Education and character building

Lucy Sebli

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.


I have been teaching at the university for more than 16 years now. Thousands of students went in and out of my rather small, humble and cramped office throughout the years in my capacity as a teacher, academic advisor, programme coordinator, academic supervisor, confidant and many more.

A lot has changed since then, technologically and pedagogically speaking.

The Education Ministry and its related agencies also need to catch up with the rest of the world as far as teaching pedagogies are concerned.

Academicians are now encouraged to go for teaching training, attend workshops to keep abreast with the latest development in teaching and learning.

They are also learning to be creative in their assessment to accommodate new learners who have a different learning style.

The university also provides platforms for students to participate in political activities and encourage students to be involved in volunteerism and provide an avenue to allow them to express themselves.

Consequently, the old curriculum, which deems irrelevant was replaced by new and creative ones to equip our students with the necessary skills required by the industries as well as to produce qualified graduates, morally and ethically.

Academicians are also encouraged to engage students outside of the classroom by involving in the activities held by students as well as making phone calls or sending email tracking students who failed to attend classes regularly.

Unfortunately, despite these efforts, students’ attitudes and characters are moving towards a different direction. Intellectually speaking, our education has managed to produce more geniuses — however, the opposite happens as far as the quality of students’ character and personality are concerned.

Just last week, during the class presentation, students were asked to turn off their phone. Instead of turning off their phone and leaving it on the table as requested, some students, thinking that I was not looking, turned their phone back on and started texting their friends and browsing Facebook while their friends were presenting.

They also tend to leave the classroom while the class is still in session to smoke or buy food or come to the class to scan their QR attendance and leave the classroom immediately after. QR attendance is a new mechanism devised by the university to curb the high rates of absentees among university students.

How does QR system work? Students need to install an app on their phone, which will enable them to link their mobile device with class attendance.

All they do is to open the app and use it to scan their presence in the class. To do that, they are required to come to the class. However, some students are very creative. They will ask their friends to scan their attendance on their behalf without having to go to the classroom.

Another incident occurred last week in which 11 final year students were trapped in the elevator. After the class ended, students raced out of a lecture hall, and instead of using stairs, they decided to cramp themselves into an elevator, which is unsafe to carry more than six persons at a time.

The notice of warning was strategically placed at the entrance as well as in the inside of the elevator. Several minutes later, the elevator malfunctioned.

Consequently, two students have panic attacks and fainted and were rushed to the hospital before they were released an hour later.

News of the incident went viral in social media in which the public blamed the university. Ironically, none of them came forward to correct the public misguided perception of the event.

The role of education is to improve our lives and push us to be better because it enables us to use our experiences and knowledge to gain respect and have a better life in the future. The goal of real education is about addressing the mental aspect of a person making him or her a holistic individual.

The personality and character of a person are what set an individual apart from others.

However, education alone cannot guarantee well-rounded and respected individual. It takes a whole nation to raise its people if it wishes to produce a well-mannered, respectful and a decent human being.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.