Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lulu Wonders What 1Malaysia Has To Say About This

Whose story is our history?

WHAT can and what can't be found in school history textbooks has been a source of concern for many years.

Besides omissions and insufficient emphasis on certain communities, experts and parents alike contend that some of the text and illustrations in history textbooks are placed there to subtly brainwash young minds.

Some of these elements contain politically-aligned and narrow views that can skew students' impressions of historical events and their impact on the country and its communities.

While school history textbooks now make a clear push for a national culture and society, are more comprehensive, and encourage students to be more analytical than in the past, when they were required to merely regurgitate facts and dates for examinations, certain elements in the texts must be reviewed.
In the Form Three textbook, for example, the contentious term "ketuanan Melayu", or "Malay supremacy", appears with a definition deemed inappropriate. Some quarters argue that the phrase should not have been included in the textbook in the first place.

In the same textbook, one illustration gives the impression that vernacular schools cannot promote national unity, and a paragraph on the same page states that vernacular schools will progressively be phased out.

Also in the Form Three text, specifically in the chapter on cooperation among the races towards independence, the quote used to illustrate the theme states that the country belongs to the Malays and should, therefore, be returned to them.

These are just some of the elements that have found their way into history textbooks under the secondary school integrated curriculum (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah).

Former Kelana Jaya member of parliament Loh Seng Kok thinks too much focus is given to Tamadun Islam, or Islamic Civilisation. "There was only one chapter in the old Form Four history textbook, but now five out of 10 are on this subject matter," said Loh, who carried out a study on history textbooks two years ago.

Loh, along with his MCA colleagues, submitted a memorandum to the Education Ministry pursuant to that study.

What has also been noted is the downplaying of the roles played by Chinese and Indian communities in the socio-economic development of the country.

Some quarters also take exception to the Chinese clans, the Ghee Hin and Hai San, which played so pivotal a role in the advent of colonial administration in the Malay states, being described as kongsi gelap or secret societies, abiding by the old British proscriptions on these organisations.

Specific historical figures such as Gurchan Singh, the "Lion of Malaya", and Sybil Karthigesu have all but vanished from the record. Both resisted the Japanese during the occupation of Malaya in World War 2 and paid the price for it. They used to get some mention, but have since disappeared from the pages of our history.

The key historical roles played by prominent figures from Sabah and Sarawak also merit little or no mention beyond "a line or two".

All Malaysian communities have their role in the story of how this nation came to be what it is today, and history texts need to reflect this shared ownership. Questions of ethnic relations in history must be discussed in scrupulously neutral language, without judgments of right or wrong.

A review would, indeed, be timely, but it must be collective, consultative and knowledge-based, not driven by emotion or political imperatives. -- CSL
are you worried?
I am

[hats off to nst for this article. hope no one gets into trouble]


Chipmunkrock said...

it was bad enough during our time, it's worse now. And to top it all off it's prob all so concentrated on local history that we all grow up oblivious to history of the rest of the world.

Hamba said...

Q = How are you? A = I'm in the well! Thank you. Isn't Malaysia education great? That's why all Cabinet Minister ( UMNO leaders) send their kid to international school. Gee, thanks UMNO ministers for leaving few places available in Malaysian school for the average rakyat sons and daughters to attend. Such a nice gestures, isn't it?

Antares said...


CK said...

agree with Antares. i pray for that everyday.

sigh~~~ some stupid head in Min. Edu is rewriting the text book.

denzook said...

on tamadun islam, i don see anything wrong with it. in fact, most development in europe in spain, france, britain and germany is associated with christianity like renaissance, reformation, imperialism, colonization, etc etc... if to choose, why not emphasis tamadun islam instead......

Anonymous said...

If you look into Malaysian history, there is nothing to tell as compare to our neighour like Thailand and Indo. When visit the Grand palace, the tourist guide was like a grandma telling all the funny things happen to the royalties. Also if go to Atyuthia, just see the old ruins and how they are build to match the sun set.

F5 Student said...

As a student sitting for SPM this year, I believe I'm not exaggerating when I say the SPM sejarah syllabus does not contain much useful information.

There are a total of 10 chapters in the Form 4 textbook.

Tamadun awal manusia
Peningkatan tamadun
Tamadun awal S.E.Asia

Tamadun Islam di Makkah
Kerajaan Islam di Madinah
Pembentukan Kerajaan Islam
Islam di S.E.Asia
Pengaruh Islam di Malaysia

Perkembangan Eropah
Dasar British dan Kesan terhadap Negara

As you can see, half of the book is about the islamic civilization, while the remaining half is unfairly divided with, in my opinion, more important topics such as world history.

In the non-islamic chapters, most topics and issues are just touched on briefly without going into detail. For example, Christopher Columbus, an important historical figure was only stated as the first European to arrive in America on page 224, (which I believe is also factually incorrect) without any further information given.

For comparison, the entire Renaissance period was describe in 6 pages, but the Madinah hijrah until the recapture of Makkah (which was about only 8 years) took up an entire chapter.

There are more examples but a few would be sufficient. Also, there are numerous errors and contradictions in the book.

And to prove that nobody's learning any real history from the textbooks:

I know the life of Muhd, reasons for hijrah, criteria for choosing a khalifah, the umaiyah government, theories on the propagation of Islam to Asia, function of Acheh as an islamic knowledge centre, islamic art in buildings etc BUT

I have no knowledge of historical events such as World War I, World War II (We only learned about the Japanese and Malaysian side). Also, issues such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Hitler, fascist Italy and mussolini, fall of the roman empire, formation of the republic of taiwan, vietnam war, the great depression, declaration of the state of Israel etc.

Luckily I have the privilege to search for any information I want on the net, but unfortunately, not everyone does.

In short, there is too much emphasis on islamic topics, which I believe, does not provide knowledge useful to most students. There should be more coverage on world issues and important historical events.