Me No Stupid – The irony of the Malaysian education system

For more than 2 years I have been running a sole-proprietor entity where I hope to actualize my theory that Leadership and Environment are essential in Second-Language Acquisition. The idea was to do everything school isn’t doing. The logic was, if Malaysian schools are failing so miserably in teaching English as a Second Language shouldn’t we do the exact opposite to obtain some success?  How I’m reverse engineering failure.

To know how miserably school is failing is to know that the tuition or cram-school industry in Malaysia is a multi-billion dollar one. That is a lot of action for a tiny economy like Malaysia. It amazes me that people would pay 2 times to break something that wasn’t broken in the first place -a child’s ability to learn.  Workers pay taxes, school bus fees, uniforms, books, school fees etc to create this massive sub-economy to fulfill the compulsory ritual of surrendering their child to the state to be dumbed down.

Of course, parents don’t realize that. They think they are sending their children for Learning! So when children fail to learn, parents pay A SECOND TIME to send them to “accelerated learning” and “enrichment courses” that often duplicate the same systemic failure launched by schooling. These profit-making entities hire the same people who are products of a failed schooling system, the same way Malaysian Teaching Colleges recycle their own losses back into their economy.(Take in students who can’t get into university and college).

What’s even more ironic is that the schooling failure in Malaysia has created an opportunity for the same teachers who are cogs in the failure to OPEN A LUCRATIVE business pre-teaching to school-based tests! These teachers duplicate their classroom approaches in their paid-classrooms. The government pays them to fail us in our quest for learning and they charge us one more time to do the same thing. If this amazes, shocks or disgusts you, you must have had the lucky fortune to not live in Malaysia. Often, we cannot see a situation if we are ourselves trapped in the glassbowl.

After conducting a workshop last week on How to Help Your Child Succeed in the 21st Century with my theme on approaches to teaching, I was pleasantly surprised that there’s a niche group in KL who are enthusiastic about the idea of setting up an environment of learning where school has failed. It’s a very small group, but it’s a start.

The situation with schooling in Europe and the US and other Western counterparts is bad but Malaysia has developed a very unique response to our schooling failure. Teachers give out business cards to students to ask them to come for paid-lessons. French and German language teachers are utterly shocked that their Malaysian students tell them what is the norm in schools these days. They ask me, as a local ESL teacher, if that is true in schools I’ve taught before. But of course it’s true. Why else would I swear off any form of institutionalized education structure in Malaysia? Integrity is not something that is valued in Malaysia but to me it’s more valuable than a steady paycheck.

Who knows? I might live to see the day when I get paid not for how long I stay in the same inefficient organization but instead, get paid for my integrity to NOT want to work for them. Teachers pre-teach answers to be memorized. In other countries, it’s called cheating. Here, it’s called an opportunity to exploit stupid Malaysians. Are we Malaysians that stupid? I think not. I think we just need a point to gather our mob and tell them, “Me No Stupid”.

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