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MOVING ON: Long live Form Six and may the radio prosper further
GOING by news reports last week, Form Six education has, just like the radio, refused to go the way of the telegram, in the process, providing us with yet another lesson about fate, destiny and direction in our lives.
The telegram is doomed as we had expected after having, for quite some time, shed its old faithful image.
The radio, according to a "master in the business" has somehow grown stronger against all odds, while Form Six seems to have found a second wind.
The summary above extends to us no better examples of fluidity in our humdrum expectations.
The New Straits Times reported earlier last week that the telegram closed shop two Sundays ago after being in service in this country for 138 years. Blame it (again) on the Internet, in particular, the email and, of course, the SMS service through the must-have handphone.
Growing up in a boarding school in an era when the postal service ruled distance communication, I never liked the telegram for the simple reason that it became synonymous with being the bearer of bad news.
During those days away from home, the registered letter was king because receiving it almost always meant money in the mail.
But the telegram was to be dreaded as most of the time, and due to its speedy delivery, it brought unpleasant news -- an emergency in the kampung, death in the family and that sort of thing.
I remember a few occasions when policemen came in the middle of the night to the school to deliver telegrams and the students concerned shivered upon being called to receive them.
But, of course, the telegram had generally served many other purposes and conveyed messages that were far less gloomy -- in international trade, for instance, and in conveying novelty greetings. Remember the singing telegram?
Then the radio. Unlike some other communication and entertainment tools, it is holding its own against the new media.
In an interview with this paper last week, Commercial Radio Malaysia president Datuk Borhanuddin Osman, who is regarded as Malaysia's "Mr Radio", said the latest study revealed that 92 per cent of Malaysians over the age of 10 listened to the radio for at least 15 minutes each day.
The time spent listening has increased from 20 hours 45 minutes to 22 hours 21 minutes a week across all three major races. The percentage of listeners has also risen, indicating that the radio is still relevant in today's technology-driven world.
I cannot agree more. Look at the situation now: there are about 60 conventional radio stations in the country, plus several Internet radio channels, a far cry from the so-called golden era of radio in the 1960s when there was only Radio Malaysia to listen to.
We don't need a licence anymore to own a radio set and it is quite easy to set up our own private station. Given the situation, attempts to over-regulate the industry should be resisted.
Definitely 60 radio slots with their own following are enough to cater to different tastes and segments, so there is absolutely no need to impose quota rules on songs being aired.
As for Form Six, it is good to know that it is being given the kiss of life with the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that students opting for it would have an independent learning system with a different set of teachers, as well as a revamped learning timetable to better suit its status as a pre-university course.
As a product of Form Six myself, I salute the effort to make it relevant again after years of being reduced to playing second fiddle to popular courses available to students post-Form Five.
Form Six was a revelation to me and I enjoyed every minute of the two years as it was totally different from the normal classroom routine as we knew it.
Classes were interactive and the "maturity of thought" element always stood out in the lessons, especially when issues were up for discussion in the General Paper classes.
I remember the heavy literature lessons in Malay and English -- Shakespeare's Othello and Shahnon Ahmad's Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan.
There were the history books by J.M. Gullick and Joginder Singh Jessy, economics textbooks by Harcharan Singh Khera and the formulae that we had to memorise for Additional Maths.
Long live Form Six, rest in peace telegram and may the radio prosper further.
Their fate and destiny, as we discovered, lies in what we make them out to be and that's food for thought.