"All writings are in both English and Bahasa Melayu, firstly written in English and then, followed in Bahasa Melayu. (Coretan adalah menggunakan kedua-dua Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu, ditulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan diikuti dalam Bahasa Melayu.)"


Jobs ! That is what we need.

About two-third of our almost 30 million population is a working population. And, out of this 20 million, about 7 million is still without jobs. Out of 13 million employed, about 3 million are foreign workers. That means close to half of jobs for the 7 million jobless. Very well, some of them are students and retirees. But, I guess half of the 7 million without jobs are those not active looking for jobs, and there must be good reasons on why they are currently being discouraged to look for jobs actively.

One of the key diseases of the Malaysian society is the over-reliance on foreign workers. If one walk around anywhere in this country, one will notice the presence of foreign workers almost everywhere - from petrol stations, restaurants, supermarket and hotels to production plants and farms. So many of them such that if you were happen to lost your way and stop at any guy nearby to ask for direction to a place - you will probably won't get any help at all. At times, one just feels that this is not Malaysia but Banglasia.

The standard reason is off course that it is much cheaper to hire these foreign workers than local workers - and this is for two reasons, one is that their wages are lower and second, their productivity - in terms of willingness to work extra hours and ability to do a lot more - is also higher. And, the opposites can be said about the locals. Well, no one would dispute that, but if one simply accepts that as a valid reason, then there will always be a substantial number of locals to continue to be out of jobs.

Some would simply argue that the influx of foreign workers is the main reason and hence, has argue for tighter policy on it. Others, on the other hand, would argue that locals are simply refusing to take those jobs currently occupied by the foreigners. However, isn't it natural for businesses who always seek to maximize their profit or, alternatively, minimize their cost would surely prefer to employ foreign workers if there is such opportunity? The availability of an abundant supply of foreign workers in itself discourage businesses to adopt new production process that rely more on higher skill workers and less on low skill offered by foreign workers.

Perhaps, the solution is to create a conducive environment for new job creations for the locals are therefore important - jobs that commensurate with right wages and skills for Malaysian. Spending money on constructing new tall buildings and highways seems to create new economic activities. Unfortunately, however, it seems to benefit foreign workers rather than opening up new job opportunities to the locals. Foreign workers also tend to send back most of their money back home and only spend for necessities and hence, while there is an indirect effect to the locals, it is likely to be very minimal.

Perhaps, the society should seriously start reducing the number of foreign workers available to the society itself. Off course, there will be a crying by certain segment of the society that this will kill their business and add to higher cost of employing local workers. But, for the sake of the society to progress to higher level, the society ought to be willing to destroy these industries that compete on low and cheap labour. Putting the businesses into a new environment of non-availability of cheap foreign workers might push them to adopt new production process that is able to offer higher wages and be attractive enough for locals, and over time will like to lead to emergence of new business activities and hence creation of new types of jobs.

For those industries that cannot and do not have desire to change to new business process, they by all means should perhaps leave this country and move to other neighbouring cheap labour countries. There will off course be a period of temporary suffering of lower income for the society as a whole. But, if we were to progress, we ought to be willing to take this path.

Fuh ! something to ponder indeed... (An unfinished thought)


Limau Masam

"Today is very easy - soalan bocor", said my son when I asked him how did he find his exam paper.

I just smiled and sipping my coffee, while browsing news on the new education blueprint. Well, it appears to be a quite comprehensive one and certainly an enhancement of the previous blueprint. I must admit though, that I did not read them thoroughly. But from my quick glance, I sense that there are three key areas. One is the higher targets of achievement such as a 100 percent enrollment of all kids instead of about 75 percent currently, and all students now have to go through 11 year of learning and no drop out after form three. Secondly, the assessment as I understand it will continue to be based on some form of standard examinations, but there will be a more balance approach in assessing students. Equal weight will now also be given to soft skills such as leadership, thinking-ability and innovative mind among others.Thirdly, the management and running of the education system will also be decentralized, through empowering states agencies and schools themselves to manage education affairs, as well as enhancing teaching profession itself through appropriate remuneration, retraining current pool of teachers and educators, and attracting best talents to become teachers.

"So everyone should be ok then?", I sort of asked him. "I think many people will get A", replied by him in his usual Manglish, "Yesterday also got soalan bocor, but I didn't know about it."

Year after year, the same old story simply keep on repeating that exam questions somehow got leak out, and it has become a custom among students and parents, as well as teachers, to look for potential questions that would come out in the exam. Some got lucky and the exams to these lucky ones are merely a repeated exam with the same set of questions. To the unlucky ones - sorry dudes!

