Industrial Arts

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The PC WIKI is an interesting idea so to start off for the Malaysian IA section here are some observations. The lead-up paragraph pertains to me and can be edited out at any time. The peculiarities of Group XIII need to be discussed: the PVC's recruited from the Job Corps,etc.


After three years as a semi effective PCV, in late 1969 with the $500 go-home allowance in pocket and little else, I was in KL pondering rest-of-my-life possibilities with the the madam of the old Tivoli Bar on Batu Rd. Old Molly was sympathetic and steered me into a very well paying in-country job. Now, almost forty years later I am retired in Kota Bharu and although old Molly and the Tivoli are long gone I still see former students; great friends and great drinking buddies.

The PCV years were great, fun, and personally rewarding but the following years were much more effective in a way PC service could never be. The PC impact was dissipated and transient: On the average a PCV taught ~200 pupils per year and probably had a lasting effect two or three or four, if any. The time spent working and interacting with co-teachers had no long term effect. PCV's were an amusement, a pleasant curiosity, who would go away and be replaced by more acceptable local teachers who could teach in Malay.

The government's goal was universal secondary education for all; especially the economically disadvantaged rural Malays. PCV's were brought in to fill the staffing gap resulting from the aggressive expansion of Malay language secondary education and the building of hundreds of new secondary schools. Simultaneously the government teacher training system was cranked up turning out more teachers able to instruct in Malay. The Min. of Education needed PCV bodies to fill in until they could catch up and staff the expanded Malay language education system. PCV's eased this major transition and contributed to the phase out of English language instruction.

PCV's enthusiastically filled the gap, but as English medium IA teachers, we were superfluous to the government's vision of nation building: universal education in the national language. Realistically neither the PC directors nor the Malaysian government really expected the PC to leave footprints. Within five years all IA was taught in Malay in government schools.

An unfortunate consequence of this expansion was a general drop in the quality of education. The existing English medium schools were somewhat elitist,(there were only five in the state), the teachers quite professional, and the students were aware that they were top of the pile. The expansion lowered the common denominator and effected both the standard of teaching and the results.

Personally the post PCV in-country experience was more effective and rewarding simply because money was available to focus on individual potential and need: Twenty dollars per month kept a bright kid in school; a hundred paid for university accommodation; a few thousand put someone through a two or three year diploma course; fifty capped broken front teeth. We assisted many: twenty or thirty or forty, I do not know. The majority, not all, have seen a success that would have been impossible without our assistance.

To some the above might smell a bit like "white man's burden", that's fine, call it what you want, but the long term effect far surpassed anything accomplished as a $120/month PCV.

Perhaps, after a period of in-country orientation, today's PCV's should be given an assistance allowance and really have an effect.