Malaysia wants to become a developed nation by 2020. I think all Malaysians want this country to become a developed nation and the year to attain a developed nation status has been set by our beloved Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. All Malaysian must know what it means to be a developed nation and all Malaysians must have the same understanding of what a developed nation means to them. In my opinion, a developed nation must have the people and the infrastructures developed to such level that the quality of human life and lifestyle reached a level of satisfaction and contentment for its citizens. With this definition I think there is no country in this world that has ever reached the status of a developed nation. The present criteria used to define a developed nation is based on the average income of the country’s population. In order to reach the status of a developed nation by the year 2020, our present government is working hard to increase the average income of the people. Our Prime Minister is aiming in increasing the monthly income of Malaysians so as to reach the status of a developed nation. Is the amount of money that the people earn in a country will determine the status of the country? I agree that with more money people can buy more things but the quality of human life and lifestyles are not directly proportional to the amount of money the people have.
In order for Malaysia to become a truly developed country, the first action that the government must take is to make education available to every citizen. Every person irrespective of their age must be able to study. Education must be made affordable and available to everybody. Every person should be encouraged to study from the day they are born until the day they die. This is the philosophy of learning in Islam. Islam encourages learning and Prophet Muhammad saw used to say, go and learn even if you need to go to China. In other words Islam gives priority to knowledge and Muslims in all age groups must continue to learn till the day they die. To learn is the order of Allah and every Muslims must learn because it is the order of Allah and the intention of learning should only be to please Allah. Allah loves someone who is studying and every Muslim must be given the opportunity to study throughout his life. Every Muslim who wants to study must be given the opportunity to learn. The intention of learning should not be to obtain degrees and certificates or to obtain jobs. Someone who learns because he or she wants to obtain a degree will definitely stops learning once he or she obtains the degree. Someone who learns because he or she wants to obtain a job with his or her degree will definitely stop studying when he or she gets the job. The intention of learning should only be to please Allah alone.
Education should be open to all and made available to people of all ages. Every person should be encouraged to study and to become educated. There should not be any minimum qualification required in order to enable a person to study in a university except to pass the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination. As currently practiced, it is necessary for a person to have a certain number of credits in his or her Malaysian Certificate of Education examination in order to enable them to study certain courses at the university. When we have the philosophy of education for all, such minimum requirement is not necessary in order to qualify anybody to study in a university .University education must be open to all who want to study and they can study any courses that they are interested in, provided that they passed the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination. In case they fail any courses at the university, they should be allowed to repeat as many courses as they wish. No one should be stopped from studying because they have failed in any examination. Examination should be looked as a means to ensure that the student knows what they should know and not as a mean to test how much they know. It is not very important how much they know during the exams but what is important is that they have the minimum knowledge and skills that is required to become a member of a certain profession. Examinations will ensure our graduates to have the basic knowledge and skills necessary for a certain profession. We should produce graduates with better knowledge and skills by exposing our graduates to longer practical training in their respective fields.
We can have examinations but examination results should not hinder people from continuing their studies. A person who failed an examination is not necessarily stupid or incapable of pursuing their studies. The result of an examination only indicates that a person failed to answer the questions given in that particular examination paper. Examination results do not indicate the intelligent or the skills the person has. Examinations are to tell the students, their strength and weaknesses. Every Malaysians who has passed the Malaysian Certificates of Education Examination should be allowed to proceed to university education and become educated. This is what it means with education is for all and this is in line with the Islamic philosophy which encourages its followers to study from the cradle to the grave. We can have examinations but examination should not be used to hinder people from studying. All Malaysians should have university education and be able to study courses of their choices. In case they failed the examinations conducted by the university they should be allowed to repeat the courses as they may wish to and to finally pass the courses.
We can have examinations but our emphasis should not be on the results of the examination. Examination is only to show our weaknesses and strengths. Age should not be a barrier to seek knowledge and to study and all Malaysians of all ages have equal opportunities to study in the courses of their choice. In order to make Malaysia a developed country, its citizen must be highly literate and educated. All Malaysians must be made compulsory to study until Malaysian Certificate of education and no entrance requirement shall be required to enter a university except to pass the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination. After passing the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination, they can enter a university for three years and obtain a basic degree in sciences or arts. After obtaining the basic degrees they can continue to obtain other Professional degrees which may take two to five years of university education.
The more Malaysians become educated the more developed the country will be. We have to change the present educational system that gives so much emphasis on examination results. When much emphasis is given to examination results, less emphasis will be given to knowledge and skills. Nowadays parents are worried about examination results of their children and they spent so much money on extra tuition classes for their children after school. Students, instead of studying all the topics of the subjects, spent much time spotting exam questions and answering past examination papers. When the results of the examinations are released the press and the public give so much attention to the results of the examinations. When emphasis is given so much on examination results the spirit of learning decreases and peoples lose interest in studying. We may maintain the present UPSR and PMR but all students must study up to SPM level. Every person may study up to the university level and to proceed to professional degrees. Every person is allowed to take any amount of time to complete their degrees as long as they pass all the prerequisite subjects of their courses.
Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia