Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Something Very Wrong with the Malaysian history syllabus

I remember of my days in Secondary Four, when new textbooks were adopted for history (sejarah) subject. My history lesson began with topics on ancient civilizations, studying about the majesty of Babylonians, Egyptians, ancient India and China. History has been made a compulsory subject to be taken at Malaysian Certificate of Education public exam, regardless of one's stream in secondary school.

We arrived at the chapter mentioning the beginning of Islam. I had barely dwell into the topic, my friend pointed out to me, something was amiss about the whole history syllabus for Secondary Four. There was a bias of content on Islamic civilizations.

I looked at the table of contents of my history textbook. There were at least five chapters devoted to Islam. I counted the number of pages, it turned out to be a huge chunk of the textbook. I estimated that half of the textbook was on Islam.

One quarter of the history syllabus devoted to Islam is no joke. This is not an Islamic subject taught in a religious school, but a subject studied by students from all races, faiths and creed, required to pass the public exam, taught in the mainstream schools!

It seems that the government has a set agenda in the history syllabus, I must suspect. I know my Muslim friends have a breeze during the Islamic chapters due to overlap of contents in their Islamic Studies subject, but people like me had to digest hard to pass my history in SPM! Don't you think this is unfair?!

Besides the overemphasis of Islam in Secondary Four, I wondered why we need to repeat Malaysian contemporary history in Secondary Five. Haven't we studied in in Secondary Three? Shouldn't we use our time and energy to know history, as we are supposed to know it? Thanks to our shallow syllabus, I am not surprised that most new generation Malaysians have no idea on major historical events of the world.

In our syllabus, the author made the Chinese and Indians appear as if they migrated to the Malay world during British rule, working as laborers in various sector. But, I had no idea that the earliest Chinese settled on the land, dating back to the Sultanate of Malacca.

The racial riot on 13 of May 1969 seem to start without a proper cause. In actual fact, these are sequences of events from the general election held in that year. Who knows the full story?

Will we ever get a clear picture of Malaysian history?

Do you know what is in the current form 4 history text books!??

When one picks up a history book, one would expect to read a fair account of events as they actually happened in the past. Definitely, one would expect the most accurate record possible of history as it unfolded through the decades, written as objectively as possible.

A most reasonable expectation indeed when the book in question is a major textbook prescribed by our Education Ministry for our students nationwide. A book that is instrumental in shaping the young minds of our future generation.

The issue takes even greater prominence when the content of that book is going to decide whether our students pass or fail in a major exam on which their future hinges.

Read more here.

Half the country disappears in M’sian history syllabus

When trying to ensure that the populace is sympathetic to a particular point of view, starting inculcation young is a useful tactic. In various ways, Umno is using school history textbooks to push its view of Malayan and Malaysian history. There has been a gradual process of ethnic cleansing in Malaysian history books over the last 25 years.

A anonymous textbook entitled Sejarah Menengah Malaysia, (Tingkatan Tiga), published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) in under the Ministry of Education in 1971 had much space devoted to the British role in Malayan history, and included a chapter on the Chinese in the peninsula until 1874.

By 1998, a textbook entitled Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menegah Sejarah Tingkatan 1, also published by DBP and compiled by Dato’ Dr Abdul Shukor bin Abdullah and his 17 Malay collaborators, depicts a peninsula whose history begins with the Melaka Sultanate, when it appears that the population of Malaya was entirely Malay, and continues on into the Johor period of Malayan history. The cultural aspects are entirely Malay and it is as if half the country has disappeared.

Full story here.

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