This article was first published by malaysiakini.com on 21st Sept 2000 and not surprisingly, never came in any mainstream newspapers.
Recent figures released by police on the increasing number of Indians involved in gangsterism is a cause for concern.
While many has commented on the issue and some even blaming government for not helping and taking action, I hold MIC solely responsible for all the ills in the community. After all, it is MIC who claims that they are the only party representing the Indian community.
MIC leaders have been issuing one statement after another, outlining their strategies and proposed activities only after the issue of gangsterism among Indian youth was highlighted and widely debated in the media. What were they doing all the while?!
One of the contributing factors leading Indian youth to gangsterism and other criminal activities is their inability to excel in education, particularly when they enter secondary school.
The new environment and being not conversant in Bahasa Malaysia which is the medium of teaching in secondary school have resulted in students dropping out after their PMR and SPM.
The reason this happens is the poor quality of Tamil schools in the country. Most of the Tamil schools in the country are poorly managed, lack facilities and are helmed by substandard headmasters and teachers.
Is there really a need for Tamil schools in the country? What are the pros and cons of being Tamil-educated in this country?
Indians may benefit if they are in Tamil Nadu but here in our country, the most one can achieve from being conversant in Tamil is to become a Tamil school teacher. Do Indian parents want this future for their children?
I studied in a national school and learnt to read, write and communicate in Tamil without much problem although my mother tongue is Malayaalam. Isn't that enough?
I believe most of the problems would be solved if we were to close all Tamil schools and have children enrolled in the national schools. This will put them on par with students of other races and not disadvantaged due to poor command of Bahasa Malaysia.
Tamil language can still be taught as an alternative but a compulsory subject and classes can be held while agama classes are being conducted for the Muslims. This measure will also help in our aspirations of seeing a united "Bangsa Malaysia" in the future.
MIC should stop pointing fingers and seriously think for the future generations of Indians in this country. It is not enough just to claim to be the only party representing the Indians.
I ask Indians, especially those who are Tamil-educated, to come forward and support this view.
Recap: This article met with fierce criticism from various quarters including this (http://www.indianmalaysian.com/violence_tamil_school.htm). I would still stick to my assertion that Malaysia should have only one school and that should be the school for everyone regardless of race or religion.
A compromise would be that languages such as Mandarin and Tamil must be taught or even made compulsory.
Educationist (I would rather label them education extremist) may not agree and staunchly defend the need to have mother-tongue education.
That's fine, can the same educationist defend the rights of mother tongue education for minor ethnic groups such as portuguese, Punjabis, Malayalees, telugu and many other ethnics in Sabah and Sarawak. Everyone know that this not possible as it would really bring about various issues and stretch government resources. But these education groups or political parties are not bothered as these minorities mean nothing in terms of votes or influence.
Various groups also opposed to the idea of having Vision Schools mooted by Dr Mahathir, giving lame excuses that they fear losing their identity. What a lame excuse.
The simple idea of having different schools in the same compound has met with fierce rejection. Are their vernacular education quality is so poor that they fear that their children would be easily influenced by kids of other races within the school compound and lose their identity.
As far as physical identity is concerned, I never seen any non-national schools with any different stuctures as compared to a national school. So it's quite baffling to hear their reasons for rejection of Vision Schools even though Dr M promised that government would assist financially.
The recent debate on teaching of Science and Maths in English has also brought about the worst in all of us. Every other group released and published research papers favouring their point of view.
Most of these research papers highlighted the failure of the policy citing recent UPSR, PMR and SPM results and concludes with how well the students education & upbringing and career would be if they are educated in the mother tongue, i.e Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil.
In a malaysian give and take style, a compromise is apparently being worked on where teaching science and maths would only be in secondary schools. I cannot see what is the benefit of this.
Fed up with the nonsense by education and political groups, a group of Parents (The Parent Action Group for Education-PAGE) has sprung to the defence of the policy and now we have a good fight.
When cornered, everyone runs to hide behind their favourite curtain or kain ; their rights within the constitution.
In the end, race still matters to most in this country. How many actually have Mandarin and proper Tamil as their mother tongue? It's all about the quality and the systems in place and not really language.
Children can be multi-lingual if they are taught various languages at young age. How do we explain the enrollment of thousands of non-chinese in chinese schools? Have they (mainly Malays) lost their identity, faith or even forgot their mother tongue or dialects?
I regret that few non-chinese in Chinese schools and non-malays in national has come forward to defend the policy and strongly espouse the notion that young malaysians can be taught various languages at the same time in any type of school without losing their identity, culture, faith or their mother tongue.
We can do away with insignificant subjects such as history, moral studies or geography in primary schools and replace it with language classes.
Issues relating to racial unity and national intergration will continue to haunt this country generations to come until and unless young malaysian go to the same school, Full Stop...