19 August 2013

With a Sigh ( Pt 16 ) – Endless journey to World-Class

I cannot help heaving a heavy sigh every time I read the catch word ‘world-class’ related to Malaysian education. We read and hear how we establish schools, colleges, universities and all at nothing less than of world-class. But when our universities slipped in position to below 200 world ranking, we would rather claim that the yardstick was not suitable to be used to assess our education - the great ‘world-class’ of our own.

The standard of English has deteriorated so badly that we had to import Americans, Australians, Indians and all – and yet here in this country are still thousands of experienced teachers who made the standard of English among Malaysians admired and envied by many countries, and who are prepared to return to class-rooms to lend a hand today, if only they are being approached. Of course most of them do not have Masters, let alone PhD’s. Many were awarded simple Diplomas but with knowledge and experience enough to teach our new PhD holders.  

On 17th August I found something of interest to read in NST. “Towards world-class and quality education” ran the heading. It talked about the nation’s education system which “will continue to experience transformation for the next 13 (thirteen) years through the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 …..” I wonder if this ‘blue print’ is closely akin to the very familiar ‘road-map’ in the Middle-East conflict with road designed by the super powers to end up in the arid desert sand. So I said “Ha, Ha !” instead to suppress my heavy sigh.    


Two days earlier NST, in its SPOTLIGHT, carried the story of Victoria Institution, the oldest school which celebrated its 120th anniversary.

Often referred to as VI, this school nearly had its name changed, once to Sekolah Menengah Victoria and on the second time to Sekolah Menengah Jalan Hang Tuah. Many would probably question the resistance to change. Why should we continue to keep the name which, after all, commemorated the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria ?  How could we try to make Malaysians imbibe loyalty to Malaysia as long as we keep them reminded of our humble days? To make us truly Malaysians, if need be, we must remove traces that remind us of colonial days to reflect our current world-class stature.  We have done many changes, the likes of Batu Road, Jalan Mountbatten, Telok Anson, Port Swettenham, Jesselton and so on !

Because VI has managed to maintain a lot of its traditional ‘Britishness’, it is today, probably, one school in our country unequalled in its all-roundedness, from academic to discipline, games and all. Given that small autonomy, the Principle and members of staff have continued to uphold the school’s dignified performance and achievement in many fields. The school does not take pride in all A’s. No, but it is among the best in many areas, the boy Scouts, school football team, societies etc. It is a Malaysian school that can claim to be a world champion school band. Its alumni consist of many notables, not to mention Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the five top richest men in Malayisa, ministers, sportsmen, and if I may also rope in Awang Goneng ( lawyer, journalist and author of the bestseller AMap of  Terengganu of Trengganu ) who makes his occasional appearance here.

Personally it is my regret that I failed to get into this prestigious school to do  my Higher School Certificate ( the present STPM) way back in 1956 and, instead, had to be satisfied with SJI ( St John’s Institution ), a close rival of VI’. So I failed to have my name in ‘also there’ league of ex VI. Fortunately I can breathe easy because, today, in some devious way I have a link to that school. I will save this story for one of my future entries. So, despite all these, I can still draw a sigh of relief.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk Kemanusiaan


kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
You’re spot on, Sir! I’m not really taken by these newspaper headlines. We’re good where indicators show we are. All the ranting and the hollering that we are will not mean as much. And when we talk of education it is basic. Just make it a school of choice. We went to English schools before because everyone clamoured to be there.

When our present Sekolah Kebangsaan is a school of choice then all will fight for a place to be there. There is no necessity to lament enrolment is dwindling or only Malays are there or whatever. How to make it so, then those in the Ministry must put on their thinking hats. But one thing that they should think seriously about. Bring English back!

Incidentally, I was in VI. When we were in Primary schools (here in KL)we were told to ‘get into the best schools in town in Form One. Do well in the Std 6 exam and get into VI, St John’s or MBS or MCKK’

His Royal Highness the Sultan of Brunei was in VI around late 50’s or so. We used to see the Rolls Royce stopping by at the porch in the mornings before classes. I was in Form One and our classes were fronting the porch on the Ground Floor. I don’t quite remember how long His Highness was in VI. I had left for the FMC(later RMC) by then.


Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum wr wbt.
Dear Sir, My wife and I would love to visit you in K.T on our next visit. Where are you located exactly?

Al-Manar said...


All along I thought you are just OP not VI as well. So you remember how RR drove into school compound - did not have a chance to befriend him did ypu ?

I wonder if you recall one Mustapha Awang who went to RMC in 1954 (std 8 then) and later to Sandhurst. Had he not been killed in a helicopter crash in Sarawak he would, I believe, be the No 1 in army one day. He was a fantastically fine army officer whom we, his old friend, sadly miss at the prime of his life.

Al-Manar said...


Waalakum Salaam, my friend.
Of course we would love to meet you both. I tried your blog in vain to find how to conttact you privately how to het to us. Would you please email us: almanar@pd.jaring.my

I can detail you our location. Perhaps you would also let me have you phone contact for urgent message.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
1) We were awed at trappings of affluence. I thought 2 of the Royal siblings used to be ferried every time.

2) Allahyarham OP Maj-Gen Datuk Mustaffa Awang was a soldier's officer. A perfect gentleman, polished and regal in bearing. He was a super senior to me. But I had glimpses of him during OP functions as he was our one-time OP President (President of our old boys' association)

Yes, he was due for high office in the Armed Forces when he together with Allahyarham Brig-Gen Datuk Bond Hasbullah Yusuf and Lt-Col Johari Selan(my clasmate) perished in the crash. Al-Fatihah!


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pakcik,
The obsession to be categorised in the "world-class" league is the corollary of globalisation, and the inclination of those who earned their PhD's from ivy-league universities in the US to be amongst the best in the world. What is relevant to us is whether the education system can turn out individuals who are first and foremost God-fearing and live an honest life imbued with the values of integrity, work smartly and be of service to their fellow human beings and the environment. The system should be producing those who are adaptable, balanced and able to lead the people and themselves in upholding the ethics and morality of living in a multiracial society. It is of no use to have a world class education which produce inviduals who are greedy,utterly materialistic and dishonest not only to others but with themselves. The timeless qualities of our past education system which focussed on the basics of living and relating to society is more fundamental than a world-class upmanship.

ahmad humairi said...


Salam Merdeka!

Sedikit demi sedikit imej kolonial dipadamkan di Malaysia. Bukan membantah, namun kita mahu membangun mengikut acuan sendiri yang tidak menidakkan sejarah. Memang ramai yang membantah apabila Penjara Pudu didebukan!

Juga turut dibantah - PPPM (Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia 2013 -2025)ini yang dikatakan tidak peka atau tidak menghargai sumbangan besar sekolah aliran vernakular yang telah menghasilkan ramai cendekiawan di negara kita.

Pernah suatu ketika pegawai bank mentertawakan 'Ramly Burger'(..hah haaa......mana ada orang melayu makan burger!!!) apabila beliau membuat permohonan pinjaman untuk perniagaan burger - kini 'Ramly Burger' sudah dikenali....sekadar contoh.

Tidak dinafikan kekurangan pada sesuatu idea, dan kita perlukan pemurnian ke atasnya.


Anonymous said...

your entry was two days ahead of another related subject in NST’ headlined ‘Boost for Science’. We ( I mean our gods in education )are now looking at teaching of science in school, another ‘blueprint’ for teaching of science. “ Science teachers who graduated with Bachelor of Science in Education will be given the opportunity to further their studies at the master’s and doctorate levels …” . The DG ( the Director-general of education ; not DimoGog ) was reported to have said that ‘science teachers would be provided with a new career path.’

Now what do we say to that? What will the Mathematics, English, Bahasa Melayu, Arab, China, Sejarah and the rest of the teachers say about their own career paths? Will the School principles have their path as a Professor? I suppose all these are there in the ’13-year blueprint’. I pray my grandchildren will be teachers, who would then no longer be called ‘teachers’. I ha, ha with you, my friend. Do you remember our teacher whom we all knew was a failed science graduate whom we used to laugh at? Yet we had a dentist, a doctor, engineers and lawyers among our class-mates, all of whom graduated from overseas universities, never known as ‘worldclass’ at all! But our English teachers, Mrs Bruce and Mrs Patton were pure English breed without a word of Malay, and that Mr Higgin trying to get us interested in Latin. Will those days come back with the ‘blueprint’?

Al-Manar said...


I guessed you would remember that Major-Gen. Such is life, dear Hank. What we can do is to offer them AlFatihah with a prayer.

Al-Manar said...


Dear AHS, what you write reflects my way of thinking. I am sure those on top have similar thought in mind. On one hand I think it is the result of too many good and highly qualied cooks, losing sight of the ground. There are modules and formats resulting in children growing like robots. We even had two ministers for different levels of education, not to mention deputies.

Al-Manar said...

Cikgu Humairi,

Wassalaam Alaikum WRMTLWBRKT

Pendapat seperti inilah lah yang patut diketengahkan untuk dikongsi bersama.

Ramly Burger satu tauladan yang baik. Cuma saya lebih suka Ramli dan Fahmi dari Ramly dan Fahmy. Burger pula apa pula dalam bahasa ibunda? Disini kita ambil senang ambil saja hak penjajah dan tukar ijaan Melayu supaya selaras dengan dunia luar. Kalau dulu kita eja Quran sekarang saya nampak Koran sahaja pun ada.

Selamat Merdeka (boleh kah Merdeheka?)

Al-Manar said...


Those were the pre merdeka days. You are like me - outdated with ancient philosophy.

Thank you for reminding me of the real English teachers. Mrs Bruce had a Masters degree. I remember you being Mrs Patton's pet!

I will give you a 'nasi kerabu' lunch for your rare comment.

norzah said...

it's always a pleasure to read your entries in this blog, Pakcik, for they are full of good memories and honest-to-goodness critics nicely told. I've as much today about the current claim to world-clas this and that, modesty has gone down the drain and false pride has taken on wings.
Well, I'm only an onlooker now and can only ride on the opinions of influential people which I support. So, go on with your good mission and I wish you a be a belated Selamat Hariraya, maaf zahir batin, if such a message from me had not reached you in one of my comments to Akhi Halim and others.

Al-Manar said...


When I notice you I feel sorry fror not saying hello to you. Blame it on human nature - jauh domata jauh dihati.

You started with the act of scratching my back. I can go at length doing it to you.

I have just left a note on your door. We talk the same language on
related issues, dedar Norzah.

You were holding high positions in the governement. I think you are seeing how things are done the way it should because of your background and experience. OPs from FMC have something similar, marching straight ahead with precision no nonsense. I recall My old classmate, Mustaffa Awang. You know him too I am sure being of the same breed.

I wanted my first son to join the same school many years ago, then in Sungai Besi. We took our son there with great hope and expectation, only to be politely told - very sorry. He had all what they needed, minus glasses! So we could only go he next best.

Hari Raya pertama dand ke Enam jhave left us. Let us pray that we all will see the next one, Insya Allah.

ninotaziz said...

On a more 'frilly note', As a young girl in Seri Puteri, I was a gymnast first, a band member second, a poet and finally, a student last.

And as a member of the all girls band, we adored the VI band, very often coming in second to VI in the Federal Band competition. St John's was usually in third place). The highlight of the band life included practice for the National Day parade and the famous VI Tatoo night.

Sigh, Pakcik, your post has made me thinking about the days - to be a young girl again….

Al-Manar said...

Dear Ninot,

Was it Seri Puteri or Kolam Ayer? I prefer the latter just as I like the memory of the Old Malay Girls' College where I paid many a visit - unsure whether to see her or a glimse of her friends!

We can think about those days. But let it be with gratitude for having come this far and having been given what we own today, children and all. I am sure you would not relish the thought of being on stage beating your drum instead of reciting poetry and old folklore anf being admired.

ninotaziz said...

You are absolutely right pakcik. Alhamdulillah...

Anonymous said...

Salms Pk Cik
Slmt Hari Raya to Pk Cik n Family.General Mustafa was in Ipoh those days.Remembered Mus lovely n charming wife.Mus gave his wife a kiss on her cheek when he left home before the fatal crash.
I was wondering what went wrong with the helicopter.


Al-Manar said...


WaalaikumSalaam Wawa

I am not surprised that you know that personal farewell kiss. The death was a tragic loss to the country. The cause of crash was not likely to be a sabotage. His end had to be then. AlfFatihah to him and his friend