DidikTV: It will be better

NEW endeavours do not come without its set of challenges – this is a given.

But if the project involves a channel dedicated to the broadcasting of educational content in the country, necessary steps must be taken to ensure it is delivered well.

In the days leading up to its launch on Feb 17, DidikTV Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (KPM) received much hype. Unfortunately, its first broadcast received just as much criticism and flak, too, from the public.

An 88-second video clip of teacher Rafidah Rahmat’s science lesson on the reproductive system went viral not only for her weak command of the English language, but for factual inaccuracies as well.

Where she should have said a pregnant woman carries a foetus in her womb, she instead called it an infant.

She was lambasted online, causing a stir among netizens who felt that the video lesson exposed the country’s “faulty” education system, a long debated topic.

The video meant for Year Two pupils in the Dual Language Programme (DLP) also drew criticism on Rafidah’s speaking style. Social media users chided her for her childish speaking manner and for swaying her body while delivering her lesson.

A reader, Monash University Malaysia, Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre executive director Dr Mahaletchumy Arujunan, did not mince her words when she wrote to The Star pointing out a “glaring” non-factual point Rafidah shared in the video – that a man and woman must be married to be able to have a child.

“While I see this as being morally correct, it is scientifically flawed. This type of pseudoscience should have no place in our curriculum.

“Our cultural and religious values should be part of the teachers’ teaching plan where they can be imparted during the appropriate lesson.

“In order to inculcate interest and passion towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), let us look at the content and presentation style and not merely the medium of instruction. I am very surprised that the language caught everyone’s attention and not the delivery of the subject, ” her ‘Letter to the Editor’ read.

DidikTV received more blows in the following days as another teacher was criticised for wearing a T-shirt during a lesson while an anchor was ridiculed for her mispronunciation of Mandarin characters during a lesson on SPM 2020 Chinese Paper 2.

Instead of saying Chinese Paper 2, the anchor mispronounced it as Chinese ‘bacteria’ 2, leading to social media users calling on the ministry to remove the anchor.

There were, however, netizens and education experts who sympathised with the teachers, pointing out that the accountability should fall on the Education Ministry instead.

While this is the first time a channel is being dedicated to the broadcasting of education programmes, it isn’t the first of its kind in the country.

In 1972, then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein launched Education Television (ETV), popularly known as TV Pendidikan, which ran for over 30 years. The ministry should have learnt from that experience when it came to the training and preparation of the DidikTV teachers.

It was harsh and unjust to crucify the teachers, many felt.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the teachers were asked to volunteer to run the programmes, write their own script, and make their own slides – on top of what was already expected of them on a daily basis.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said people should not pick on every little thing. He cited the example of the teacher who conducted the lesson in a T-shirt.

“What a television anchor, in this case a teacher, wears is important, but there is nothing wrong with T-shirts.

“A clear directive for outfits is needed to ensure that the teachers are not unfairly criticised, ” he added.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim has stepped up to assure Malaysians that quality control for DidikTV will be tightened and its content improved as the programmes cater to some five million school students.

The ministry, she said, would help train the teachers in presentation and content.

“There is a lesson to be learnt here from all parties, including the ministry, in ensuring the quality of the content that we produce for television, ” she said in a recent interview.

Indeed, the first and most important step to improving is acknowledging the problem. – By SANDHYA MENON