A concerned Malaysian writes about current affairs in Malaysia. If you like this site, please tell your relatives and friends. WE have the POWER TO CHANGE MALAYSIA. If you want to read earlier posts, please remove the "2" from this URL

Monday, March 12, 2007

National Service – Back to the Drawing Board?

This scheme to improve racial interaction and promote harmony among the youth has been riddled with many problems such as:

• Poor and unhygienic food in some camps

• Deaths of trainees

• Equipment in unusable condition

• Transport glitches

• Fights, rapes and other unacceptable behaviour of trainees and trainers

No one accepts perfection in a program that was hastily implemented but after a few years experience and a dozen intakes one expects that the NS program would have worked through all the problems.

My opinion is that the NS program is trying to undo problems that should have been tackled earlier; probably at the time when students enter secondary schools.

We should make it compulsory for every student to participate in one ECA that is a uniformed group like the Scouts/Guides, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Cadets or Military Band and this ECA should not take up more than 2 hours each week.

The uniformed groups can organise interschool activities perhaps once every quarter and an annual camp during school holidays can be organised in each state lasting three or four days.

After four or five years activity in such a program we will see a more disciplined youth of 17 or 18 years ready for a one-month NS program that will require ALL youths to attend.

The budget for these programs should be with the Education Ministry and the Family Ministry.

It was reported that the Chairman of the NS Board mentioned that 45% of the NS program consists of military drills and this seems such a waste of time, effort and money.

How does marching two or three times a day in the hot sun improve racial interaction?

The other weakness in the strategy of the NS is that only 10 to 15% of the population is trained each year. This means that the majority of the population is not learning how to interact better with other communities.

Perhaps this provides a convenient loophole for some people not to get their children involved and this is a major flaw.

After my son was not drafted for NS my wife and I decided to send him for the 28-day Outward Bound School in Lumut as we wanted him to become more independent.

If we cut the NS program to 30 days, we can effectively increase the intake threefold.

Uniforms can also be reused if in good condition and we can allow trainees to take home one set of uniform as a souvenir.

Deaths of trainees is also a cause of concern. As most of the trainees are school leavers it indicates that some students have not been taking part in physical education activities at school.

As my children have all left school and as they studied in Singapore anyway I do not know what type of PE Malaysians do in school.

There is a private school in Melodies Garden and I have observed teachers watching in the shade while some students go through the motions of a PE lesson.

Do Malaysian schools conduct proper PE lessons for all students or is it just a case of “take the next 40 minutes and kick the ball if you are interested”?

I know that in Singapore schools every student is graded on their fitness level, the final stage of which is the 5km run two or three times a year and you are graded according to how long you take to complete.

If you are graded poor on account of obesity, they conduct more training for you and you must attend the special sessions.

If we had proper PE classes in schools, the student’s records should have indicated any health problems and this should have sounded warning bells when reporting for NS.

It appears that the health problem like the racial harmony problem should have been tackled earlier via the school system.

I suggest that the NS scheme should be shortened to 30 days and programs to improve racial harmony should start in secondary schools.

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.filatelic.com/FOLDER/D040522a.jpg

No comments: