educate, not manufacture

principle 7 of the declaration of the rights of the child says:

the child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. he shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.

there’s nothing about education being only about gaining “in-depth knowledge” and that “an educational institution is hardly the place to gain experience or form opinions.” if you were to wait for the workplace to “give you true experience, clear opinions, and show you the right direction” as this [insert expletive of choice] suggests, you’d be too brain-dead by the time you exit the comfort of school to even recognise true experience, clear opinions and right directions if they were standing right in front of your face.

i hate blaming the education system for making me who i am, simply because there are too many examples of people who have managed to survive the mind-numbing process that is malaysian public education and emerge as outstanding members of society. however, i doubt anyone can deny that every person who is a product of our government schools could have been that little bit better if we acknowledged that how useful we are to the local and international community has alot to do with our experience in school.

i resent the system for almost never encouraging us to pursue our dreams (only 3 teachers have ever urged me to continue writing, and one of them is singaporean), for labeling us as “science” or “arts” at the tender age of 16 and for imposing a paternalistic form of education from the start. we are taught that if we want to do well in school (read: score 20 A1s) and be successful (read: earn lots of money), we have to answer questions this way, using that structure, in the following format.

God forbid if anyone asks a question in class! who are we to question our teachers?

anyway, i am too tired today to continue ranting. the bottom line is, i believe i would be a better person if i weren’t patronized in school and university. i would be a much happier learner if i were treated with respect and encouraged to pursue the things i loved instead of made to focus solely on getting those darned As.

the damage our education system has done is close to irreparable. i just can’t believe there are still people out there who limit the impact that formal education can have on one’s life.

wake up, people. education, like medicine, requires a holistic approach. we need thinking citizens, not robots who can follow orders.

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