Each group certainly has their own justifications for their views. Notwithstanding, there is also another group that has chosen to be neutral in their stance, neither supporting nor rejecting the move.
Whatever the reactions, I am of the view there is another very important segment of the society that we should keep an eye on with regards to their response to this announcement – whether they choose to reject, accept, or remain neutral.
In my opinion, the group that should pay close attention to this latest development are the students in tertiary education institutions that are currently pursuing courses in Education (or just recently graduated). Why? Because the responsibility to shape the education system especially at the primary school level lies on their shoulders.
I believe that in the next 10-20 years, they will be the main driving force for the success of our education system, particularly at the primary school level. This is an essential stage for the development of one’s character and behaviour before entering the secondary / university levels.
Before we go any further, we need to ask these aspiring future educators (mahasiswa), what are the ambitions that they have for the primary school students? Or in other words, what is the idealism that they wish to impart on the young students?
Having a sound and clear ambition is important to shape the attitudes and stances of these mahasiswa in dealing with any development or changes of the education system. Otherwise, they would be left out from the crucial part of the process and would merely become observers and implementers.
On the contrary, an ambiguous and vague ambition would prevent them from seeing the real problems taking place within the current system and culture.
They would be more likely to remain with the status quo. Even if they see the existence of the problem, they would not be inclined to improve the situation or even worse, they would be devoid of ideas on how to elevate the schools to reach the idealism that they initially hoped for.
Thus, the mahasiswa need to be aware of the enormous task coming their way. When there are decisions made that would unquestionably change our education system such as the abolition of UPSR, they would need to instil a reformist way of thinking in order to carry out the necessary reconstruction work.
This reconstruction work is required to ensure that our future education system (in 10 – 20 years’ time) would be able to solve the problems that are currently happening today.
Furthermore, mahasiswa should be the pioneers in coming up with critical and in-depth discourse on how to interact and react to this scrapping of UPSR. The empty space surrounding this issue should be immediately filled with contemporary ideas and conversations and not left to be spoken by the public alone.
Mahasiswa that are directly involved with this matter through their courseworks, lectures, and reading materials on education should be at the forefront of this type of discourse. The discourse also should not be limited to the framework of the current system but should be treated as an open platform that is receptive to various fresh ideas and concepts.
Hence, mahasiswa should always re-examine all the problems that have been happening. Deep dive into the respective pedagogies and philosophies. Build strong networks with fellow Education students from all over the world – from Nusantara and Asia to Middle East and Europe; to enable productive knowledge transfer and sharing of ideas.
Such initiatives are key in improving one’s critical thinking ability; strengthening attitudes and stances; enhancing moral and social awareness; and expansion of one’s worldview and mindset.
Do not get caught up in the stigma that ‘young people’ are not ready to talk about education. Remember, mahasiswa are a generation of innovators, and not of duplicators.
Therefore, it is important that the value of reform is infused into the mahasiswa to guide them when they eventually occupy primary positions in reconstructing our education system.
Come the year 2030, we would be assured the country’s education landscape would have been developed by the hands and minds of these mahasiswa.
It would only take a little courage and audacity, along with a bit of patience, to triumph over banality and doubtfulness.
Mahasiswa should realize that their ultimate role is more than just a teacher, but a teacher that carries out the functions of an intellectual.
Mohd Hafiz Abdul Hamid
Ketua IKRAM Muda
Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia