Pengenalan: Mendidik bakal pengundi = Educating voters-to-be

“Apakah yang dapat dilakukan di sekolah untuk membangunkan pengundi yang bertanggungjawab?”

= “How can schools contribute to the development of responsible voters?”

Berikutan kelulusan pindaan Perlembagaan Persekutuan untuk menurunkan had umur mengundi, pada bulan ini Dialog Pendidikan meneliti peranan sekolah dalam membangunkan pengundi yang bertanggungjawab. Untuk memulakan perbincangan ini, dua pelajar sekolah menengah, tiga orang aktivis, seorang ADUN, dan seorang timbalan menteri mengongsikan pendapat mereka tentang soalan ini: Apakah satu perkara yang dapat dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah untuk menyediakan muda-mudi Malaysia untuk mengundi secara bertanggungjawab? 

Now that the constitutional amendment to lower the voting age has been passed, this month at Dialog Pendidikan we are looking at the role of schools in developing responsible voters. To start the discussion, we asked a few people – secondary school students, activists, a state assembly representative, and a deputy minister  – to answer this question: What is one thing that schools can do to prepare young Malaysians to vote responsibly?


Mica Williamson Pengenalan_Mica_cropped

Pelajar Tingkatan 4 dari Ulu Tiram, Johor, yang berharap agar masa depan Malaysia dipenuhi dengan kejayaan.

Pada pendapat saya, satu perkara yang boleh dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah untuk menyediakan muda-mudi Malaysia kita untuk mengundi secara bertanggungjawab ialah pendedahan politik dalam kalangan pelajar sejak dari bangku sekolah lagi.

Seperti yang diketahui, topik politik ini merupakan topik yang sentiasa dielakkan oleh guru-guru dan ibu bapa. Hal ini demikan kerana mereka berpendapat bahawa topik politik ini tidak sesuai untuk pelajar sekolah yang tidak matang dan masih muda lagi. Oleh yang demikan, pelajar-pelajar hanya mendapat pendedahan tersebut melalui media sosial yang bukan selalu tepat. Justeru, saya berharap agar topik politik ini dapat dipupuk oleh pihak sekolah agar pelajar dapat bersedia untuk mengundi secara adil dan bertanggungjawab.


Ong Kian MingPengenalan_Kian Ming_cropped

Ong Kian Ming is Deputy Minister of International Trade & Industry and MP for Bangi, and he holds a PhD in political science from Duke University.

Like their counterparts in other countries, young Malaysians have access to political news through social media. Often, what they see (not read) are merely the headlines. Hence, the most useful tool which schools can provide to young Malaysians is to ‘train’ them to read and assess news items analytically and independently.

This actually applies to all citizens, but young Malaysians have a better opportunity to be ‘trained’ to be more critical and analytical in their thinking processes. This is because young Malaysians are less set in their ways and school is the best opportunity to help them train their mental faculties.

Topics such as how to verify if a news item is fake news or not, understanding the biases and motivations of various news portals, evaluating the public policy positions taken by various political parties and politicians are just some examples of the preparation which young Malaysians can and should go through before they cast their vote when they turn 18. Of course, the biggest challenge with providing such ‘training’ is to do so in a way which is unbiased and neutral. This is where good teachers, a well-thought-out syllabus and well-prepared assignments come in! (Easier said than done though…)


Abdul Aziz BariPengenalan_AzizBari_cropped

YB Prof Dr. Abdul Aziz Bin Bari ialah Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Perak bagi kawasan Tebing Tinggi dan Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri selaku Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pendidikan, Teknologi, Sains dan Alam Sekitar.

Untuk menyediakan satu generasi yang sedar dan bertanggungjawab sebagai warga memerlukan masa yang lama dan proses yang berterusan. Dan ia lebih penting dan mencabar daripada mendapatkan laluan untuk meminda Perlembagaan Persekutuan bagi mengizinkan perubahan penting menurunkan umur mengundi dari 21 kepada 18 tahun baru-baru ini di parlimen.

