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Students excel if schools are a happy place
Published on: Sunday, March 12, 2023
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A friendly atmosphere motivates children to go to school. Essentially, children are happy to be in a stress-free learning environment. - Pic by Study International
When my children started schooling in the United Kingdom, they were no longer shy and reserved children, they are now articulate and versatile, and endeavour to get outside their comfort zone. 

How could this education system positively impact our children in a short period?

First, their education system has a clear target. What do they want these children to be in the next 10 or 20 years, and how do they want these children to shape the future of their country?

They have clear learning outcomes concerning hard and soft skills at every level, ensuring access to education for all children, regardless of their passions and abilities. Students are taught through various approaches, such as debate, discussion and dialogue, to nurture them to be persuasive speakers, critical listeners, analytical thinkers and engaged citizens who can contribute to society.

Another point to highlight is the assessment and rewards system. Tests and examinations are not used to see who does best in the class, but for teachers to identify the gaps in the knowledge of every child to improve. 

Teaching strategy is personalised. The system nurtures not only good students but ensures the weaker ones grasp at least the average learning outcomes. Rewards are given daily, weekly or monthly, and yearly to those who progress academically and in attitude. 

It emphasises that every improvement matters and motivates students to work harder and behave better.

Secondly, teachers are specialised in their subject and have a clear pathway for life-long learning in their field. They are not burdened with non-academic work, which allows high-quality teaching. 

Parents’ involvement has a huge role in the school, especially involving children’s activities. Naturally, children show more confidence and greater self-esteem by having parents around, and eventually, better results.

Moreover, parents and the local community volunteer their time, such as providing extracurricular classes, organising non-academic activities and fundraising for the school. This add-ons help to run the school smoothly. 

Schools have an incredibly diverse population, exposing children to various cultural and social groups. Hence, children learn other cultures, religions and ethics in a friendly atmosphere.

Third, the infrastructure. Some may not be cutting-edge, but they are ever-ready, well-functioning, well-maintained, energy efficient, and fit for 21st-century education. Finally, schools are a place to create happy memories and friendships. It provides inclusive surroundings and accepts all abilities. 

One simple and powerful example is when teachers greet children at the entrance.

Either saying the child’s name, making eye contact, smiling or using a friendly non-verbal greeting such as a handshake, high five or thumbs-up is enough to cheer every child’s day. A friendly atmosphere motivates children to go to school. Essentially, children are happy to be in a stress-free learning environment. 

For Malaysia to achieve this, put away competition elements among schools, parents and children. Move towards educational equity for all children. 

A happy school environment nurtures a person who is useful to society. We have to adopt a transformational mindset across generations. Are we ready?

Nurshuhada Zainon

Senior Lecturer, Universiti Malaya


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