The obstacles that make education inaccessible in Malaysia.

by Darya Ebrahimi

THE foundation of a successful nation in the 21st century is without a question its intellectual resource, which in turn is substantially formed by its educational system.

As aptly stated by Lester Thurow, “The dominant competitive weapon of the twenty-first century will be the education and skills of the workforce.” So it implies that transforming Malaysia into a wealthy and sustainable economy is dependent on its educational system. In order for our young Malaysians to succeed in the disruptive and quickly changing workplace of the future brought on by the fourth industrial revolution, we also need to equip and "future-proof" them.

We don't need outsiders to tell us what's wrong with our educational system and how to fix it. Our country's ability to compete on a global scale, as well as the productivity of our organisations and the wellbeing of our citizens, will suffer if we fail to alter our school system using systematic and fundamental change.

It is obvious that our educational system requires rapid and significant change. Malaysia's Form Two students only received 465 in maths and 471 in science in the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), while Singapore received 621 and 597, respectively.

In terms of reading proficiency, Malaysian students came in at number 50 out of 72 nations, at number 45 in mathematics, and at number 47 in science, all of which were below the equivalent OECD mean results, according to the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2015 report.

What information, skills, beliefs, and character qualities should students possess to enable them to flourish in the dynamic workplace and to participate constructively in society as ethical citizens? This is the first step in reforming our educational system in Malaysia. Malaysian students should have sufficient subject knowledge (conceptual understanding), be self-confident and goal-orientated, compelling and effective communicators, demonstrate authenticity and a solid work ethic, be adaptable, fast, self-directed, self-reflective, and lifelong learners, show good interpersonal and teamwork skills, and be productive. In order to do this, educational institutions should focus on developing students' intellectual, emotional, moral, spiritual, and other types of intelligence as well as their physical health and artistic sensibilities.

Furthermore learning should move away from constant memorization and regurgitation and towards conceptual understanding alongside real-world application. Classroom learning should be limited and replaced with active learning. From the current one-size-fits- all that is practised all around the world, to a more customizable learning environment.