by Azly Rahman
Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Three cheers for people of Sarawak for making
English the state’s official language, besides preserving the status of
Bahasa Malaysia. This move makes a lot of sense than the game the
federal government is playing vis-à-vis the refusal to insist the
teaching of strategic school subjects in the English Language.
have written a lot on the issue of the radical educational reform we
need for Malaysia to move forward and the importance of emphasising
English language will always be my key interest.
politicians and educational leaders know the importance of the English
language but too weak to make a firm stand to counter the ill-informed
arguments and politically-motivated educationally-unsound schemes of the
champions of Bahasa Malaysia. We could have gotten two generations of
citizens well-equipped in riding the oftentimes dangerous waves of
globalisation, in our dream of becoming a ‘high-income’ nation.
Back to the intelligent decision by the leaders and the people of
Sarawak. I think it is the beginning of the renaissance of Sarawak
education, a platform to take off and to soar towards greater heights,
leaving the world of heavily politicised and language-political-tribal
dead-end of the policies of the Education Ministry when it comes to the
use English as a language of instruction.
As a global
educationist interested in intellectualising schools and suggesting
Radical Social Reconstructionism as a philosophy of schooling, I want to
suggest the Sarawak government what could work as a new path to
schooling; a path that should complement the decision to make English
language its second official language.
I wish to see Sarawak educators and policymakers embark upon what I
call ‘Renaissance schools’. Here is a concept that can be adopted by the
chief minister. To honour the work of the philosopher Plato, I will
call the new initiative, Akademie Renaissance.
The idea is for
the government to collaborate in developing innovative schools of the
21st century proposed to be called ‘Akademie Renaissance’. This
initiative will propel the state into a major phase of educational
reform in its effort to showcase the nation and other countries a model
of a truly global school that harmonises technology, culture, and total
human development from the level of kindergarten to the university.
Together with progressive partners in education, groups will spearhead
and steward this major innovation in Sarawak or East education providing
the intellectual and education infrastructure (from planning to model
building and architectural design to continuous evaluation process) to
establish this new series of educational innovation efforts.
Akademie Renaissance (AR) will have its mission in preparing children to
become global citizens and experts in the fields of study they will
choose as a career, through a systematic process of schooling of the
highest standards, from kindergarten to high/secondary schools.
The educational objective is to create ‘academies’ that will become
‘feeder schools of choice’ (specialised schools) to prepare students for
entry into American, British, Australian and other universities of high
standing in Europe and Asia in which English is the medium of
instruction. The initial project should be the establishing of a
AR will be modeled after the most
innovative of educational philosophies whose vision is to create
thinkers, innovators, and life-long learners who will be successful at
all phases of learning and will contribute to the betterment of society
and to Malaysia in general.
Global Schools for global citizenship
AR will be based on a curriculum that is distinct from the governmental
school, focusing on English language as a lingua franca as the medium
of instruction so that the students will be prepared for entry into the
world’s top ranking colleges/universities whose language if instruction
is English. A high level of proficiency in this language is therefore
necessary as skills mastery.
Faculty members will consist of
those from diverse local and international background skilled in the art
and science of teaching and committed to the principles of highest
academic excellence and global education, and student emotional and
AR will be the premier college preparation
schools which will admission priority to the best and the brightest of
children of the poor of all races in Sarawak especially, and in Sabah
next.. The aim is to provide the best quality education to children who
come from families who are in the worst economic condition and to give
them the all the opportunity they will need to be successful enough to
give back to their families and community.
A criteria is also to
give priority admission to those whose parents have never had a
college/university education and to orphans of all ethnic background.
The vision of AR Schools is to have a population that reflects the true
composition of multiethnic Malaysia who will further demonstrate that
they will still continue to succeed against all odds and be leaders with
a conscience clear enough to contribute to one of Malaysia’s two noble
goals of development: the alleviation of poverty regardless of race. The
top priority, of course, is the educational advancement of the children
AR Schools will not only be internationally-linked
as ‘university-college-lab-schools of global-experiential learning’ in
which the curriculum is based on cutting edge 21st century
informational-society driven paradigm of learning and teaching and
expected outcomes but also will be architecturally innovative; one that
will harmonise not only the elements of living much needed in the 21st.
century but also culturally-intellectually responsive.
words, AR Schools in East Malaysia will have a unique design that will
harmonise tradition and modernity. For example in the proposed Akademie
Renaissance - Sarawak campus, elements of design will be made to
uniquely respond to the environmental-sustaining nature of the coastal
state as well.
AR Schools will also be an educational facility
for community education and entrepreneurial activities linking local
production of cottage-industrial artifacts to the global market,
utilising advanced digital, cybernetic, and virtual communication
technologies for students to help the local community to participate in
the global business.
In the area of community education, it will
also house specialized galleries showcasing historical artifacts of from
local-historical materials collected and curated by students, with the
help of faculty.
AR Schools will essentially be a ‘research-driven college prep schools’
in which at every level of learning, students will be employing
primarily scientific thinking as a means to acquire and produce
knowledge and to further create artifacts useful both for the
advancement of theoretical knowledge as well as those practically useful
AR Schools will also be culturally-driven in which
the intellectual-cultural heritage and the philosophy of development
that harmonizes with Nature will be one of the core principles driving
this radical and progressive educational reform. Ideas of ‘ecosophy’, or
the imperative of balancing material and spiritual progress centering
on the preservation, and progressive hybridisation of cultures will be
emphasized in all aspects of the curriculum.
In essence, Akademie
Renaissance (AR) will be a 21st century school showcasing best
practices in global and local-cultural education and will have the
Sarawak state as the sites of its first set of campuses.
this suggestion will be the beginning of the new Sarawak Initiative in
education, one that can also be adopted by the state of Sabah and
consequently by those in West Malaysia in need of a serious
reconceptualisation. The state will progress well for generations, given
this idea of international collaboration that will benefit Malaysia in
general and the people of the state specifically.
We cannot leave
education to the hands of those only interested in political survival.
We must bring in educational futurists and globalists to chart the best
long-term and short term strategy for change, in a work both precarious
and promising, in which English is widely spoken.
Sarawakians! You have chosen the road not taken; one that will make all
the difference, as the American poet Robert Frost would say.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
AKADEMIE RENAISSANCE: SCHOOLS SARAWAKIANS DESERVE
AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books. He grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a Columbia University doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. Twitter @azlyrahman.
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