A HISTORICAL milestone was made last night when the inaugural International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Public Debate Series (PDS) was launched at The Garden of Knowledge and Virtue.
The collaborative effort between IIUM and the Youth and Sports Ministry firmly translated the aspiration that new Malaysia is more open to diversity of opinions and expressions, especially on things that matter.
The 6D formula encompassing disagreement, dissent, dialogue, discourse, debate and decorum is the rule of thumb in making this aspiration a reality.
The youth and sports minister, in welcoming the initiative, reiterated that it is aimed at developing a culture of critical thinking, public speaking and raising the quality of debates as well as the use of English.
All these resonate well with the Education Ministry in an attempt to shift education to take a more publicly engaged role as the nation’s “think-tank” where the younger generation are accorded the all-important responsibility of interlocutor for the future.
Not only must they know how to communicate with conviction and confidence, without fear or favour, they must also know what to convey given the myriad of issues overcrowding the nation’s mind, indeed the world today.
More so in the distant future. In order to accommodate this, the series will be conducted monthly involving a combination of senior and junior speakers coming from members of the community; dealing with the most pressing issues.
The event last night set the tenor of what to expect in the coming series. With no less than “bro” minister himself leading the team on one side, and the freshly minted Asian Best Overall Debater, Syarif Fakhri of IIUM on the other, the audience were given a treat of what the new breed of Malaysians are capable of.
If there are so much negative reports in the media about the younger generation, it is because we choose to focus more on those because “bad” news sells, as the media struggle to keep their heads above the water.
So the actual story is never completely told. The inaugural IIUM PDS, however, gave a somewhat rare insight into the minds of our youths.
To the surprise of many, the situation is not at all hopeless. It also means that the 6Ds should be given its rightful place in nurturing new ways in the new Malaysia.
And universities are just the place for it provided they are prepared to change in tandem with the demands of the time. That said it is time to reconsider what is called “education” today.
Over the last month, I have participated in a couple of seminars that were associated with the term “Education 4.0,” instead of “Education 2030”.
Answering why is hard to tell especially when the latter comes out of the 2015 World Education Forum held in Incheon, South Korea on the back of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which expired the year before.
It is intended as the way forward post-2015 well into 2030, hence the name. That it is framed on ESD shows that there is every need for the 6Ds to be embraced because ESD is inherently futuristic in nature laced by uncertainties and subjected to a plethora of interpretations.
It is bound to open up many doors in order to match the expectation of the future that we want.
This is quite the opposite from the narrative of “Education 4.0”, which seems to be mechanistic in its form.
As such, it is rather monolithic in its presentation within a very linear structure, like many of the processes that makes up a machine.
In other words, there is little flexibility to speak of in the context of the 6Ds. More often than not, there is an inclination to some “standardised” one-size-fits-all herd-like thinking as the more dominant approach. Consequently, the so-called “education” is not only becoming more redundant, it also tends to be dehumanising.
The people, especially youths, become more and more disengaged as they get hooked on new habits brought forth by mechanistic gadgets that push them towards the “standardised” ways of life.
Few realise that technology has the capacity to standardise and “take over” the individual involved insidiously.
The ultimate manifestation of this will be the various forms of addiction that is now associated with assembly-line, factory-like learning where the 6D rule has no place at all.
In short, while public debates, discourses and dialogues are crucial for education, in the real sense of the world, the deeper understanding of what education is all about, with all its intended meanings and philosophy, must also be given due consideration.
Education 2030 Framework for Action adopted in 2015 that provides the roadmap to achieve the 10 targets of the education goal cannot be sidelined by another illusive “target” like that of Education 4.0.
More so when it is ill-defined against that of Education 2030 as it stands today.
With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: email@example.com