Schools are the first and best sites for human capital development

KUALA LUMPUR: Schools commenced on Jan 2, 2018, and for some states in Malaysia, Jan 1, 2018. More than 137,000 students entered Standard One.

This means 274,000 more parents are busy preparing for their seven-year-old child to be ready physically and psychologically to enter the schooling world, which for some will be totally new and challenging.

A child spends over six years within the arms of his/her mum and dad, maid or at a childcare center; continuously attended to, fed, washed, nursed, cared, loved and tutored by someone known to the child.

Suddenly, a new environment, a new person called teacher, many diverse friends, eat only when you are allowed to during recess, study by sitting down in one place from 7.30am to 12.30pm.

This is a new chapter in life. Children who have attended kindergarten would be able to cope a little better, but not the ones who have not. The child will take a week or so to adapt to this situation.

The parents will be anxious about their children for more than a week; worry about the changing environment, influence or attitudes of new friends, conditions of the canteen and toilets, security in and out of the school, classroom behavior, attentiveness, and of course, the extent of excellence the child will achieve in his or her studies.

It is a new beginning for the child, a new horizon for the parents and a new experience for the teachers.

Multiple parties join hands directly or indirectly to get a child to school, i.e. the parents, the student, the government, the school bus driver, the school guard, the teacher, the headmaster, the school staff and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA).

We are lucky as we have perfected the art of our education system in a seamless manner for this aspect.

The point that I want to make is that a child enters the school system with a dream. A dream to acquire knowledge. A dream to be successful. A dream to be a leader. A dream to be a responsible adult. A dream to stand alone on his/her feet.

Though they are still young to dream, knowingly or unknowingly we have set up this educational system to build our future leaders, workers, managers, consultants, doctors, engineers, technicians and also some of the law breakers and who land on the wrong side of the society. No child is born bad. Parents, society and teachers are the ones who mould a child.

As school is a critical component of every child, it is important that the school focuses on moulding the child in a holistic manner without any racial or religious segregation.

A child is like a blossoming flower that should be protected from the negatives of race, religion or economic status. A child should be taught in all human values. There are too many societal problems today.

Gangster-ism, Rempit-ism, Ah-Longs, single mothers, alcoholism, early marriages, drugs are issues which our nation is facing. The age bracket of the youths involved in such crimes is between 15 and 20 years.

This is a dangerous phenomenon to ignore or avoid. Schools must take cognizance of these issues and every child must be educated from Standard One, as this will bring a sea change to our nation’s future. We would rather spend all the money spent in rehabilitating these youngsters into human capital development.

Communication is critical and important, be it among friends and family, colleagues and subordinates, parents and spouses.

A child must learn and the school must allow the child to speak in and out of the classroom.

Lessons taught must not focus only within the confines of the four walls but instead reach out to the park outside, the field across the street, places and buildings in the town or city; every place which the child is ensured to be acclimatised with the environment in the real world.

Public speaking must be made as an activity which can be assessed and ultimately contribute to a good student’s academic record. Focus on multiple languages besides our national language.

We have lost many decades on the argument that we are less patriotic by learning English as our second language. We should pay more attention to English, Chinese and Tamil as China and India are going to be the future economies of the world. Develop students into patriotic beings, with character and of less chauvinism.

We need no bigots; we require a generation that is truly nationalistic, understanding and tolerant. Every ethnicity’s culture and religion must be taught to everyone, to ensure a proper understanding of one another’s culture, lifestyle, festivities, food, and religion.

We should be proud of our diversity so that every child will learn these colourful practices which can be seen within our reach. Our current system has disrupted the oneness in our nation. Students of different ethnicity are taught to think as different rather than as one Malaysian.

Our drains, streams, rivers and our oceans are suffering from pollution. Start from Standard One – bring in environmental education so that every child will appreciate nature, learn to preserve our environment, and be sensible in what they use.

Create a society which disposes of rubbish sensibly and keeps our cities, towns and our homes clean. The overall health record of our nation is also very concerning.

Our children must be taught from young about the various illnesses or diseases plaguing our nation and the causes, the urgency to medicate them as well as the high cost of such medication and treatment.

Obesity is a serious issue that should not be handled by the Ministry of Health alone; it needs the cooperation and support of the Ministry of Education, too.

Poor eating habits have resulted in 13.3 per cent obesity, while the condition of being overweight is at 38.5 per cent.

Malaysia spends between RM4.26 billion and RM8.53 billion annually to tackle this issue. While the list of subjects in a classroom may increase, my suggestion is we must address social, health, national unity, leadership skills and language as critical matters when we are developing a child from young. Our biggest investment is our children.

The school should be the first and the best place start developing a human who is humane, tolerant, dynamic and conscientious of the environment in which he/she is in.

The function of education in schools is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character, is the goal of true education….Martin Luther King. — Bernama

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