Well, while I am quite sure the young generation and students are now much smarter than we were years ago, but I still think these leaked questions still significantly contributed the extremely good examination results in past recent years. Thus, some have questioned the reliability of the degree of goodness of results, and whether our education system has been really successful in producing the bright young for our future. The society ought to realize that leaked exam questions would have a bigger detrimental negative effect. The availability of these soalan bocor simply make the examination as a failed screening device separating - a devise to separate the really good students from other student. In the end, the society would be having the classic lemon market problem - one does not able to accurately differentiate between good and bad lemons as they look the same, but taste differently.

I thus wonder whether some of the students who got their places at boarding schools and universities were actually sour lemons - and at an opportunity cost of foregoing some of the sweet ones. The consequences would, therefore, be that we have not been efficient at maximising the potential gains from our pool of young generation as some of the students that we had spent time and money to developed them at universities to be the future brains of the nation were not out of our best talents.

The peer pressures among schools to show continues improvements in getting good results might have overdone it, such that the ethical responsibility of the teaching profession to really educate our kids has become a secondary importance to many. Perhaps, the failure by the education administrators to ensure that no examination questions are being leaked out at all points of possibilities is also important. The culture of most parents that are always on the look out for opportunity of getting leaked examinations so as to put their kids at advantage than others' kid is also need to be corrected. The perception that has percolated among students that there will always be availability of leaked questions would also naturally discourage some students to put full energy and efforts to really learn and understand every angle of the subjects. In fact, to some, tuition is far more important than what is taught at schools. Some even said to me that the exam results were also subject to manipulation by the Education Ministry itself, where the benchmark points for getting As and Bs are not the same for all years, but could be change from time to time. Indeed, far from trying to put blame on any single person or group - we are all responsible for this stupidity.

One can has the best blueprint and education system, but if the screening devise is malfunction, sadly to say it will fail the whole system. So, what is a missing piece in the blueprint, in my mind, is the emphasis on ethical aspect of the system and the assurances that in the future - for whatever is the form of assessment and screening devises - the risk of their malfunctions would no longer re-occur. Otherwise, the society would once again engage in debating our education system and to redraw another big blueprint.


"Hari ini mudah sikit - soalan bocor", kata anak saya apabila saya bertanya tentang peperiksaannya.

Saya hanya tersenyum dan menghirup kopi, sambil melayari berita mengenai pelan tindakan pendidikan baru. Ianya nampak seperti satu pelan tindakan yang agak menyeluruh dan penambah baikkan kepada rangka tindakan sebelumnya. Saya tidak lah membacanya dengan teliti. Tetapi dari pandangan cepat saya, terdapat tiga penekanan utama. Pertamanya ialah sasaran pencapaian yang lebih tinggi, seperti pendaftaran persekolahan sebanyak 100 peratus dan bukan hanya kira-kira 75 peratus daripada kanak kanak pada masa ini, dan semua pelajar kini perlu melalui 11 tahun tempoh pembelajaran dan tiada lagi keciciran selepas tingkatan tiga. Kedua, kaedah penilaian akan terus berdasarkan kepada peperiksaan standard, tetapi akan ada pendekatan yang lebih seimbang dalam menilai pelajar. Penekanan yang seimbang juga akan diberikan kepada kemahiran insaniah seperti daya kepimpinan, keupayaan memikir dan berfikiran inovatif. Ketiga, pengurusan sistem pendidikan juga tidak akan hanya berpusat di kementerian pelajaran. Sebaliknya, pengurusan pendidikan akan dipindahkan ke agensi agensi negeri serta sekolah sekolah dengan memberi kuasa untuk agensi agensi pelajaran negeri dan sekolah sekolah untuk menguruskan hal ehwal pendidikan mereka sendiri, penggunaan IT yang lebih menyeluruh, serta melaksanakan program untuk meningkatkan profesion perguruan melalui latihan semula dan menarik bakat terbaik untuk menjadi guru di masa hadapan.

"Semua orang patut ok lah hari ni?", sampuk saya lagi. "Saya rasa mesti ramai dapat A lah", jawabnya lagi dalam separuh dialek utaranya, "Kelmarin pun ada soalan bocor jugak, tetapi saya tak tahu la pulak."

Tahun demi tahun, kisah yang sama akan berulang. Soalan peperiksaan entah bagaimana pasti akan terbocor keluar. Dan ianya seperti telah menjadi adat di kalangan pelajar dan ibu bapa serta guru-guru, untuk mencari soalan-soalan yang akan keluar dalam peperiksaan. Pada pelajar sangat bertuah dalam mendapat soalan bocor ini, peperiksaan kepada mereka hanyalah seperti peperiksaan yang diulangi sekali lagi dengan soalan-soalan peperiksaan yang sama.

Apapun saya agak pasti bahawa generasi muda dan pelajar masa kini adalah lebih bijak daripada kita pada tahun tahun lalu. Akan tetapi, pada saya soalan-soalan bocor ini masih menyumbang kepada keputusan peperiksaan yang sangat baik pada tahun-tahun kebelakangan ini. Tidak hairan lah apabila sebahagian daripada kita telah mempersoalkan tahap kecermelangan sebenar keputusan peperiksaan, dan sama ada sistem pendidikan kita ini benar-benar telah berjaya dalam menghasilkan anak muda yang bijak untuk masa depan negara. Masyarakat harus sedar bahawa soalan peperiksaan yang bocor akan mempunyai kesan negatif yang mungkin sangat memudaratkan. Ketersediaan soalan ini bocor hanya membuat sistem pepriksaan untuk gagal berfungsi sebagai satu alat penapis - untuk memisahkan diantara pelajar-pelajar yang benar-benar bijak dari pelajar-pelajar lain. Akhirnya, masyarakat akan menghadapi satu "pasaran limau" - satu keadaan dimana seseorang tidak dapat membezakan diantara limau yang baik dan kurang baik, kerana semua limau tampak serupa di luar, tetapi sebenarnya mempunyai rasa yang agak berbeza.

Pasti lah akan terdapat kalangan pelajar yang telah mendapat tempat di sekolah berasrama penuh dan universiti sebenarnya adalah pelajar limau masam - dan pasti terdapat pelajar limau manis yang tersisih daripada mendapat peluang ini. Kesannya ialah kita telah gagal untuk memaksimumkan potensi sebenarnya untuk menghasilkan jumlah generasi muda yag benar benar bijak untuk masa hadapan negara dan pastilah sebahagian daripada masa dan wang yang dibelanjakan untuk mereka di sekolah asrama penuh dan universiti merupakan satu pembaziran.

Tekanan persaingan diantara sekolah-sekolah untuk menunjukkan penambahan tahap pencapianan dalam keputusan peperiksaan dari tahun ke tahun mungkin telah belaku secara sangat berlebihan sehingga tanggungjawab dan etika profesion perguruan untuk benar-benar mendidik anak-anak kita tidak lagi menjadi satu keutamaan utama pada sesetengah ahli masyarakat. Kemungkinan juga, kegagalan oleh para pentadbir pendidikan untuk memastikan bahawa tiada soalan peperiksaan yang terbocor keluar juga telah menyumbang kepada perkara ini. Budaya kebanyakan ibu bapa yang sentiasa mencari kemungkinan terdapat soalan bocor dan dengan itu menguntungkan anak sendiri daripada anak anak orang lain yang tidak berpeluang untuk mendapatkan soalan bocor juga perlu diperbetulkan. Persepsi di kalangan pelajar bahawa akan sentiasa terdapat soalan bocor juga secara semulajadi mungkin akan menggalakkan sesetengah pelajar untuk tidak berusaha bersungguh sungguh untuk belajar sepenuh hati dan memahami setiap sudut mata pelajaran. Malah, bagi sesetengah pelajar dan ibubapa, tuisyen adalah jauh lebih penting daripada apa yang diajar di sekolah. Terdapat juga anggapan bahawa keputusan peperiksaan juga tertakluk kepada manipulasi oleh Kementerian Pelajaran sendiri, di mana markah untuk mendapatkan gred A dan B tidaklah yang sama pada setiap tahun, tetapi boleh berubah dari masa ke semasa, sehinggakan perbandingan kecermelangan dari tahun ke tahun tidak begitu tepat. Tidaklah kita hendak menyalahkan sesiapapun dalam hal ini - tidak lah sekali. Kita semua sebenarnya bertanggungjawab tentang kebodohan kita dan masyarakat ini.

Sememangnya kita mampu mempunyai pelan tindakan dan sistem pendidikan yang terbaik di dunia, tetapi jika peperiksaan gagal berfungsi sebagai penapis sebenar dalam memisahkan pelajar cermerlang dan pelajar biasa, maka ia akan akan menyebabkan kepada kegagalan kepada seluruh sistem pendidikan itu sendiri. Kalau ditanya pada saya, apakah yang masih belum mencukupi dalam pelan tidakan pelajaran yang terbaru ini? - pada saya, ialah ketiadaan kepada penekanan dalam aspek etika kepada semua ahli masyarakat dan jaminan bahawa pada masa akan datang - untuk apa jua bentuk penilaian dan rangka peperiksaan - yang perkara sebegini tidak akan berlaku lagi di masa hadapan. Jika tidak, masyarakat akan sekali lagi membahaskan sistem pendidikan negara dan akan sekali lagi merangka pelan tindakan pendidikan yang lebih baru lagi.