Saturday, August 06, 2005

British Books for Malaysian Schools

This article from today's New Straits Times describes a project initiated by The Centre for British Teachers (an organisation I used to work for, by the way): pupils in schools in rural areas will be receiving books contributed by schools in Britain to encourage the learning of english.

I applaud anyone who puts books in the hands of kids and encourages them to read.

But is it necessary for an overseas agency to do what the government here should really be doing by itself? Is this country so impoverished that it cannot afford to equip its schools adequately to cater for growing minds? Surely books for schools should be among a country's first priorities?

Wouldn't it be nice if the CfBT project could shame the Ministry into releasing adequate funds for every school to have a decent library?


porty said...

Well if anyone can do it, you can :)

Anonymous said...

If the desire to read/learn is not there, it doesn't matter where the books come from right?

A former student 85-86

Yvonne Foong said...

Thing is, schoolchildren in this country are so pressured for good exam results that they have limited time for leisure reading.

So the newspaper would be favourable since articles are a lot shorter and requires less time to digest.

I don't think our country is putting enough efforts to improve the education system.

Chet said...

"So the newspaper would be favourable since articles are a lot shorter and requires less time to digest."

Or else a good magazine with short stories, or a serialised novel for them to read, and at the same time, improve their English.

porty said...

Yup.. people here, I think, have shortish attention spans. Or maybe that's just in the city I dunno.

bibliobibuli said...

porty - thanks for your faith in me! maybe i should do a greenpeace thingy and scale a building with a big banner saying ALL KIDS DESERVE BOOKS! ... but i don't think the message would get through even so ...

anonymous - precisely! and that's the very reason that teacher have to put the desire there! put books in the hands of kids and they get hooked ... get them hooked and they become readers ... I've seen it happen over and over in my teaching

yvonne - goodness you've recovered from your marathon session online! the newspapers are not suitable reading material ... honestly, are they interesting???? (hope my editors don't read this!) give them stuff that will excite, stir, challenge them ... and kids learn best from reading, not from mindless cramming for exams ... and where's the dilemma? don't send 'em to tuition classes to repeat the stuff they are supposed to learn in school anyway and give 'em time to read ... maybe also switch off the moron box and the 'puter for a while ... and maybe parents could set an example and read themselves along with their kids ... hey, that's pretty radical!

chet - good idea. but don't be patronising to think that kids can't cope with real books. given the chance they will ... and this is a project that will give kids the chance ... and maybe when the ministry of ed. see that kids are reading and that the scheme works they will be prepared to put the books in more kids' hands ...

hmmmm ... and the trouble with your good idea is that someone needs to actually do it ... are you volunteering?

porty - sadly true ...

porty said...

LOL.. who volunteers to tie the bell around the neck of the cat ? :)

porty said...

It gets me that Aesop is still right after all these years :)

Anonymous said...

Sharon, not a good idea for the Malaysian government or ministry to get involved even if they should for the following reasons: (1) It will then get very politicised with someone wanting to make money out of it;
(2) the books to be provided will be dictated to by the ministry;
(3) A great deal of red tape - no books until civil servants at various levels have considered the various working papers, have a number of meetings where they drink very sweet tea and santan rich cakes, and then await the signatures of the various officials who may be overseas on important study trips, and then ... the decision maker gets transfered to a more important ministry because he/she is very efficient at getting things done - so the process starts all over again. THREE YEARS LATER, Sharon Bakar would be asking, so where are these books?


Anonymous said...

Oh, did I send you Raja Petra's bedtime story? That would make good reading for kids- turn them into a thinking, discerning and critical group. It would even pass the censor's scissors because they would have no idea what he's on about.


bibliobibuli said...

Animah - I have the sinking feeling that you're right, of course ... And hey yes, Raja Petra's story would do fine.

Chet said...

"the trouble with your good idea is that someone needs to actually do it ... "

But is it feasible?

malaysia is no future country said...

It is true NEP has its good and its bad points depending on whose view you are looking at it.

The non-bumi has been straddled with this law for a long time and I can see lots of dissatisfaction emerging from their rank. This can be seen by the ever-increasing number of emigration taking place as well as non-returning students from abroad.

I cannot start to call them traitor, as some of the bumis here seem to imply on them. Put yourself in their shoe first and feel the full effect of the discrimination for over 30 years……….Do you think you will be happy? Anybody?

