Building schools for all Malaysians?

By Azly Rahman
Nov 14, 2014

I am hoping that either the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat will take up the idea of this new brand of schooling to propel to country into a new era of educational reform as we approach 2015.

The initiative should be started by the Selangor government run by Pakatan to showcase what the BN regime has not been able to do in meeting the schooling and human capital needs of the 21st century, as well as for national unity. I have been writing about this model for years and have even proposed to educational leaders from both governmental camps. I call this initiative Akademie Renaissance (AR) Schools and would like to see it come to fruition in my lifetime.

This initiative will propel the state of Selangor into a major phase of educational reform, partnering in its effort to showcase the nation and other countries a model of a truly global school that harmonises technology, culture, and total human development from the level of kindergarten to graduate school.

It will have its mission in preparing children to become global citizens and experts in the fields of study they will choose as a career, through a systematic process of schooling of the highest standards, from kindergarten to high/secondary schools.

The educational objective is to create ‘academies’ that will become ‘feeder schools of choice’ (specialised) to prepare students for entry into top Asian, American, British, and other world universities of high standing in which English is the medium of instruction. The initial project will be the building of secondary/high schools.

They will be modeled after the most innovative of educational philosophies whose vision is to create thinkers, innovators, and life-long learners who will be successful at all phases of learning and will contribute to the betterment of society and to Malaysia in general.

They will be based on a curriculum that is distinct from the governmental school, focusing on English Language as a lingua franca as the medium of instruction so that the students will be prepared for entry into the world’s top ranking colleges/universities whose language if instruction is English. A high level of proficiency in this language is therefore necessary as skills mastery.

Faculty members will consist of those from diverse local and international backgrounds, skilled in the art and science of teaching and committed to the principles of highest academic excellence and global education, and student emotional and cultural growth.

They will be the premier college preparation schools which will give admission priority to the best and the brightest of children of the poor of all races in Malaysia. The aim is to provide the best quality education to children who come from families who are in the worst economic conditions and to give them all the opportunity they will need to be successful enough to give back to their families and community.

A criteria is also to give priority admission to those whose parents have never had a college/university education and to orphans of all ethnic background.

Alleviation of poverty regardless of race

The vision of this new genre of schools is to have a population that reflects the true composition of multi-ethnic Malaysia who will further demonstrate that they will still continue to succeed against all odds and be leaders with a conscience clear enough to contribute to one of Independent Malaysia’s two noble goals of development – the alleviation of poverty regardless of race.

The schools will not only be internationally-linked as ‘university-college-lab-schools of global-experiential learning’ in which the curriculum is based on cutting edge 21st century informational-society driven paradigm of learning and teaching and expected outcomes, but also will be architecturally innovative; one that will harmonise not only the elements of living much needed in the 21st century but also be culturally-intellectually responsive.

In other words, these schools in all states in Malaysia will have a unique design that will harmonise tradition and modernity.

These experimental schools will also be an educational facility for community education and entrepreneurial activities linking local production of cottage-industrial artifacts to the global market, utilising advanced digital, cybernetic, and virtual communication technologies for students to help the local community to participate in the global business.

In the area of community education, it will also house specialised galleries showcasing historical artifacts of from local-historical materials collected and curated by students, with the help of faculty.

They will essentially be ‘research-driven college prep schools’ in which at every level of learning, students will be employing primarily scientific thinking as a means to acquire and produce knowledge and to further create artifacts useful both for the advancement of theoretical knowledge as well as those practically useful for society.

In essence, Akademie Renaissance (AR) will be 21st century schools showcasing best practices in global education and will have the state as a first campus.

I hope there will be an interest in experimenting with this radical-humanistic change. I hope it will come from the Selangor government if it wishes to show commitment to meaningful reform.

DR AZLY RAHMAN, born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in four areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 350 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored six books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), and Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia’s ‘New Politics’ (forthcoming 2014). He currently resides in the United States where he teaches courses in Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Political Science, and American Studies.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Saturday, 15 November 2014 - 9:38 am

    D author may b charged under d Sedition Act 4 interfering with d UmnoB/BN’s DIVIDE-n-RULE education system here

    Right now, there r many different schools under MOE
    Many of them r EKSklusif 4 Malay students
    UmnoB still manipulating d education system

    An example:

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Saturday, 15 November 2014 - 9:45 am

    Just IMAGINE d OTHER way round
    A Muslim student WILLINGly join da da da …………
    Will heaven n earth MOVE?
    What will bcome of d school’s headmaster n teacher?

  3. #3 by Justice Ipsofacto on Saturday, 15 November 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Umno say we already have the best in the world and are at the moment busy striving to be the best-est. Best-er than all the best-est in the world. This is because umno intend to take us to planet mars and challenge the martians and conquer and colonise them and teach them all about Malaysia – cara umno of course.

    So thank u Azly but no thanks.

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 15 November 2014 - 12:34 pm

    If only our elected leaders have got half of what Dr.Azly has got to offer. Politicking is so prevailing in a nation that is bent on self destruction because of greed of Party that refused to see beyond their families and cronies. Just look at how the Republicans in the US wanted to apply their immigration rules to attract IQs albeit Obama is bent on ensuring the next Democrat get the support. Indeed if Selangor/Penang can pull this off, maybe we can hope for some top 100 institutions by the next generation. Concrete and mortar are just the cover, the students are the input hence the US in spite of their rather unimpressive school system is able to attract the Best grey matter the world over to its top universities; {and we may be a small contributor to this group]. So shall we wait to see if the Gomen of these 2 states have the gall to pursue this!

  5. #5 by bangkoklane on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 - 10:20 am

    There should be choice for parents. Bring back English medium primary and secondary schools with POL classes efficiently organised.

  6. #6 by good coolie on Friday, 21 November 2014 - 2:27 pm

    Show, first, that the present national schools serve all the communities well. If they do not, then improve, and improve. Then you will see people leaving the National-Type Schools to study in the main-stream schools without being asked to do so.
    As for the Ministers and other really rich folk sending their children to study in International schools, I am not complaining. Why can’t we chose the best for our children, if we can afford it?

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