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The Educational Reformation (Tajdid) in Malaysia



community and the nation. In accordance with this value, I specifically researched on the spiritual intelligence (SI) perspective which is considered as an ultimate intelligence (Zohar

& Marshal, 2000) and how SI is able to guide Malaysian adolescents in achieving success and human excellence. This research effort could be clearly seen from Figure 2.8:

Figure 2.8: The research paradigm

The vision of the national education in achieving excellent school – glorious generation could be achieved through quality education with a holistic approach to create a well-balanced individual with high morality and ethics. The journey of Malaysian education towards achieving the vision seems to be vague as there is a huge gap in one of the important elements of holistic education that is the spiritual element. Majority of the schools and educational institution in Malaysia are emphasising more on intellectual element and partially emotional element. The spiritual element is being separated and narrowed down to religious and moral study. Whereas the reality of education in Islam as being emphasised by Hasan Langgulung (1986), Naquib Al Attas (1999) and Sidek Baba (2011) is that there should not be any separation between the spiritual element and the rest of the elements in holistic education.

Excellent school – glorious generation

Quality education Holistic approach

Spiritual intelligence:

ultimate intelligence Human



The spiritual element should be the core element in guiding the other elements. This study is initiated to research on spiritual intelligence which is the ultimate intelligence by developing a model of SI to achieve success and human excellence as per the educational vision of Malaysia. Adolescents were chosen as the target group since the stage of adolescence is very crucial and it is a critical stage of transformation from childhood to adulthood.

Before discussing the gap in detail and the target group of this research, which is adolescents, it is very important to look into the chronology of our education system in bringing the educational transformation to Malaysia. In the realisation process of the Vision 2020 and the country's efforts to encounter the challenges of the 21st century, the Government has introduced four important pillars (Pelan Strategik Interim Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 2011-2020, 2012): (1) 1Malaysia, (2) Government Transformation Program, (3) The 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) and (4) The New Economic Model (NEM).

These four (4) pillars are underlying the transformation of Malaysian education. It is undeniable that many efforts have been taken by the Malaysian government through the Ministry of Education (MOE) towards transforming Malaysian education system with the two most recent efforts being the Interim Strategic Plan - MOE (Pelan Strategik Interim Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 2011-2020, 2012) and the Malaysia Educational Blueprint (Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025, 2013).

Earlier in 2006, Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan (PIPP), with the aim to produce a first class human capital, the Ministry of Education (MOE) through the PIPP has ensured education agenda outlined in the Development of Education 2001-2010 continued


through two approaches, namely equality of educational opportunity and excellence in education. PIPP is implemented through six (6) strategic thrusts (Pelan Strategik Interim Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 2011-2020, 2012), namely:

1. Developing the Country through 1Malaysia [as a race]

2. Developing Human Capital 3. Empowering Schools 4. Bridging the Education Gap 5. Elevating the Teaching Profession

6. Accelerating Excellence in Educational Institutions

Nearly 300 plans were carried out and according to MOE, all the six strategic thrusts achieved more than 80% success (Pelan Strategik Interim Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 2011-2020, 2012) but in terms of the second strategic thrust, it is questionable as to how it was achieved and the element of spiritual (in holistic approach) is not clear .

Following the PIPP, the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) was established (2013 – 2025). There are five outcomes the MEB aspires for the Malaysian education system as a whole: access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency (Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025, 2013):

1. Access

Every child in Malaysia deserves equal access to an education that will enable that child to achieve his or her potential. The Ministry thus aspires to ensure universal access and full enrolment of all children from preschool through the upper secondary school level (Form 5) by 2020.


2. Quality:

All children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education that is uniquely Malaysian and comparable to the best international systems. The aspiration is for Malaysia to be in the top three countries in terms of performance in international assessments, as measured by outcomes in TIMSS and PISA, within 15 years. (TIMSS and PISA currently test for literacy, Mathematics, and Science only. Additional assessments that address other dimensions of quality relevant to the Malaysian context may be included as they are developed and become accepted international standards).

3. Equity

Top-performing school systems deliver the best possible education for every child, regardless of geography, gender, or socio- economic background. The Ministry aspires to halve the current urban-rural, socio-economic, and gender achievement gaps by 2020.

