Blaming politicians and Malay educational bureaucrats for opposing the teaching and learning of music in the country’s public schools, a former law minister says music is in reality the “perfect antidote” to religious extremism.
In a blog entry today titled Has The Music Died? Zaid Ibrahim said musical programmes were abundant in schools in the 1960s and 1970s. He said that later in 1979, the Cabinet even directed that it become a mandatory subject for all students in primary schools.
He said following this directive, the Education Ministry’s Curriculum Development Centre implemented various initiatives but that this fizzled out soon after.
“I sense that music in our schools died because some influential people thought it had a bad influence on our children.
“These critics will tolerate nasyid music but not the other varieties. They have systematically thwarted the progress we made in earlier years,” he said, laying the blame also on headmasters and senior management of schools, who were not interested enough to pursue music as a subject.
“To a large extent, this lack of enthusiasm for music in our schools can be attributed to the belief amongst some Malay educational bureaucrats that music is not encouraged in Islam,” he said, citing the common belief that music could lead to idleness and was part of a “Jewish conspiracy to weaken Muslim minds.”
Countering these beliefs, Zaid argued that music was scientifically proven to develop skills for language and reasoning as well as spatial intelligence apart from helping to “shape abilities and character.”
He blamed the present crop of politicians, who also opposed the teaching and learning of music in schools, as the main reason why not enough was invested in it.
“Music is the perfect antidote for religious extremism. If you observe carefully, the group that does not want music in our schools shares the same thinking and values as the Taliban,” he said, claiming they were afraid that music was fun and liberated the minds of the nation’s young.
“These extremists would have a much harder time getting their recruits, including suicide bombers, if young Malaysians could develop more well-rounded personalities that loved music, and thus loved life.”
FMT Reporters Online