Jennifer Gomez

Moving away from vernacular schools and building a more socially inclusive society that promotes fairness for all are among the proposals that got the vote in a brainstorming session by a group of youths charting the country’s future into 2057.

Initiated by the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE), the 60 participants who turned up at the session in Sentul today also agreed to the proposal that English be given equal importance to Bahasa Malaysia in the education system and that by 2057, Malaysian students should be trilingual.

Participants, comprising members of the public, were divided into five groups – politics and democracy, unity, education, economics and women empowerment.

“We believe in a structure that allows freedom for all mature and informed Malaysians to be involved in the political process,” said 16-year-old William, the youngest participant.

Representative of the education cluster, a teacher named David, spoke on the importance of students having better critical thinking skills, but added that teachers must first be equipped.

“Teachers need to have critical teaching skills, so that when students ask them  ‘Why is this so?’, they do not say ‘Because I said so’. Instead, the teacher must explain why.

“We agree that the ministry should be more selective in taking in teachers,” he said.

Kamal, who delivered his group’s unity proposal, said they envisioned a shift in society’s focus, back to unity and diversity.

He said this could be done by building a more socially inclusive Malaysia that celebrates unity and diversity in order to achieve fairness in investing Malaysia’s resources based on the needs, impact and future of the country.

“And also to try and move away from vernacular schools, towards 2057,” he added.

During his presentation, Kamal said his group had also discussed the idea of doing away with religious conversion in marriage, but added that this was not in the final proposal put forward by the group.

There were also proposals for a conducive eco-system for Malaysia’s human capital and the improvement of the country’s productivity and innovation sectors via education, supporting businesses and having proper policies and regulations.

The women’s group mooted a plan to maintain affirmative action for the fairer sex in 2057, and called for greater support in terms of flexible working hours, working from home, paternity leave and facilitating a breast milk delivery system.

ONE committee member Azeem Abu Bakar said the proposals adopted today would be further discussed and fine tuned into a charter for the NGO, and would be used in its advocacy  projects and activities, looking towards 2057.

“We are very happy with all that happened today, as we are also here to define what ONE is.

“We’ve been together for some time, and we appreciate this feedback from the public so that we know what we want to fight for.”

He said they hoped to publish the final charter and that the public would support the charter by being signatories.

Another committee member, Danni Rais, said the next brainstorming session would likely be on the Federal Constitution.

ONE currently has 180 members.

Originally published on The Malaysian Insider on Saturday February 20, 2016 MYT 4:46:00 PM