Friday, July 12, 2013

More Boredom and Doldrum In Learning History

Islamic Civilization to be a must in private varsities (Malaysiakini, 11 July)

An opposition MP today questioned the Education Ministry’s move to make Islamic Civilisation (Tamadun Islam) studies compulsory for local students even in private universities.

The ministry has stated that the subject would be made compulsory in all private institutions beginning Sept 1 in an effort to “standardise” requirements with public universities.

“We strongly urge the Education Ministry to reverse the ruling and let the individual universities decide on the needs of their courses,” DAP’s Kampar MP Ko Chung Sen said during a press conference today.
Ko questioned the need for the ministry to make this subject compulsory for non-Muslims but at the same time restrict it to only local students.

“How will this help those who are studying to become lawyers, doctors and engineers?” he asked.

He said that Muslims would have known about Islamic civilisation beforehand through their teachings, whilst non-Muslims do not need to learn of Islamic civilisation in universities.

He said that according to the federal constitution, any individual should not be forced to learn any religion that is not his or her own.


I used to like History. It was a favorite subject in school. I found it quite fascinating because the syllabus, be it whether you study in lower-secondary and upper secondary covers history from the Malaysian history to world history. At least it scratches the surface of each part of the world.

When coming to Form 4, the inclusion of the Islamic civilization section (forms one bulk of the SPM syllabus) has eventually driven many classmates, whom I have observed into boredom. It rears an ugly head in learning history. Instead of making it quite exciting and more balanced, the bias focus on one civilization has got many losing interest and subsequently, it is one of the essay questions that many students would skirt around / avoid when doing homework or sitting for mock / actual exams.

The names and terms in the Islamic civilization is enough to drive a non-Muslim (especially student) into nuts and subsequently boredom in learning. This has resulted of many teenagers losing steam and interest towards the subject towards the end of their secondary education. It's not the alif-ba-ta  thing that makes them lose. It's the historical period - dull and sometimes monotheistic in nature.

Fortunately, when I was in tertiary education, the local subjects - a requirement before you can complete your degree in a local university was mainly on moral studies (Form 6 equivalent) and the other one called the equivalent of Form 6's Pengajian Am. I nearly didn't graduate because of that Pengajian Am paper: I took Moral studies during my freshman year while skipping Pengajian Am because of the subject set on Saturdays at that time - it didn't interested me to come for Saturday classes. In the end, I only took it on the second half of my third year (out of the total 4 years). 

I recalled that 2002 was the last time that in foundation year, a student is allowed to skip the first semester (of three) if the SPM results are quite good and satisfactory to warrant a bypass. By December 2003, it wasn't allowed anymore and at that time, when we're near to the end of the third year of class, we went through a crash course of finishing that missing period - all in the space of one month itself out of the full four months.

I don't even know who's idea was to add one more to the existing but sufficient two local study subjects but you can be sure that it is from the academic point of view will result in more boredom and frustration at the expense of standardization as what the Education Ministry claim to be. The one problem right now is that Malaysians don't even realize until the very last minute or when something hit them so hard that they will only do so.

Ibrahim Ali replied today and gave the same high mighty tone akin to "who are you to question it." Let's just let that frog croak whatever he wants - since it represents his political face (you'll see a different face if you happen to sit with him for dinner or a cup of tea in private). There are many people who closed their eyes and say kind of crap, unless they talk to their non-Muslim friends about being in their shoes and see from their point of view to gain their enlightenment.

One thing I noted was that Dr. Ko never referred that matter to Agong and etc..whereas Ibrahim's comment mentions the Agong. It might be that he may have either been misled by his loyal-to-the-end newspaper Utusan. It ain't about race and religion here, but on the long run it will not make students love history that well - it makes things worse because you are being made to stare at one focal civilization compared to having a fair amount of share time on studying other civilizations - the proper way to go through that syllabus.

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