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Thread: Education TITAS: Titillating TITAS, by Tengku Abidn

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    Education TITAS: Titillating TITAS, by Tengku Abidn

    Fundamental issue:
    The non-Malays don't trust UMNO when it comes to education. For decades, UMNO has used education as a psychological warfare tool. Hence, any programme that is imposed by force and at the end of a person's student life (varsity) will definitely meet with resistance.

    It doesn't matter what UMNO says or do, the people don't trust them.


    Titillating TITAS



    JULY 19, 2013
    Tunku 'Abidin Muhriz is founding president of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

    JULY 19 — Regular readers will be familiar with my lament at the woeful state of education of history in our country, in particular, the need for the inculcation of a shared (but contestable) national history, the importance of that history in framing a common understanding of citizenship, and putting this narrative in a wider geopolitical context.


    It’s not just me: students who I meet at innumerable forums tell me that their history textbooks (and the inane methods of learning) are more likely to induce catatonia than an appreciation of our past; retired soldiers who I meet at war memorials and regimental dinners forlornly remark that important battles of a generation ago are completely forgotten; and retired bureaucrats, senior judges and politicians of the “old school” I have the pleasure to know are resigned to the fact that their heroes — King Ghaz, Tun Suffian, Dr Mohamed Said — will never be household names again.



    As for those names which every Malaysian does know, it can be argued that they are simply put on pedestals without sufficient appreciation of their life stories. Ironically, there are many excellent biographies, autobiographies and collections of the writings of our early patriots (the books of Tunku Abdul Rahman could constitute a whole course!), but they don’t seem to be used as teaching materials.


    It is only in particular places that a strong institutional memory survives: our fiercely proud historic schools, or families and clans organised enough to hold events to connect young members with their old.


    I’ve observed the traditions of a Cantonese kongsi and witnessed a reunion of Jaffna Tamils apart from joining hundreds of my own blood relatives, and a curiosity about ancestors triggers the viewing of the same periods of history through different but equally fascinating viewpoints.


    So when I read that Islamic Civilisation and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) is to be made compulsory at private universities, I had mixed feelings. Of course, it is important for people everywhere to have an understanding of these profoundly important civilisations, but it is not as simple as that.


    First, we have to consider the course content. I spoke to some students and had a look at some of the materials: lots of dates and names and some introductions into the theories of major thinkers — but there could be more.


    There were no case studies drawn from the enormous time period and geographical space available that would engender critical thinking — there could easily be an introduction to the story of Muslim philosophy from Ibn Sina to Al-Ghazali to Ibn Rushd, for example.


    On a happier note though, I saw nothing that promoted a political party or any assertion that one civilisation was superior to another.


    Of course, this is a vast subject area and major omissions are inevitable, which begs the question as to why this is all being crammed into a single course. A more holistic approach would be to spread the material throughout and earlier in the student experience.


    Indeed, asking university students who are intent on specialising in particular fields to do an additional, unrelated course may be academically detrimental to their core subject. Except they would not be asked, they would be forced — which leads to the point on academic autonomy. Regardless of the merits of the course, it should surely be up to universities and their students to determine the make-up of their degrees.


    Finally there are the cost and logistical implications of universities having to allocate hitherto unbudgeted time, space and teachers for this imposition.


    This point about autonomy came up quite frequently at the inaugural meeting last week of the University of Malaya Research Advisory Council, of which, I agreed to be a member alongside academics, sector specialists from government agencies and corporate figures.


    The council is a commendable initiative of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who explained that the Vice Chancellor is very keen for UM to (once again) become one of the world’s top 100 universities.


    Strengthening research capacity is central to this, and so the discussion centred upon how to link the university’s research to the demands of industry.


    The theory is that this will make UM’s research more relevant and responsive to the nation’s economic interests.


    Sitting next to Professor Terence Gomez, I interjected, saying that while I had nothing against applied research, the university should prioritise pure research and seek academic freedom for itself and its competitor universities, without which all talk of strengthening research capacity is hollow.


    That might attract some of our best historians and social scientists, currently based in the UK, Europe, the USA and Singapore to return and set off a beautiful chain reaction in the rest of our academic environment.


    * This is the personal opinion of the columnist.
    - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/op....ExqjOHK2.dpuf
    py

  2. #2
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    Rafizi on Titas 'smacks of crude political opportunism'



    COMMENT Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli’s support of the proposal by the Higher Education Ministry to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (Titas) course compulsory in private tertiary institutions (IPTS) is a disappointment.

    More disappointing is the reasoning behind his support for the introduction of the subject.

    Rafizi's (left) argument that “politically, it’s not helping when it’s made too much of a fuss, because it fits the Malay right-wing argument that the Chinese and non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything Islam” smacks of crude political opportunism.

    Members of the public who see him as a potential future leader expect him to take on and not surrender to Malay right-wing opinions that are based on irrational and mischievous thinking.

