Tun Dr. Mahathir: More Time Must Be Spent On Developing The Character Of Students

Malaysia’s former premier speaks his mind on Malaysia’s education landscape

PETALING JAYA, 25 February 2021 – As conversations surrounding the education landscape grow in volume – with schools reopening soon, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia spoke his mind on the state of Malaysia’s education landscape – at the most recent edition of world’s foremost international youth and education focused conference – School of Tomorrow: A World of Tomorrow: From Darkness to Light.

In conversation with Beaconhouse CEO Kasim Kasuri, the iconic leader touched on a variety of topics including landscape of learning in Malaysia, the nation’s handling of the pandemic and the role of values-based democracy in propelling the nation to success amongst other topics.

Tun Dr. Mahathir emphasised that educators and policy makers needed to relook their approach and objective of educating children. “In education, we concentrate on giving information, but we spend little time on developing the character of students. Yes, the information will help them in later life but if their characters are bad then they cannot benefit from the information. I think schools should have a proper system of imparting good character, good values to the students because only good values will give good result from the knowledge that you have acquired.”

Alister Bartholomew, Regional Director Beaconhouse Southeast Asia together with Tun Dr Mahathir
Alister Bartholomew, Regional Director Beaconhouse Southeast Asia together with Tun Dr Mahathir

Meanwhile, commenting on the highly debated topic of the core teaching language, Tun Dr. Mahathir said, “Every nation wishes to impose their identity, and language of course determines a nation’s identity. But while we want to promote our language, we also have a need to acquire current knowledge and the current knowledge comes to us not in our language, it comes to us in English. To keep up with the times, we have to learn that knowledge in the language in which it is presented.

The conversation occurred as part of the 3-day virtual conference featured a series of one-on-one conversations, panel discussions, presentations, workshops and parliamentary-style debates. The sessions were aimed at answering difficult questions for a world facing challenges of the COVID-19 impact on education, economies and a safer, balanced future in general.

This most recent edition of SOT also featured other prominent thought leaders and industry shapers including Mr Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan; Lord Jim Knight, Former UK Minister of State for Schools; Professor Dr Ger Graus OBE, Global Director of Education, KidZania and Dr Bo Stjerne Thomsen, Vice-President and Chair, Learning through Play, LEGO Foundation amongst others.

Other topics that were touched on over the course of the 24 live sessions were artificial intelligence, gender-based censorship, climate change and child mental wellness.

Alister Bartholomew, Regional Director Beaconhouse in conversation during SOT 12
Alister Bartholomew, Regional Director Beaconhouse in conversation during SOT 12

Speaking about the Conference, Alister Bartholomew, Regional Director Southeast Asia for Beaconhouse School, said School of Tomorrow has once again proven to be an incredible success and towards the school’s overall mission of building life-long learners., “We are honoured to have been able to host so many iconic and important speakers during this edition of School of Tomorrow. Their influential views and opinions have already reached out to millions across the globe and will have the power to shape the very future of education.”

“These educational and insightful thoughts and opinions shared at SOT will trickle down to Beaconhouse schools all over the world, such as the Malaysian Beaconhouse group of schools, in our journey to build a global community of lifelong learners,” he added. 

Now in its 12th edition, School of Tomorrow was first held in 2000 for the benefit of the global education industry, organised by Beaconhouse as part of its on-going commitment to its social responsibility. Over the years, the series has evolved and grown, featuring a total of close to 600 speakers including heads of nations and heads of states as well as educators, futurists, technologists & scientists, environmentalists, political & business leaders, performing & visual artists, writers & poets, journalists & filmmakers, social activists and others from around the world.

For further information on School of Tomorrow: A World of Tomorrow: Negotiating a Better Future please visit: https://www.sotevents.com/ To catch the full conversation with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rur7PYDR-Ug

Tun Dr Mahathir sharing his thoughts on education during SOT 12
Tun Dr Mahathir sharing his thoughts on education during SOT 12
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