Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mis-Education of Amir Hafizi

I spent some time with someone - a Malaysian - who went through the American Education System. We were, of course, discussing the Malaysian Education System Super-Saiya (MESSS).

My whole family is in education. They are either teachers or in the education department, making and implementing policies for education.

Growing up was also tough as my father stressed on education. I grew up under the impression that if I get a B, I will be roasted alive and eaten. I never got a B until I went to high school, which was essentially prison because it was an all-boys' school.

It wasn't the run-of-the-mill all boys' school either. It had stuff you only find in prison. That kind of shit.

And then I was in UM - Universiti Malaya - or Malaysia's best university. I remember thinking, if this is the BEST university in Malaysia, all the other colleges and unis combined would have the educational value of a dog kennel.

Our education system is extremely bad. As a product of that same system, I risk devaluing myself, but the truth is the truth.

The focus of our education system is not about learning. It's about how to beat the system. Our MESSS is set up to train our kids, our young, not to be book-smart, but street-smart.

All throughout my education, I felt like I was growing up in the Bronx, that I was black and I was just an inch away from getting the police shooting me up in a bust or something.

I thought I could do something about it, so I went and became a lecturer for a while. What I experienced was a self-governing, self-destroying and self-feeding system akin to the Ouroborous - the serpent who eats its own tail.

The pressure is not for kids to acquire knowledge or skills, but to pass exams. Heard that before? Yeah, but have you realised that this constant message over decades has seeped through to the kids as well? They have learned the system, our system, the MESSS, and they just want the certificate.

Put aside the politics and hear me out. I believe that our education system, our MESSS, is a symptom of our delusion as a society and as a nation.

We are NOT a first-world country. We are NOT a developed nation. Most of our stuff are not that good. I mean, what do we have? Industry? China beats us. Cheap labour? China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, even Thailand can throw a million people a day, each with a degree, earning RM1 per month before we can even say skilled labourers.

Political stability? Thanks, assholes.

Culture? We have an education system designed to snuff out any interest in the so-called arts. That's why people who end up in the 'art industry' are usually those who failed early on in life. I'm not saying they're bad or stupid. I'm just saying that our MESSS sabotage the arts for decades by painting it as a sub-par bullshit thing. And it's still doing it.

My batch was the first one in high school without an arts stream, without even a social science stream. ALL of us were in the science stream. Why? Because the Government wanted us to become engineers and doctors because engineers and doctors make lots of money.

Here's a secret, kids - NOT ALL DOCTORS AND ENGINEERS MAKE LOTS OF MONEY. I got a whole bunch of friends who are doctors, lawyers and engineers, and they're not rich.

Oh, by the way? Rich is either having RM2 million cash, or making RM20,000 a month. Below that, you're poor. Below RM3,000, you're like, crazy poor or some shit. That's not me talking - that's the statistics and how they brand you. Except for the RM20,000 part. That's just me.

Okay, so MESSS kills art every year. We focus on science, right? So we must have the best technologists and innovators in the world, right? Malaysians must be inventing shit like robots and dildos that transform into robots and shit, right?


I have never heard of a Malaysian inventing anything significant. A few years ago, maybe more, there was a guy who could start his car with his watch. His name was Zul something. Saw him on Berita TV3. Where is that guy? Did Knight Industries hook him up?

All that focus on science, and we don't even have inventors and scientists who could invent something as shitty as an exercise machine made from bamboo that they can sell on shopping networks?

I'm a huge, huge Dr M fan, but I believe his policy of forcing or cajoling (forcing) kids to take up science stream courses in college was and is a recipe for disaster.

I believe that while Singapore is worried that their Gen-Y are a bunch of whiny, lazy assholes, Malaysia is squandering our youth as we have always squandered them before.

Why? Because we're delusional. Saying everything is okay and sleeping on it is Pak Lah's ostrich policy. I believe we must acknowledge that our MESSS is a mess and then work towards improving it.

Admitti8ng you have a problem is the first step towards fixing it. I don't think it's a lost cause at all. I don't think ALL Malaysians are stupid. I don't think the country is crappy. I just believe that it can be improved.

And it's not on the shoulders of BN, because I believe BN and the Government have consistently failed for the past 55 years to improve the quality of our human capital.

I also believe that PR is even worse because they are exactly the same fuck-ups with the same attitudes as BN, but pretending to be holier-than-thou.

I believe it is all up to us to change society. How? If I knew, I'd say it already. But since we're all science stream majors, doctors, engineers and shit, we should be able to come up with a solution, right?

JUst a word of advice - if you have kids, send them overseas for schooling. If you plan to have kids, make sure you have enough money for that. If you have kids NOW, today, you would need a million bucks, 20 years from now, for a basic degree programme in Australia.