4. Unity

As students spend over a quarter of their time in school from the ages of 7 to 17, schools are in a key position to foster unity. Through interacting with individuals from a range of socio- economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds—and learning to understand, accept and embrace differences—a shared set of experiences and aspirations for Malaysia’s future can be built. The Ministry aspires to create a system where students have opportunities to build these shared experiences and aspirations that form the foundation for unity.

5. Efficiency

The Malaysian education system has always been well-funded, yet improvements in student outcomes have not always matched the resources channelled into the system. While


the Government will maintain current levels of investment, the aspiration is to further maximise student outcomes within the current budget levels.

In relation to this research, the second aspiration is the only aspiration that needs to be considered. Hence, the quality of the education is reflecting on physical achievement and shows no concern for spirituality. But narrowing down specifically into the student aspiration, it did mention the six key attributes needed by every student, which are:

knowledge, thinking skills, leadership skills, bilingual proficiency, ethics and spirituality, and national identity.

As stated in the MEB, in terms of ethics and spirituality:

The education system will inculcate strong ethics and spirituality in every child to prepare them to rise to the challenges they will inevitably face in adult life, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to employ sound judgment and principles during critical moments, and to have the courage to do what is right. The education system also seeks to nurture caring individuals who gainfully contribute to the betterment of the community and the nation.

To achieve this aspiration, the related shift to transform the education system is to develop value-driven Malaysians, and one of the ways is through enhancing Islamic and Moral education with greater focus on core values and underlying philosophies of major religions by the year 2017. The shift clearly separates the whole education system from the core values of ethics and spirituality and only concentrating to the particular subject matters (Islamic and Moral studies); whereas the real transformation in the education system should be holistic and viewed as a whole and in all aspects it should be related to spirituality.


In order to achieve the educational transformation in Malaysia, there is a need for tajdid (reformation). Tajdid in education should begin with understanding the basis of education. Education is not just a matter of education through ta’lim (teaching a knowledge to someone) or tarbiyyah (not just educating human being but inclusive of animals and plants; the concept is very wide) but it should be through ta’dib; beyond a matter of educational transformation which is to educate individuals to reach a near perfect life in every aspect (Sidek Baba, 2011).

In his book, ‘Beberapa Pemikiran Tentang Pendidikan Islam’ (1995), Hasan Langgulung outlined three main functions of education from the Islamic perspective which I believe should strongly be implemented in the Malaysian educational system: first, spiritual function (related to aqidah and iman), second, psychological function which is related to individuals’ behaviours and moral values to reach a near perfect level and the third function, social function, related to relationship with other human beings in creating a harmonious and balanced society. In this research all these three functions were achieved through the developed spiritual intelligence model.

During the British colonisation, the Malaysian education system was divided into two educational systems; religious and non-religious education (Azmi Zakaria, 2000). This dualism instigated the secularisation of education in Malaysia which till today is the main cause of failure in our educational system; the system failed to build a perfect individual (insan kamil) which is portrayed by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Obviously to reach a perfect condition as the Prophet is impossible, but the education system should be able to develop an individual with near to perfect characteristics following the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH) and take al-Qur’an as the source of guidance in life.


The seven elements of spiritual intelligence developed in this research could be as a guidance in transforming the Malaysian education system and bring a great tajdid in creating a near to perfect individual who is not only developed in the sense of high-tech but in ‘high-touch’ as well. According to Sidek Baba (2011), the human capital is not just limited to the scope of economics, but the real values gained through expertise and high value of compassion to develop individuals who are balanced between technology and human touch (spiritual, psychology and social concern).

The real transformation and reformation of education was being clearly recommended in the first World Conference on Islamic Education held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1977 (Hasan Langgulung, 1986):

Education should aim at balanced growth of the total personality of man through the training of man’s spirit, rational self, feelings and bodily senses. The training imparted to a Muslim such as faith is infused into the whole of his personality and creates in him an emotional attachment to Islam and enables him to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and be governed by Islamic system and values willingly and joyfully so that he may proceed to the realisation of his status as Khalifatullah to whom Allah has promised the authority of the universe;….Education should promote in man the creative impulse to rule himself and the universe as a true servant of Allah not by opposing and coming into conflict with nature but by understanding its laws and harnessing its forces for the growth of a personality that is in harmony with it (p. 153).

The implementation of the above mentioned philosophy should be well assimilated with the NPE in bringing the tajdid (reformation) and transformation to the Malaysian educational system. This assimilation could be achieved through the built spiritual intelligence model in this research which is discussed in detail in chapter 5.