This article was originally posted on Twentytwo13.
Malaysia has wonderful precepts, the ‘Rukunegara’ and the National Education Philosophy (NEP) that should be upheld, at least by all national schools and public universities.
The underlying philosophy of the NEP is to nurture a complete person who is highly evolved in all aspects. It is too good to just remain as a notion, and not be put into practice by Malaysians.
Indonesia has its Pancasila with similar pillars. These great guiding principles can be highlighted in the public domain to create a greater awareness among the general population, including the public service, and incorporated into a compulsory course to be discussed and digested by students in schools and universities.
If the education system in Malaysia truly adopts the underlying principles of the NEP, we would be further moulded to become more ideal human beings, and the country will prosper in all areas.
However, there have been disruptive changes – politically, socially, and economically – in Malaysia over the past 10 years.
It is time that we revise the NEP to be more complete and relevant to the current contexts, taking into account the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, political turmoil, technological development, green and sustainable initiatives, and mental and planetary health. This is to ensure that the NEP will be in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A restrictive environment, and physical or social isolation, can lead to mental health issues. Covid-19 has shown us the fragility of the human mind in the face of this. People are more aware of the importance of the environment and the natural ecosystem for our physical and mental wellbeing.
This awakening has changed the way we run our lives.
Many feel stressed and depressed, when faced with unforeseen challenges and problems relating to our finances, health, family, and relationships. These are the side-effects of economic crisis, inflation, and natural disasters.
Our education does not prepare students for these challenges.
The formal education has always focused on fulfilling the materialism and the outer/physical aspects of human beings. We never look inside ourselves, to the mind, and the soul.
It is time to introduce programmes that can heal spirituality and strengthen the mind and soul.
It is important to realise that our daily pursuits are not only to prosper materialistically or to attain self-sufficiency, but to also become more spiritually evolved, cultivating and nurturing towards a more perfect being with goodwill, intellectual maturity, greater wisdom, heightened awareness, and mental and spiritual fortitude.
The key challenges are to establish peace within ourselves, among ourselves, and with Mother Nature. We need to adopt pure universal values and free ourselves from fictitious, man-made dogmas, ideologies, and prejudices that divide the population into conflicting factions with irreconcilable identities.
One must have sincere intentions and faith to realise one’s true potential, lead a corrupt-free life to establish a peaceful soul, healthy physical and spiritual wellbeing, and live a joyful existence.
We need to apply knowledge wisely with high responsibility for a good purpose, and sustainably harness and manage the wealthy resources of nature for the collective prosperity of man, country, and nature.
Professor Raymond Ooi is an Academy of Sciences Malaysia Fellow and Professor at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya. The views expressed are the author’s own and does not reflect the views of ASM and Twentytwo13.