Sebahagian daripada langkah-langkah yang perlu untuk menyediakan generasi yang tahu menghargai hak itu perlu dimasukkan ke dalam kurikulum yang sedia ada. Ini termasuk memberi maklumat tentang pentingnya rakyat mengundi bagi mempastikan negara diperintah oleh mereka yang layak dan bertanggungjawab.

Murid-murid juga perlu dibiasakan untuk mengurus dan mentadbir kegiatan mereka. Guru-guru tidak harus memerintah dan mengawal mereka. Sebaliknya guru harus menjadi pemudahcara untuk murid.

Lebih penting lagi, guru-guru harus menjadi contoh dan model atau idola ikutan murid-murid. Selain itu, murid-murid yang memiliki kaliber dan karisma sebagai pemimpin harus dibimbing dan diketengahkan.

Sebenarnya, ruang dan kerangka yang diperlukan telah ada. Apa yang penting ialah mereka yang mentadbir dan melaksanakan sistem itu perlu sedar bahawa negara telah berubah dan mereka harus memberi ruang dan laluan supaya perubahan itu benar-benar terlaksana.


Alethea WongPengenalan_Althea_cropped

Alethea, a Perdana Fellow to the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, is deeply passionate about nation building and understanding the intersection between behavioural science and public policy. 

In dealing with young voters, many individuals place education and having general knowledge as extremely crucial prerequisites before one can vote. When it comes to allowing 18- to 20-years-old to be part of the democratic process, the system we have here in Malaysia today is arguably not up to standard, and it must undergo thorough scrutiny.

One thing that schools can do to prepare young Malaysians to vote responsibly is to inculcate democratic education and participation in our children. The syllabus may include political education and the basic science of governance, and even practices such as electing student representatives and signing petitions among the students. Furthermore, teachers should be given the autonomy to design learning experiences in schools while operating in parallel with the government’s vision of empowering youth. If done properly, then political engagement and involvement amongst youths will be the dawn of a new era in Malaysia.


Felicia Erica RintoPengenalan_Felicia_cropped

Pelajar tingkatan 4 dari Ulu Tiram, Johor, yang mengharapkan masa depan Malaysia dipenuhi dengan sumbangan kejayaan para anak muda Malaysia.

Pendapat saya mengatakan bahawa pihak sekolah wajib mengamalkan sistem politik seperti demokrasi dalam kalangan pelajar ketika hendak menentukan keputusan yang adil dan bijaksana. Hal ini boleh memberi persediaan awal kepada para belia Malaysia untuk mengundi secara sistematik. Walaupun perkara ini sering dijauhi daripada perbualan para guru dan ibu bapa, hal ini patut diterapkan dalam pembelajaran untuk melahirkan muda mudi Malaysia yang matang dari segi mental.

Saya berharap agar pembelajaran tentang politik ini dapat menyedarkan pihak sekolah bahawa perkara ini penting dalam pendidikan anak-anak.


Hwa Shi-HsiaPengenalan_Shi-Hsia_cropped

Hwa Shi-Hsia is a biologist studying tuberculosis and an active member of Global Bersih, advocating improvements to voting procedures for overseas Malaysians.

As schoolchildren, usually the only official voting procedure we participate in is the election of monitors or club officers, who are more like civil servants than legislators. I wonder if this contributes to the misconception that our elected representatives are there to facilitate what should be bureaucratic or public works issues (“MP longkang”). There is a lack of understanding that MPs/ADUNs are there to actually change the laws.

All schools should have a model parliament to provide training in real democracy. The school administration must be courageous enough to give the parliament room to vote on substantial issues that will affect the learning environment and quality of life. For example, schools sometimes have fundraisers for upgrading classroom furniture. This is an issue that could be left to the students to decide – is our furniture bad enough that we are willing to pay to replace it? Eventually they should be allowed to vote on school rules at an age-appropriate level. At least children can get the idea that laws are not set in stone and can be changed according to the needs of the community.


Faizul ZuraimiPengenalan_Faizul_cropped

A MEng Civil & Structural Engineering Graduate from the University of Manchester.

