Humanizing education

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set up a blueprint focusing on the sustainability namely Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which depicts 17 main goals. These goals are intended to be achieved by 2030 and it is coherent that more bodies are moving towards attainment of the goals globally. These goals are also being applied by most of the policymakers including university. Adopting policies conforming to these goals are to ensure that their educational system is relevant. Most university highlighted the importance in achieving the fourth goal, Quality Education which portrayed the importance of giving access of education to everyone. 

On the other hand, this goal is not avant-garde as Islam already highlighted the importance of the SDGs through their general principles in their way of life which is the Maqasid Shariah. In addition to abide by the principles from Quran and Sunnah, Muslims are also liable to act in line with the objectives of Shariah (Maqasid Shariah). The objectives of Shariah mainly are derived to promote collective benefits (maslahah) and to evade harm (mudharat). One of the objectives in Shariah, preserving the intellectual (hifz al-‘aql) stressed the importance of one to maintain the sanity of mind and any form of act that can diminish one sanity are prohibited and vice versa. This highlights the importance of education in Islam as a medium to level up one’s sanity of mind.

         During the reign of Islam, everyone is given equal rights for education. In fact, it is encouraged for everyone to seek for knowledge as a form of worship (ibadah). In Islam, there are certain code of conducts (adab) that should be abided to ensure that everything is blessed by Allah. Most of the teachers stressed significantly on these code of conducts before moving into curricular education. There are cases where the students need to comprehend the code of conducts for 8 years before seeking the knowledge from their teachers. This explains the importance of one’s virtue to precede their knowledge. As a result, one will treasure their knowledge with added values despite merely embedding the information like a robot. This situation is the process of humanizing the education.

  One may view education only throughout the curricular from primary school until university and the most mistake done by student is to believe that excellence can be seen on a piece of paper. If education is viewed as so, there are several consequences that may come into the picture. Taking an example of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) which responsible for decision making of their main stakeholder namely IIUM students. IIUM has been taking measure to enhance the appreciation of seeking knowledge in IIUM students by providing relaxing module such as Usrah Budi. The module initially was implemented as a platform for the students to learn additional values apart from curriculum. Although it has been made compulsory for the students, the module is not graded like curriculum. This allows for the student to attend sessions merely as one of the requirements for their completion of study despite attaining the real goal intended by the policymakers.

Students generally view the importance of education is to ensure themselves to get job opportunities and to attain the highest pay they can achieve. This is not entirely wrong but if one is driven by avaricious goals as their sole objectives, one may indulge themselves in corruptions. If a student treasure their knowledge and does not view their knowledge as only a bulk of information, they have the tendency to practice everything they learn in life. As an example, an accounting student who follows the standard curriculum may only achieved basic skills in their own fields such as reporting and auditing. However, if the student is exposed to humane education, the student comprehends the additional values in the field which is promoting integrity and avoiding corruption. This will result in students’ ability to apply and reflect on their knowledge despite absorbing information as much as possible.

One question should be addressed which is who are the one who is responsible for humanizing education? We discussed earlier about the module implemented by the university and it is evident that the university are one of them who is responsible for humanizing education specifically in term of revising policies to be in harmony with the other goals. Apart from the policymakers, the teachers are also playing significant roles in the process of humanizing education. It can be seen also in university that most lecturers are not stressing their students solely for knowledge attainment but also additional values and skills. This includes the assessment suggested by the lecturers such as presentation in class which indirectly educates students to learn additional skills namely presentation skills. This skill can boost the students’ confidence and professional apart from assessing one’s comprehension of their knowledge.

In university, student leaders also can play their part in humanizing the education. This can be done if students understand the benefits of having extra skills and values in addition to the curriculum. Therefore, student leaders can organise programs which encourage the students to have hands on experience and values apart from enhancing one’s critical thinking. It can be seen that most student leaders organise programs to ensure that the students learn values hence giving benefits to the society despite preserving for their own benefits. Therefore, the students also should grab this chance by joining programs organised by the student leaders as a form of learning new skills. In addition, students who are active in joining programs are prone to adapt well in their workplace as the experience during their participation in the university can be seen as simulations before entering industry. These values are undeniably the aftermath of humanizing the education.

It is believed that humanizing education results in one treasuring their knowledge with additional values. In the Islamic Golden Age, it can be seen that the concept of preserving the intellect is supreme such that the emergence of Islamic empire is mainly driven by the numerous Islamic scholars which practices Islamic codes of conducts. The European also managed to rise from the Dark Ages of Europe after imitating the application of Islamic scholars in knowledge seeking especially in philosophy. Last but not least, it is also coherent that the collapse of the Islam is originated from the fade in application of Islamic code of conducts by the Islamic scholars. Therefore, it is necessary for one to promote humane education as there is no artificial intelligence that can promote humanity aside from human itself. 

By: Mohamad Zahid Muslim & Ameerah Tasleem

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