RANJIT: Profession being seen as last option for graduates
PETALING JAYA AUGUST 27, 2012: THE education system needs a total overhaul of not only its curriculum but also basic infrastructure. Educationist Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi said the problem with the schools was not the students but shortage of quality teachers.
"Our education system is being screwed up by the poor quality of teachers and an overdose of social re-engineering, and no amount of education reforms is going to help if we do not address this stark reality," he said in response to the government's plans to reform the education system.
Ranjit said the decline in quality teachers was because the profession was being seen as a last option for graduates.
"Teachers do not have the right attitude when approaching the profession in comparison to countries like South Korea and Finland, where they are from the top 10 in the graduating class," he said.
"Candidates there are also put through a rigorous selection procedure and selected based on meritocracy."
Ranjit said Malaysian teachers had also lost touch with the whole purpose of teaching, which was seen more as a job than a vocation.
He also stressed the need to revamp the teacher’s training programme.
"Most lecturers and professors do not know what is critical thinking," he said.
"If lecturers and teachers do not have a good understanding of critical thinking, how can we develop that in our students?
"Many lecturers in universities are poor in their delivery, using predominantly instructional strategies in class."
Ranjit said teachers must be able to not only give instructions but inspire by employing various teaching methods.
"Well-trained teachers would be able to tackle the different learning types and slow learners," he said.
"Attention must be given to all students regardless of their exam performance."
He said a syllabus which did not encourage students to think would result in a myopic generation that cannot evaluate through critical thinking.
MALAYSIAN students are only good at reciting from text books but cannot comprehend and analyse information, said Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi.
PETALING JAYA AUGUST 27, 2012:He said the education system mostly emphasised learning through rote memory or memorisation, and local examination papers focused primarily on lower-order thinking skills.
To illustrate this, Ranjit revealed that a Masters of Public Administration examination paper from a top local public university had only tested the students on their ability to collect and understand information.
"The questions tested students on memorising skills, while ignoring the more important aspects of learning which include evaluation, synthesis, application and analysis, which are higher order thinking skills," he said.
"At Master's level, students need to be learning how to apply the knowledge they learn and not just cram facts to pass a test."
A questions offering 25 marks in the same paper asked students to "describe the strategies that should be followed in order to implement ISO9000 in an organisation".
He said such questions required students to regurgitate textbook answers with no critical thinking.
A critical thinking question, on the other hand, would be one that required a student to apply the knowledge he had learned for problem solving, said Ranjit.
He cited a Diploma in Human Resource Management test he set for students in his class as an example of testing critical thinking.
A question, also offering 25 marks, reads: "Select a particular function of Human Resource Management such as recruitment and selection, training or performance evaluation. Discuss action steps that can be taken based on Total Quality Management’s philosophy to improve it".
Ranjit said higher order thinking was necessary as worldwide trends moved towards a reduction in acquiring content to what was really necessary.
"Today’s workforce does not require an employee to read the Encyclopaedia. Instead, people who survive learn how to learn, because skills and knowledge are quickly outdated," he said.
He also stressed the importance for students to "learn how to learn from young", pointing out to neighbouring Singapore’s initiative.