but nevertheless simply have to bleed their profound genius on how others should think like them.

          Malaysian Chinese very often talk the “wisdom” of their coolie or peasant grandparents, it’s invariably all about working excessively hard and killing yourself saving two fcuking sens.

          I know à couple of kids who wanted to become artists, their parents flipped, one mother wanted to kill herself over that, what would the other Chinese say and all that.

          Asked by the kids what my view was I said it was up to themselves what they wanted to do, they – and everybody else may never know for sure.

          One kid never became much of an artist, the other is a professional bum. I say good on them, they are happy.

          Unfortunately, that mother didn’t kill herself.

          About secular and religious schools, the former frequently produce religious nuts, the latter, randy and sex-mad students. The boss of one of the world’s most famous sex aids business went to a Catholic convent school. I slept with young nuns when I travelled across Europe… So much for secular and religious schools and their human contents… Amen.

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