Want to know why the so call non-bumis are all running away from Malaysia for greener pasture as bumis call traitors and rats? Know that even rats must be wise to jump ship when the ship is sinking.

The government has been pushing the unity theme for Malaysia for a long time - The so-called Bangsa Malaysia. How do you unite people? How are you going to unite people of different races where one race enjoys more rights than other races? Unity can never happen if there is inequality.

So, if you don't want people to comment on your special rights, then don't talk about unity in front of the non-bumis.

The next reason why the non-bumis keep on condemning the special rights is because of the implementation of it. Does every bumi has the chance to enjoy their special rights? From what non-bumis have been seeing since the past till now, only the rich and powerful are enjoying it. The poor bumis are still poor. How many poor bumis were transformed from poverty to middle class?

Sure, what you talk about your experience might be true if you put it in a nutshell. You cite examples of success cases and stories which is what it should be. But don't use special rights to deny a fellow deserving Malaysian of that chance too.

If you don't trust your fellow countrymen, whom in the world are you going to put your faith into?

The reasons have been given, countless in fact. And I believe you can also see it for yourself what kind of state Malaysia is in now. No unity, no improvement in the competitiveness in Malaysia.

I believe no community will get stronger if it depends on protection all the time. In face of globalization, each one must pull its own weight but work as a team. Otherwise we go down together.

Even when we were children we were taught the strength of sticking together. Ultimately, we probably won't affect policy much. But it will satisfy me to know, someone reading this, will accept my argument. If only one person reads this and is willing to change their way of thinking, then I have succeeded.

Because they will then carry that idea to the next person.

Like myself, I will seriously wish that my future children would not have to endure the same pain as I did. The system hasn't changed much in the past (even if they do change, the change usually isn't beneficial to non-bumis), and as I can foresee, the system won't change much in the future too.

I know things cannot be as ideal as everyone would wish. We all are persevering. Nevertheless, when there is a better opportunity worthwhile to pursue, we will go for it.

bibliobibuli said...

malaysia is no future country - I thank you for your very honest views. I think you are putting into words something that a lot of people are thinking and feeling. I know plenty of people (bumis too) who would agree with you.

But I remain (rightly or wrongly) an optimist. Malaysia has so much going for it ... but badly needs openness and free debate on the issues that matter with all sides actively listening.

snowdrop said...

Two and a half months late, but I just had to comment on the newspaper and magazine/short-story reading thing - personally, those were precisely the type of materials that put me OFF reading. They're often badly written, with bad grammar and limited vocabulary. In the case of news, it leaves no room for imagination (but LOTS from scepticism!), and in the case of short stories, there just isn't enough time for character and plot development.

Thank goodness for good ol' children's books like Enid Blyton's and 'Little House on the Prairie' series. Put aside the political correctness agruments for a while (to a child, a golliwog is just a golliwog, ok, a nice, different-looking but just as well-loved doll) and give the child the benefit of the doubt that given the right stimulus, he/she WILL have the interest and attention span to follow through on longer stories - or even series of stories. How many adults would read a series of adventures that spanned 15 books?

bibliobibuli said...

snowdrop - agree with you entirely

i don't think newspapers are much fun for kids for leisure reading (although they should be used in English lessons) ... and I grew up on enid blyton - political incorrectness and all!

malaysia too bad said...

The non-malays have heard this one before - If you think that Malaysia not good, please go out this country.

Umno has been brought up to think they are the prince of the land.

Every time they get cornered, Umno will tell the other race to go out where they belong. I think Umno must change their thinking or they will pull down the country to the middle age.

So far there is no Umno leader that can lead them to be modern 21st century citizens.

Rather Umno is anti this or anti that. There is no forward looking and thinking to break free perspective.

Malaysia developed nation on year 2020?

The problem with Malaysia ministers is that they are mostly underachievers academically!

That is the reason why they simply speak without logic and reasons. This is also the very reason that I admire Lim Kit Siang, Karpal, etc, who can debate intelligently with those monkeys who never bother to understand what is uttered.

Just compare the resume of Malaysia ministers with that from our southern neighbour! Then you will understand.

I know their prime minister has a first class honors in science from Cambridge if I am not mistaken. The rest of his cabinets are very highly qualified. Hence you don't hear nonsense from them.