    Rafizi should know that the religious and socio-cultural conflict in the country is not because the non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything that is Islamic.

    The great majority of Malaysians respect the faith of their neighbours even if they may not understand it. What they resent and oppose is the state-sponsored assertion of dominance and superiority of a religion that is different or not their own.

    I am sure Malay Muslims will similarly resent and resist any action to marginalise their religion and culture in any country in the world. In this particular case, we are witnessing the use of the public sphere to force feed the young with perspectives that are biased to one religion and narrowly selective.

    During the past two decades there has been a concerted attempt by Umno leaders using the bureaucracy to reconfigure Malaysian and world history as well as civilisational studies taught in schools to fit in with their “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy, “ketuanan Islam” and “ketuanan Umno” mindset.

    An awakened public

    Surely Rafizi is fully aware of these efforts – including those linked with theNational Civics Bureau (BTN) scandal - which are derived from unjust and unacceptable notions of Bumiputera and Muslim privilege, superiority and dominance.

    Surely he does not believe the lame justification put out by Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (below) in Parliament that the introduction of the required course is simply to streamline the requirement of public and private institutions of higher education.

    If he did so, he must have been born yesterday.

    That Umno has been able to succeed in the past with the introduction of one policy after another to mould the educational system to conform to its political agenda speaks volumes about the so-called neutrality and professionalism of the Education Ministry, the craven non-Umno leaders in the government as well as about the degree of ignorance and apathy amongst Malaysian parents.

    The Malay and non-Muslim public have now awoken. During the past two years we have seen various NGOs, including the multi-racial and multi-religious grouping of 'Kempen Sejarah Malaysia Sebenar' (KemSMS) raise their voices for the overhaul of the current history syllabus and text books.

    They have also requested for delay in the planned implementation of History as a compulsory subject at the secondary level.

    It is not clear to what extent their proposals and recommendations have been accepted and incorporated into the report of the special committee studying the history text books and history syllabus for secondary schools curricula.
    The important thing is that they have done their homework and spoken up.

    Overall Umno game plan

    A similar outcry and close scrutiny of Titas is needed.


    Under the guise of instilling “national patriotism” and “nationalism”, it is likely that Titas is part of the overall game plan of Umno in cahoots with our education officialdom to ensure that the party’s version of politically-correct history, religious and civilisational studies is imprinted into the minds of our young generation.

    If Titas goes through as a compulsory requirement, non-Malays and non-Muslims will not be the only losers. Young Malays and the Muslims themselves, too, will lose out as they imbibe and internalise a propagandistic and truncated version of the world’s religions and civilizations which will highlight the self -proclaimed superiority of Islam and the shortcomings of all other religious and civilizational systems.

    This can only diminish and impoverish rather than nourish their minds, values and behaviour.

    This is why Rafizi needs to reconsider his stand – if not for the sake of the non-Malays, at least for the sake of the Malays.

    This is why other stakeholders need to speak out and demand to know the truth behind the proposed course and put its contents, the recommended text books, and other requirements under the microscope of public scrutiny.

    DR LIM TECK GHEE is director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.
    py

  3. #3
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    Actually, the issue is: Can you trust UMNO? They are famous for creeping salamization, slicing off a bit at a time so you will not notice.


    Don't be anti-Malay, Rafizi tells think-tank chief





    Rafizi Ramli has claimed that Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) director Lim Teck Ghee appears to only endorse issues that go against Umno, the Malay culture and Islamic studies.

    He was responding to Lim's criticism that Rafizi's support for the teaching of Islamic and Asian civilisation (Titas) in private universities as a disappointment.

    "It is not wise for Lim to (only) support issues brought by Pakatan Rakyat which are seen to be against Malay sentiment.

    "When we mention NEP and go against Umno, he supports. But on matters pertaining to the Malay culture or Islamic studies, Lim would object," he added.

    Lim, on the other hand, had said the PKR strategy director and Pandan MP should not be seen as bowing to right-wing Malay rights groups.
    Tread carefully on Titas
    Meanwhile, Rafizi also cautioned Pakatan leaders to tread carefully on the Titas issue in order not to be seen as anti-Islam.

    He said Pakatan should have an open stand on this matter and not speak as if portraying the interest of a particular race.

    The first term lawmaker also said that students would be interested in studying the subject if it was not considered as part of their cumulative grade point average.

    "We cannot reject the subject politically as it would create the perception that non-Muslims totally reject Islam," he told Malaysiakini.

    In a related development, PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the subject was not new, as it was being taught in public institutions of higher learning and did not require a compulsory pass.

    "There is no intention of having the subject taught to Islamise non-Muslims as what is claimed. For PAS, it is not a problem of having non-Muslims learn the subject.

    “What is taught includes Asian civilisation that includes the Indians and Chinese. Knowing this would help bridge the gap between the various religions," he said.

    Furthermore, Tuan Man said the government's move not to make it a compulsory pass subject showed its tolerance.
    py

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