Sunday, February 3, 2008

No More SN's Masterpieces in KOMSAS?

The video is about A. Samad Said's grievance regarding the absence of of SN's (Sasterawan Negara) masterpieces in the new syllabus of KOMSAS (Komponen Sastera). In this video, he also renounced his Sasterawan Negara title. He now claims to become 'Mantan Sasterawan Negara' and will not accept any invitation for a speech in events except by his own name without the title.

There is a rumor that the SNs and the Literature Prize Winners' writings will be replaced with excerpts from the pop-novels by Ahadiat Akashah, Zaid Akhtar, and Sharifah Abu Salem.

From Utusan Malaysia:

“SAYA [A. Samad Said] kini mantan Sasterawan Negara dan tidak mahu lagi menggunakan gelaran tersebut. Saya juga tidak akan menerima sebarang jemputan ceramah atau program berkaitan Komponen Sastera Dalam Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Melayu (Komsas).

“Mungkin saya lebih selesa bergerak atas nama individu dalam kegiatan-kegiatan sastera dan jika ada jemputan, lebih baik atas nama peribadi,’’ kata Sasterawan Negara, Datuk A. Samad Said.

Beliau menegaskan, tindakan tersebut merupakan aksi demi masa depan generasi sastera dan dunia kreatif di negara ini yang kelihatan semakin terpinggir.

Ia berkaitan dengan desas-desus terbaru bahawa karya-karya Sasterawan Negara dan penerima Anugerah Penulisan SEA (SEA Write Award) tidak akan tersenarai sebagai buku yang dicadangkan untuk teks baru Komsas bagi sekolah menengah yang disemak semula dan dijangka digunakan pada 2010.

Selain itu, semakan tersebut juga tidak menyenaraikan puisi, cerpen, novel dan drama dari pemenang Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia (HSPM), hadiah sastera peringkat negeri dan swasta.

Kementerian Pelajaran telah mengumumkan baru-baru ini untuk menukar teks sastera sekolah dengan novel-novel remaja popular seperti karya Ahadiat Akashah.

Antara alasan yang dikemukakan oleh Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum (PPK), Kementerian Pelajaran ialah sebahagian teks sedia ada terlalu berat dan tidak sesuai untuk pelajar di peringkat sekolah menengah.

Sebaliknya, karya-karya popular yang banyak beredar di pasaran tempatan hari ini dapat mengurangkan tekanan dan kebosanan yang dihadapi oleh pelajar.

Hingga kini antara pengarang karya popular yang disenaraikan ialah Ahadiat Akashah, Zaid Akhtar (Mohamad Yazid Abdul Majid) dan Sharifah Abu Salem."

If the news regarding the replacement of KOMSAS materials is true, then it will be a sad news for the intellectual development of the young Malaysians. This is so because the secondary school students will lose the opportunities to address and to analyze the economic, social and political issues raised by thinkers such as Pak Samad in their writings. I deem that the awareness of the younger generation regarding economic, social and political issues is important in order for them to be able to realistically reflect the issues of local communities and at the same time, to give them room for their creativities to prescribe the solutions from the questions raised by those thinkers.

If the difficulty of understanding the masterpieces written by those thinkers is the main reason for the abolition of their writings for the KOMSAS syllabus, then we should analyze why. These include identifying whether it is truly the pieces that are difficult that they contain some outlandish philosophical arguments or is it caused by other factors such as technical and pedagogical shortcomings.

I am convinced that the other factors, other than the unconventionality of the ideas presented in the writings, play more role in shying away the pupils from the literature. This is so because the way that the literature is taught is too dry and boring. The pedagogy is too focused on the 'schematic answers' provided by the teacher and that other interpretations are rendered awkward, if not unacceptable.

Furthermore, the syllabus is too focused on the technical aspect of the literature - the diction, the syntax, the plot etc. rather than appreciating the artistic, moral, and social values advanced by the writings. I still remember during my heydays in the secondary school. When it comes to Malay literature, the first thing I knew was I must memorize some verses from the proses that were speculated to be out in the exam so that I would be able to justify my answer that those articles indeed contain 'literary values' such as alliteration, assonance, etc. Little that I went more than by citing more five or six lessons (pengajaran cerita) as noted by Sasbadi reference book.

What about literary critique, authors' reflection of the literature, or at least... some open-ended argument sessions? Almost none... or none!

Why this rote learning? Why do we reduce the value of literature to its technical aspects that we lose grasp of the purpose of why the literature is written in the first place?

So, is replacing those masterpieces with the pop version of literature would make things better? Well, to catch the attention of the early teenagers with metropolitan love stories, of the heroism of mat rempits, and the higher-middle class ideals, maybe they will be more interested in those... But remember that the danger of the impending mental laggardness of the younger generation if those are the values that we expect to ingrain to our children and younger brothers and sisters. We will be the community of pop-cultures instead of high-cultures. We don't want our children to be able to recall every gossips regarding Britney Spears and naming the top fifties in the MTV while not knowing a single fact about the maladies of our society, do we?

Thus, please... don't remove these diamonds from their rightful place. Don't replace them with glasses... Yes, glasses are cheap many would easily buy. But those who really work hard to obtain the diamonds would be truly deserving of their worth and beauty.

1 comment:

PFernandez said...

Changes are coming for the Lit component for PMR and SPM English in 2010, probably using the same argument(s) they proferred for the changes in KOMSAS - too heavy, dull etc. I began teaching the Lit component in 2002 and it was an awful struggle to get the message(s) of each poem & short story across. Ours is a rural school where the kids barely understood English then. I relied on 'Anecdote' Teaching: drawing on my life experiences to make the Lit come alive for the kids. And it worked, in that I got their attention for the most part but come exam time, when excerpts of the actual texts were presented, the kids got lost in the maelstrom of difficult vocabulary and foreign imagery, and ultimately gave up. 7 years on, we now have kids with a pretty good grasp of English. More importantly, I have matured as a teacher. God has guided me to teach the kids to relate issues explored in the Lit component to issues and complexities faced by these kids in their own lives. I have also begun guiding them to link what they've learned to various social issues and concerns. All of a sudden, it's no longer some Italian/Australian/English person's issues. I have, to some extent, been able to help blur the lines between gender, race and creed, and this has helped most of the kids to identify with the characters they have learned about. They have learned to be inspired by them. They have learned empathy. If teachers feel that the old texts are a wrong choice (as I once did, myself), well, they're wrong! It's not the texts that must be blamed. It's us. PFernandez, Malaysia