For your information, some Malaysia ministers would not be at all qualified for even an assistant post!

Our country leaders, not necessary meaning the prime minister, but overall people in power, people of authority etc, have no integrity, no moral, no self respect and most of no accountability and responsibility.

Let's not compare with other countries, as no countries have perfect leaders, but what they have is integrity.

When they do something wrong and they know it is wrong, nobody need to tell them to resign, they won't say our Malaysia usual line "Nobody can resign me except the prime minister" - we should call this the ball-less line.

If you have integrity and honest enough, you should just resign.

This is why Malaysia is moving backward. With this kind of ministers who are not willing to tackle the root of the issue, but instead blaming others for exposing bad news and sweeping things under the carpet - what hope can you foresee for Malaysia in the future.

Perhaps we should have "Look Africa" policy, rather than "Look East" policy - since a lot of things are similar between Malaysia and Africa countries except oil.

run away from malaysia said...

For those who are already in oversea and live comfortably. There is no reason for you to come back to Malaysia. Life in Malaysia is getting tougher each day.

Frankly, as a Chinese, I don't see there is any future for our next generation.

Another dangerous mentor that people always use is JFK "Don't ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country".

Is sound nice, but isn't how German Nazi and Japan militarism started the world war using the same mentor? Under the great "ask what you can do for the country".

Patriotism? Yes, I understand how you feel. Your love for the country was spoilt by the political party. Since non-malays will always be a second-class citizen, so you are probably the same in any other countries, if not better.

You get cannibalised by your own countrymen, intellectually and professionally.

As someone else advised, be a Global citizen.

Patriotism does not need you to be in Malaysia to work your due. Let no one pointed at you and say you are a traitor if your true intention is to generate good deeds for Malaysia wherever you are.

Save your time about coming back to Malaysia. Nothing will change in Malaysia. At least not even in this lifetime. Racism will still be here to stay, and also everything else.

I think there is such an entrenched discrimination against the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, that it will take probably a whole generation to undo the damage.

This is happening in whole spectrum of the Malaysian government, civil service, state governments and universities. Just look at percentage of malays in all these government bodies - 98%……….

A whole generation of malays has been brought up to think that it's their inherited right to own Malaysia. The other races are damned.

I think the malays especially those in power, are scared right now that if they will to compete openly with other races, they will surely be the loser. You will see very strong resistance to hire other races even the most qualified.

The malays are never brought up to compete on even ground. This is fault of previous PM and now the present PM has to tread a balance ground to ensure the malays are not cast away as well as to make Malaysia competitive worldwide.

In US I never met a malay immigrant, although there are thousands of Malaysian Chinese and Indian immigrants. Why? Malays in Malaysia have an easier life where they are literately prince of the land.

We have infrastructure good enough to be considered first world or better. Look at the Cyberjaya, Petronas Twin Towers, Putrajaya?

Gleaming high-rise buildings but also in every city, dirty toilets abound, litter clogging up the drains, public telephones damaged, plus unreliable rubbish collection and disposal. We just treat public facilities badly, not caring about others.

Being an urban dweller myself, I am constantly disheartened by the poor public infrastructure and upkeep in our capital city.

Faulty pedestrian traffic signals, illogical positioning of bus stops, poor public cleanliness, poor quality sidewalks (which are paved using slippery tiles), un-integrated and poorly managed public transportation system, the list goes on.

Your children can't even walk safely along the Kuala Lumpur streets, as they might be bags snatched, kidnapped, murdered, raped, or robbed, as they do not know the jungle laws of Malaysia. The police won't help much as they now have a big pile of corruption cases running after them.

You owe nothing to Malaysia, you pay your due, so live on.

So, my last advice. Don't come back unless you are really suffering in oversea.

I'm sorry this sounds very racist but I think we have to be honest in discussion.

bibliobibuli said...

(the above comments are spam and posted to a number of blogs - obviously to stir up mischief - if anyone wants the ip number i have it safe. i believe in free speech but this is totally unpleasant - just using someone else's blog to shit on. i also discovered that the writer is writing from within the country and is probably not chinese as he (must be a he!) says he is ... learn the lesson and don't believe what anonymous posters say.

i would delete the comments but i can't find the little rubbish bin icon)