From the perspective of a Sarawakian, there are many schools in rural areas that are under-resourced and underperforming. Due to malapportionment, youth votes in these areas are worth about 70% more than those in urban areas, which means that school quality is a big issue. While it is easy to point fingers at the government to channel more funding to these dilapidated schools, teachers play a huge role in preparing their students to vote responsibly.

Teachers should be a catalyst of student leadership. They should facilitate processes whereby students would be encouraged to take up roles in student bodies, simulate an election process to choose their leaders and be responsible in ensuring a conducive environment in school. By taking these steps, they would have a better understanding of governance and vote more responsibly.

One such example is SK Ulu Lubai which was named as a top-performing primary school in Sarawak. Its headmaster, Jaul Bunyau, exemplified the fact that remote schools are never too distant from education opportunities, by empowering the students, parents and teachers. A third-class facility will never stop a first-class mentality because education is a human process.


Jadi, apakah yang dapat dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah dalam usaha membangunkan pengundi yang bertanggungjawab? Kongsi pendapat anda di bawah (nama, e-mel, dan website tidak wajib), mengikut polisi komen kami.

Minggu depan, kami akan memetik beberapa komen yang menarik ke dalam post baru. Sementara itu, komen daripada pembaca lain juga terdapat di Facebook page kami. Terima kasih!

So, how can schools contribute to the development of responsible Malaysian voters? Share your thoughts below, and please remember to follow our comments policy. (It is not compulsory to include your name, email, and website in order to comment.)

Next week, we will feature some of the most interesting comments in a new post. You can also read more comments from other readers on our Facebook page. Thank you!

 

Comments

  1. I went to a public school for an event. One of the teachers I spoke to asked her students to write responses to what they felt about the voting age being lowered to 18. A lot of the students actually didn’t agree with the voting age being lowered because they didn’t think people at that age are easily influenced and are not mature enough. It’s interesting and also sad in some ways because they seem to identify themselves as also easily influenced and not mature enough to vote. I wonder how they were raised and schooled to make them think the way they do. Only 2 students agreed but felt there are things that need to be done in order to prepare future voters.

  2. During TFM Week, Sumisha Naidu shared about journalism during a Sejarah class and how journalism captures what’s going on now and how that becomes history. Undi18 had just happened so everyone was a part of that historical moment, and she stressed it was important for students to know what was going on now in order to make informed decisions in voting in the future.

  3. I feel in the classroom there needs to be more lessons based on more real-world issues in tandem with critical thinking. They can then take a stance and may then be encouraged to be take a stance based on the issues they care about, and having that influence their political leanings based on who are the MPs and ADUNs who support those issues.

  4. I’m not totally pro-Undi18 because students don’t get a lot of exposure to making decisions responsibly. I personally wasn’t very politically exposed growing up, and I learned about politics through my parents only. My perception towards the government and opposition were from that as well. So if I was able to vote at 18, my vote would have been based on what my parents think.

  5. Right now a lot of people take things as is and don’t get second opinions. People don’t question sources or logic behind the things given to them as to whether these things are credible. How can that culture be created?

  6. Currently in public universities, MPP only takes care of student welfare and doesn’t represent student voice and governance. Student councils exist but they are only observers in Senate and have no say in the discussions there. UIA will be launching their student union in September. It will be very interesting and challenging few years as part of growing pains, and AUKU needs to be changed soon.

  7. This is a huge topic. It is important for schools to come up with a proper educational structure to develop responsible voters. However, before that happens, it is important to expose and teach our children about democracy, human rights and voting. While on a holiday in UK, my sister showed me this book titled ‘Politics for Beginners’ and it covers the following questions:

    What is politics?
    Who’s in charge?
    What is a government?

    There is a whole chapter on Elections and Voting on who can and cannot vote etc., besides other chapters. It is an informative book that provides the necessary information for beginners.

    Schools can provide children with basic knowledge/ foundation in democracy, human rights and voting – that’s where everything starts.

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