Are Our Students Stupid or Are We?

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Education, Freedom of Expression, Malaysia, Media and communication, Politics, Society


The US spend about 5.7% and the UK 5.3%. Malaysian spending is relatively high compared to other countries and we should be having no problem with skill and talents to transform from a middle income to a high income economy, Ramakrishnan (right) addeD -an excerpt from Malaysiakini, you can access the article here <“Fruits of Education Policy Flip Flops”>.

Is it that we are not spending enough money? That apparently does not seem to be the problem. Then why is it that we are not able to transform our students to fully functioning adults that are capable of contributing towards the transformation of middle income to a high income economy. Where does the problem lie?

Are our students stupid or are we? That’s the question that each of us should ask ourselves.

Is it that they are just so stupid that no amount of pouring of funds into this education sector will help pull us out of this dilemma that we are currently facing? Is it that simple? Can we hold on and actually honestly say that times have changed and students are just not as smart as before, they just don’t care anymore, they just could not be bothered…..they are just bottom line STUPID.

Coming from the point of view of an educator, I strongly disagree that our students are in fact stupid or that they cannot become fully functional adults that can contribute towards the economy, towards the betterment of the country. It pains me to hear the mention of the word ‘waste’ when it comes to the education of our students, our future leaders (by this I do not mean politicians necessarily rather leaders in their own right (from various fields/areas of interest). Are we truly wasting our resources, the country’s sweat and blood on education?

Hmm I’d say yes and no. Is resources being wasted? Yes. Are we wasting them on the students necessarily? Nope.

Well it is really simple actually. I think Malaysia has a syndrome. We love to see pretty things. We love when things APPEAR to be working even if the insides are all rotten or the insides have no substance. We love to see fixtures, designs, accessories ….basically anything that compliments the main entree or the main big idea. The problem here is that most often, our main big idea, our concepting is hardly apparent if there is any to begin with. Our main ideas always fall through the cracks. Let me give you a very simple example that I often relate to my students in their law class to demonstrate them why we should care or bother about politics about its effect on us, whoever we are!

Maths and Science in English

“I would not say it (English language instruction) was a complete failure, but it did not achieve what it was supposed to achieve,” Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

told a news conference on Wednesday.


– backed by the government and opposition parties, it is said that teaching these subjects in English would be phased out in 2012.

(read here, for a Reuters article <“Malaysia to End Teaching Maths and Science in English”>)


Flashback in time: Little Lesson on History of English in M &Sc

< 1957  English Medium of Instruction

>1957  Malay Medium of Instruction

2003   Review of medium of instruction, policy changed to English Medium of Instruction for Maths and Science ( in an effort to increase English speaking/writing skills among Malaysians)

2010 Due to pressure from certain parties( I say it just political will) the decision was once again changed and medium of instruction reversed back to Malay.


Hmmm now why the change of policy all of a sudden? Whatever happen to the plan, the policy of using English in schools to improve our students ability and competitiveness in the real world? Yes, I totally agree, perhaps the results are not as amazing as you would expect or want. But anyone who is a teacher knows for a fact that you cannot change a student’s ability overnight. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of time before a student masters or picks up on a skill that you might want him or her to learn especially if to begin with him or her have a poor command of the subject matter.

So, when our dearest education ministers cites decreasing grades as a reason for the policy to be reversed. I sit here….annoyed at the stupidity that is becoming Malaysia. We expect overnight changes, be in the our government, our political parties, our children, our environment, our everything. We believe that there is somehow this ‘fix it tape or secret glue’ of some sort that can immediately make things better, makes things work hence our predictability in regards to our lovely, lovely policies (and mind you this does not end in the education industry or sector but every single thing/issue/event/area in the country). Hence, we take the easy way out. We often opt for short term goals.

Exhibit A: Our Policy of English in Maths and Science

Exhibit B: Research Grant Abuses ( read here letter)

It is WE that are to be blamed!

WE teach our students to take the easy way out through the policies that we implement, the ‘excellent examples’ we set through action…

WE teach them that it is alright to take shortcut

WE teach them that it is all about the end product it does not matter how you get there

WE teach them  to ran away and back out at the sight or sound of any glitch or difficulty

We teach them all these things in so many ways, in the things that we do, in the actions that we take.. in the words that we partake in. WE TEACH THEM!

So don’t for even a moment tell me that our students are not good enough. They have been crippled! They gave been given crutches. We often preach about how the Bumis get the quota to enter local universities that render them helpless.

Are we not doing that to all our students, all those who are educated under the Malaysian education system. It is not that we lack students who are intelligent, creative, interesting, capable….. and the list goes on.  By this I do not mean the top scorers necessarily. Some of the most intelligent students (all rounders) are not necessarily the ‘swallow and vomit’ kind rather those who have been told that their talents are of no use or not a talent, those who hide in the shadows as they do not conform, those who could not be bothered because we have taught them not to care (for fear of them becoming smarter or overpowering us -politically, economically, culturally …). If I continue to give my current students the tools, the knowledge to understand the bigger picture of life, if I could, I can tell you that they would overtake all these sad people that are in the driver’s seat and they would indeed be able to contribute to the betterment of this country!

National Education Policies….Malaysian Plans (year after year), the funneling of millions and millions of dollars are not going to be of any use to our students if we do not teach them better by example!

If we continue to throw chairs and tables and ugly words at each other during parliamentary sessions!

If we continue to flip-flop our policies to suit our agendas, politics, our religious fanaticism..

If we continue to take the easy way out each time and teach them to run instead of fighting for what they believe in..

If we continue to mould them into nothing but robots that can only absorb but not react!

Now, tell me are we stupid or are our students stupid?






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