Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam is the reminder we all need.
Her movement, #MakeSchoolASaferPlace, is the call to arms that the youth of Malaysia deserve so much more security, protection and support than they’re currently getting, and the proposition that if they are not going to be provided for, they sure as heck should stand up and demand that change.
There has, in recent years, been such a decline in thinking — for oneself, for each other, for basic humanity and across the board.
Thanks to the digital era we live in, we all have a front row seat to what our youth face in classrooms – both from teachers and fellow students. Issues like bullying and mental health have not received the ongoing platform and support needed to be continuously monitored and managed.
Campaigns die out before real change is made. And most still turn a blind eye to how common sense and logic have been replaced with selfishness, arrogance, fear mongering and (not always) subtle threats to just ‘biar je lah’.
The way major issues like rampant racism and gender inequality, to the point of outright emotional abuse and assault, are not only swept under the carpet and dismissed, but ridiculed, downplayed and accepted as the norm by the very people who should be using their positions of power to fight this stagnancy and regression, has obviously reached boiling point.
It has fallen on the youth of Malaysia to call to attention the draconian systems that have dominated mindsets for generations. To call teachers and all levels of educational institutions the gatekeepers of future generations is not an understatement.
A country’s future is only as good as its next generation. And its next generation is only as good as the education and leadership it receives.
But when these educators fall short of providing the necessary safe space and growth mindset that ensures that next generation’s inevitable progression, they must be called out.
Let’s call it what it is: a systemic ‘dumbing down’ of the next generation. If intellectual and logical thought were allowed to naturally thrive, it would, and should, undoubtedly threaten those in current positions of power and leadership, those who control and shape people’s thinking to their egoistic, dangerously divisive advantage.
Ain has said out loud what others have only dared thought. It’s not right. No more.
No more systemic sexism. No more systemic racism. No more ridiculous period checks. No more third world mentality in a first world ready country.
We should no longer fall back on that regressive thinking that sees history’s biggest mistakes repeating itself.
We should no longer continue to pass down backward mentality from one generation to another.
When we know better, we do better. And we sure as heck know much better than is currently being done.
Anything else is just lazy, and not befitting of the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers.
One would hope the calling out for reform would come from the governing body put in place to supposedly monitor the education system’s inner workings.
But when that very governing body appears to work in the same backward mode as the system they are supposed to be keeping in check, it would seem the entire infrastructure is in need of an overhaul.
Instead, here we are, at the unpleasant, yet unsurprising juncture, where a teenager finds herself in the incredible position of demanding reform and change for herself, and her peers.
Don’t let her stand alone. Speak up with her.
Eventually, your voices will be the screaming chorus of change that propels Malaysia into the absolutely necessary future it needs.
The future is very literally, yours.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.