Be an Innovative Society
Whenever I am overseas, in the so-called developed countries, one thing that strike me is that life in Malaysia is so much cheaper. Things are so much more expensive, even a fried Hor Fun in Auckland can cost around 15 NZ $ , more than RM 30, compared to about 4-5 bucks in Malaysia.
What strikes me is that hourly wages are so much higher in the West than in Asians countries like our own. Because of the much higher pay, the workers have a very laid back lifestyle, unlike their Malaysian counterpsrts who often work themselves so hard but still find difficulty in making ends meet.
The problem is , in most of the so-called developing countries, we are unable to raise our wages much higher without losing our competitive edge. If Malaysians are paid the pay of the Americans, for example, we will probably priced ourselves out of the market and killing our economy. This is because what we are producing are also being produced by other countries , and if our goods are dearer than other countries , we would lose our competitive edge and no one would buy our goods, killing our economy and in turn , our workers would lose even their low paying jobs.
So the way for us to go is we must lift our technological level and create, not just manufacture, new things that will become a world trend. Like what IBM did wit the personal computer , and microsoft did with all its softwares.
If we can create certain ideas and translate these into things that can will of demand all over the world, we could charge a higher price than , say just a ton of palm oil or a proton car. The latter , if the prices are raised too much, people will always turn to alternative sources.We must be able to produce things that are in demand but not readily produced in other low wage countires, in order to raise the wages of our workers and raise the liviing standard of our people.
To be able to do that, we need to not only revamp our whole education system, but the ways our worfkorce think and functions. We must create an innovative society. We need to change the whole concept of learning, the whole concept of education. It is no longer enough just producing graduates for the sake of producing graduates, especialy the types that are not easily marketable.
The whole concept of education must be changed. For the first step, creativity and not spoon feeding must be encouraged. Basics like Maths and Science (how things function as they are) must be emphasised, but apart from that, students must be taught to be more creative and teaching should channel towards producing thinkers.
I am unfortunately not an educationist ( i always have the utmost respect for those in the education field, because they are the architects for the future of the country), so I would welcome any ideas that can make our chiidren and our workforce more creative. For one thing, I always believe that a person who is too overworked and have no time left to think for himself cannot produce new ideas. So a child must not be overloaded with too much of spoonfeeding. A lot of things are now readily available in the internet and it will be more important to teach a person how to look for those info rather than just spponfeed certain facts to the students.
It is another form of teaching a person where to look for fish, in addition to teach him how to fish, rather than just give fish to the person.
For another thing, I think the ability to master the English language is very important, especially because new knowledge and ideas are being produced so fast that any ‘people’ that need translation of new knowledge into their own languages would find that when the translation is done, the new knowledge would be old thinking already and these people will always be behind time in knowledge. There are a few exception like the Japanese, the germans and now the Chinese, because these people have already a vast base of knowledge and hence new ideas can easily be reported in these languages. But basicaly, for a people to move forward, a good command of the English language, which is the internet as well as the world language, is necessary.
It is a pity that Malaysia, which had such high standard of English language even as late as the 60s, has lost a generation of good English teachers. To retrain a new breed of good English teachers wil probably take one or 2 generations, Maybe the idea of bringing back the English school is good and maybe now is the time to bring back the English school. Do not let the so-called narrow nationalist thinking retard our way to move forward, if we really want to have a better life for our people in future. ANyway, the younger Malaysians all have a very good grasp of the national language and the time is ripe to bring back the English school perhaps.
I would welcome your views on how to make our education system produce thinkers rather than just plain graduates with no marketable skills.