Monday, August 2, 2010

Will parents please speak up?

While I was browsing through the Ministry of Education's website, I came across this circular issued recently : Pelaksanaan sistem pilihanraya ketua murid di sekolah-sekolah.

I feel very passionate about this issue. I grew up as a prefect in school and back then, we held elections to select our Head Prefects. Our peers were given the choice to select their own leader. Students worked hard to shine. They acquired leadership skills and were able to practice them in school.

However, with the issuance of this circular by the Ministry of Education, students in school can no longer have a say in choosing their own leader. The principals of the schools can now appoint anyone they wish to be Head Prefect/School Captain.

This is how the Barisan Nasional government wants to educate our students : to tell them at a very young age that they really do not have a choice and they must accept whoever is given to them to be their leader. Favoritism is being promoted here and this circular effectively robs students of the democratic experience and it retards their growth. It kills the chance for these students to know what choice is.

So if you are a parent and your child may have all the qualities which present him the opportunity to lead, this circular has just taken that opportunity away from your child. And will you remain silent?


Z said...

A pillar of a democratic society is an informed electorate. Already we are faced with a high concentration of young people who will become eligible to vote in time to come, and already we are not doing enough to increase the social and political awareness of our future generation. The phrase "pelaksanaan sistem pilihanraya ini adalah tidak sesuai untuk dilaksanakan atau DIDEDAHKAN kepada murid-murid sekolah" reveals possibly the true motive behind this directive: In the mind of the government, the electoral system, where individuals are given the right to choose their representative, should not be something to which our next generation are exposed to. This is utter rubbish, because elections always happen in school, be it for head prefect or for other things (even winners of competitions!). The worst part is that these kids might grow up thinking that elections might be applicable for everything else, but when it comes to choosing the representatives, we should comply with the governing body's selected favorites.

KoSong Cafe said...

I was lucky to have 2 daughters elected/selected (not sure which) to serve as Head Prefects in St. Bernadette Convent, Batu Gajah. I was apprehensive when my younger daughter wanted to be a candidate, 2 years after her sister, thinking that it might be unfair to others, was given to understand that there might exist some rotation system, but I was wrong. Rest assured, I did not have enough influence to be able to do anything, even if I wanted to. As I have said, I did not feel comfortable at all, but as it turned out, my younger daughter must have this spirit of emulating her sister which made her decide to take on the competition.

This is something which might be a problem in our politics where nepotism is such a dirty word. We should weigh this aspect of an individual's ability rather than condemning nepotism per se. A good example of this is that of YB Lim Kit Siang and YB Lim Guan Eng.

In Convent Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, there are three Indian sisters who were Head Prefects! This must have been a record. Again, since they are not from an influential family, everything was fair from what I know.

I would agree with you that if the system changed to that of choice by Headmaster, then undue influence in the form of favouritism is likely.

ong said...

The practice of appointing 'ketua murid' instead of being elected by their peers is a mirror of the practice of all BN political parties. Their state heads are appointed by the party president instead of being elected by members. By the time our children grow up with the system of their 'ketua murid' being appointed instead of being elected, they will assume that having their leaders forced on to them instead of being elected is a commonly accepted universal practice in democracies.

The danger of such a system is that instead of cultivating leadership skills, it teaches children that it pays to curry favour with those in authority.

A little digression. I was told that DAP is one of the rare Malaysian political parties where all party leaders including those at state level are elected and not appointed by a single dictator. If this is true, I hope such a system is not changed to the feudalistic system practiced by BN and even other PR parties.

ong said...

KoSong Cafe,

You wrote:

"This is something which might be a problem in our politics where nepotism is such a dirty word. We should weigh this aspect of an individual's ability rather than condemning nepotism per se. A good example of this is that of YB Lim Kit Siang and YB Lim Guan Eng."

You used "Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng" as a "good example" to illustrate your points but unfortunately you did not do it in a clear and unambiguous manner. From my point of view the way you had worded your statement can mean one of two things:-

1. LGE became the DAP secretary-general by virtue of his own personal ability and capability and not because his father LKS, by an act of nepotism, placed him in that position, or

2. LGE became the DAP secretary-general because his father LKS, by an act of nepotism, placed him in that position.

Perhaps you don't mind clarifying?

KoSong Cafe said...

Sorry, for not making my point clear. What I meant was situation no.1.

Some people have criticized LKS for nepotism, and to me, it was a clear example of how his son could not only shine, and if I may say so, outdid his father by capturing Penang state!

I thought by stating that we should not condemn nepotism per se, it was obvious when I gave the example.

I am glad I checked Hannah's site again for more comments and found your question addressed to me. Thanks Ong, for highlighting it, otherwise others might get the impression that I was criticizing them!

If YB Lim Kit Siang and YB Lim Guan Eng had been offended by my ambiguous first comment, I extend my sincere apologies to them.

Ttevor T said...

Until and unless we change the policies/govt, we can expect BN to continue coming out with these third world policies which does not bring progress to the people and nation as a whole.

Getting the parents to speak up, yes it's the best thing, but how many parents bother to, thus how effective can it be..... I really doubt it will work.

In order that it does not rob our students of the democratic experience and retards their growth and knowledge of choice, we as parents should continuously educate them by telling and explaining carefully to them what should have been the right way, and why things are like this in this country.

Depending on the age of ones child, there are ways to put the words simple and clear, so that our children knows the situation/ problem we are facing in this country.

I dare to say, even if during my time, the govt cannot change, my offsprings will then be educated enough when they grow up to understand on the shortfalls, and will continue after me to put the vote to people like you and your comrades at PR, that is for sure.

Another words, whatever the corrupt BN govt can do now, they will have generations after generations of Malaysian always pondering for a change.

If we cannot beat them now(BN),we can keep educating/informing our you ones to always pursue for CHANGE........... wave after wave we come.

KoSong Cafe said...

YB, I have posted a reply to Ong which I have yet to see it published.

I respect your right to moderate your site, but unless my comment is considered malicious or unsuitable for whatever reasons, any attempt at censorship will really disappoint me.

I would agree that my mention of nepotism would have been considered out of your topic of discussion, but having published my first comment, I think it is fair that you should allow my reply to Ong be published.

Thank you.

K S Ong

Anonymous said...

Both methods - by popular votes and by the HM have their pros and cons.

I am from the famous Penang Free School and if I remember correctly during my times (in the 1960s) prefects and head boys were not picked by the students but by the school.

If you are going to view that the HM may be corrupt or choose a head prefect/prefect because of undue influence or political or parental pressure, then voting by so-called popular votes can also be swayed.

I hope Hannah will not politicise this issue and always looking at every BN move as a wrong and corrupt move.

Have faith in the HM.

Fern said...

I do not necessarily want to place my faith in the HM of a school. My school holds elections every year for head prefect, with campaign managers, fliers and an inauguration ceremony to boot. We put our blood and sweat into the election campaign, but it was all worth it, because we all loved the idea that the election of the head girl was ultimately in our hands.

Now, if my HM had the autonomous power to select the head prefect, it will be a mess. My HM never really bothered to get to know us pupils. For example, she didn't remember the name of the top girl in my form until she placed 10th in the country in SPM last year. How can a HM know which student to choose if she dosn't know them personally? There also may be cases where the sanguine will capture the hearts of the teachers, even if she/he is not a capable leader. However, the students who work and play with the possible candidate know better.

One thing, why are circulars that are sent to schools not made public? ie newspaper, online media etc. Most of the time, we have no idea what is going on until we are given a shock on the day it is implemented.