Maszlee’s folly over shoes, socks, upsets Chinese school chief

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 – While ordinary citizens and even former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak have mocked Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s recent comments on black shoes and black socks, a representative for some Chinese independent schools in Kuching says they do not plan to comply with any such new ruling.

Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division Chinese Associations president Dato’ Richard Wee said the policy is not being considered as there are other more pressing matters to pursue, The Borneo Post reported.

“There is no intention for our Chinese independent schools to consider the matter of black or white shoes for students. We have other more important and pressing issues to deal with.

“The ministry should focus on addressing major issues such as the recognition of Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), computer classes for primary schools and the reintroduction of the concept of ‘Vision Schools’,” he was quoted as saying by the Sarawak-based daily.

Wee, who is also chairman of the Board of Management for Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools No 1, 3 and 4, added that although the UEC is recognised by various universities across the globe, it is still awaiting full recognition by the Malaysian government.

“The education ministry is definitely not focused on what needed to be done first,” he told The Borneo post.

Maszlee’s flip-flop on black shoes for students

Last Saturday, the education ministry released a statement saying that the requirement for students in government and government-aided schools to wear black shoes would be fully enforced by 2021 and not 2019 as announced earlier.

This was a major reversal from Maszlee’s announcement on July 19 that students will have to wear black shoes to school from next year.

He reportedly said this during a question and answer session on education organised by the Karangkraf Media Group. According to Maszlee, this was one of the many requests he had received from parents since being appointed education minister in May.

This was compounded further with his latest comments yesterday on the colour of students’ socks at primary and secondary schools.

Ministry looking at the colour of socks for students

Bernama reported Maszlee as saying that the colour of school students’ socks will be decided after discussions with stakeholders are completed.

“The ministry will issue an official statement on the issue after reaching an agreement with the relevant parties,” he added.

Many of his critics, including the ousted Najib, are mocking him over his “farsightedness” in addressing these issues.

school shoes socks

The colour of money?

The obvious question one might be tempted to ask now is what else does Maszlee wish to look into as a matter of importance under his ministry, and at what cost to the government, let alone to the people.

How about the colour of text books, or a new policy for teachers to streamline the colour of their clothes when in school, or how about the colour of classrooms.

Who knows, by making all these more vibrant, students may be inspired to do greater things and conform to whatever they are taught.

Maszlee’s image takes a nosedive

So many Malaysians had much hope when Maszlee was appointed education minister.

However, his insistence on holding a second post as president of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and not making any major policy decisions, nor having any plans to transform the education system after years of political interference has seen his image take a nosedive.

Taking the post of IIUM president goes against the principle of no political appointments to public universities which even he had promised, let alone was one of the promises given by Pakatan Harapan prior to the 14th general election.

The bottomline is that as an education minister, Maszlee must come up with a national education blueprint within six months in the job. He has been in the post for the past six months.

Even if he started a little later after taking up the role, there should already be some information on his view of the existing education ecosystem and what he plans to do about it.

Where are new education policies and reform

That is what Malaysians really want, a clear plan on how to fix the national education system, from the syllabus to the schools, the teachers, the facilities and finally, students.

The students are already there to attend school and learn. There is no need to be concerned over what they wear.

Also, it is not Maszlee’s job to have any ambition of making just one university the “Oxford of Muslim countries”.

– NMT