By Joe Chelliah
The National Education Philosophy of Malaysia (NEP) is indeed a wonderful philosophy that our early education planners conceptualized. Unlike the Greek philosophers who only spoke of the education of the body, mind and soul the NEP is founded on four basic principles - JERI (Jasmani, Emosi, Rohani & Intelek) and is meant to give clear directions for a more wholesome and holistic approach to education. The national philosophy of education states that,
"Education in Malaysia is an ongoing effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God.”
Needless to say, everything that happens in the school curriculum should adhere strictly to these NEP guidelines. The Education Act of 1996 too spells this out very clearly with minute details. The four areas referred to are the mind ( jasmani), emotion (emosi), spirituality (rohani) and intellect (intelek). But in music education these principles has been neglected in this matter at the actual level of execution i.e. in the schools although a sound music education program in the schools can also relate to all these four aspects of the education process easily.
However most parents and even some music teachers themselves appear to be unbelievers in this matter. The positive effects of a sound music education program on children are usually seen only over time. Unlike some other subjects in which students can be easily tested to prove their progress within a very short time frame music, like the other arts and morality subjects, this takes a longer time to show results.
As a result, subjects like music education are treated lightly or just plainly ignored in the school curriculum and relegated to an unimportant position in the school. The main “culprits” are school administrators themselves who have assumed power of such misdoings. Time for music study is instead given to other subjects like Math to secure better academic performance for the school. Perhaps they need to be reminded that if they exclude music study in schools it would be a direct contravention of the Education Act of 1996 which clearly spells out the aims and direction for education in Malaysia very clearly. This act which became law in 1998 also stipulates penalties under section 11 ( see below) for those who flout the stipulations of the act. Not many know that if anyone were to make a police report against such a person, he/she can be charged in court.
(1) A teacher shall teach in accordance with an approved syallabus and an approved time-table and any teacher who teaches pupils or any other person who permits a teacher to teach otherwise than in accordance with the approved syallabus or the approved time-table shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both.
(2) A head teacher, principal or teacher who contravenes regulation 6,7,8,9 or 10 shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction, beliable to a fine not exceeding five hundred ringgit.