Monday, September 13, 2010

One School For All - Remains A Distant Dream

With all the recent talk about, race, racist remarks, race based policies, racist politicians racist teachers, perkasa etc, one thing is quite clear, this debate will never end and only likely to tone down for a while until some groups or cetain individuals feel that they are losing popularity and want to be in the limelight again.

Not much is going to change, not in my lifetime, I guess. The only option or hope that we have to minimise this unnecessary friction between communities lies with our children. The current Malaysian adults, who mainly grew up and went to school mainly with their own kind are unlikely to change. They are so used to their own race, they don’t care and they do not have the time to understand other races, their cultures, habits, needs and wants. By the time they are released to mingle with other races, either in the universities or workplace, their minds is already tuned to look at things from their own racial perspective.

The only hope of bridging all the races closer is to start with the young and get them to go to the same school. Close all vernacular schools; there is no other way or no other options. 1Malaysia will remain sounding hollow if nothing is done to get all Malaysian children together which also means, integrating or merging Tamil, Chinese and National schools.

Whenever this suggestion of ‘One School For All’ is brought up, there are always opposition by various groups claiming that it is against the constitution to question the existence of vernacular schools. The Constitution is not caste in stone and there should not be any attempt to stop discussion on certain articles of the constitution that may be outdated and unsuitable for the future of this country and education in certainly one of them.

Recent debate between Nurul Izzah Anwar and Perkasa’ Ibrahim Ali ended with the latter highlighting that provisions of special privileges are not debatable. The same happened when MCA said that it is against the constitution to question the existence of Chinese or Tamil Schools.

Recent incidents also revealed that after 53 years, Many Malaysians are not fluent in the national language. I also noticed that many champions of Ketuanan Rakyat, Malaysian Malaysia and 1Malaysia are not fluent in the national language which beg a question, are they taught properly in the Tamil and Chinese schools? I notice the same with some of our sportsman who struggles to deliver a sentence when interviewed.

Apart from language fluency, we have politicians, political analyst, academics criticizing various forms of racism in schools and government departments including recent incidents involving teachers in the national school. But no one (except for few like Mukhriz Mahathir) appears to be brave enough to suggest that children of all races should go to the same school.

Intergration of all schools will certainly result in proportionate number of non-malay educationist and administrators in the single school stream. This itself would be a balancing factor and minimise occurrences of racism in schools. Apart from this, best practice of all these schools can be shared and chances are, quality of the merged schools will be better than before. Government can then finance all schools equitably.

The other issue is of course the language medium.

To defend their schools, vernacular school champion’s claims children are better taught in their own mother tongue. To support their theory, they came up with various studies which is skewed to favor the existence of vernacular schools. Chinese and Tamil schools champions claims that they would lose their identity when suggestions of sekolah Wawasan arose during the Mahathir years. What identity? Inability to speak Bahasa Malaysia?

If they have genuinely and seriously believe their own theory of children should be taught in their own mother tongue, they should have chased away close to 70,000 non-Chinese students who goes to Chinese Schools. Or at least, they should not encourage such enrollment in the first place.

Without the need for any academic studies, there is an excellent example nearby in Singapore, where the population breakdown is similar to Malaysia. There are no Chinese or Tamil Schools and everyone goes to the same school. Everyone is made or rather forced to learn their own mother tongue but more importantly the rest of the subjects are taught in English. This real and live example alone is sufficient to debunk the theory of our local vernacular champions that the young must be taught in their mother tongue.

Apart from this ridiculous theory, these champions appears to hide the facts that Mandarin and Tamil is not the mother tongue of significant population of non-Malays in the country. For example why not MIC champion the need for Punjabi, Malayalam or Telugu Schools, as these ethnic groups combined are as big as the ethnic Tamils in the country

While we cannot reason with MCA and MIC on the suggested abolishment of vernacular schools, it’s rather sad that the so-called government in waiting, Pakatan Rakyat fully supports vernacular schools. Pakatan Rakyat was also rallied against the teaching of Science and Maths in English. Do we want to hand the reigns of the country and future of our children to this non-forward thinking coalition? Who else can we depend on when it is for sure that BN is unlikely to change the status quo.

It appears that no one wants to think practically when it comes to national intergration. Malaysians with certain agenda have become too smart, they come up with various studies to prove that they are right at all cost. They resist change which is not in their favour or does not fit their agenda though it might benefit the society at large.

Practically, looking at the Singapore example, have anyone lost their identity, forget their mother tongue or their culture or even religion by going to the same school? Have race relations gone from bad to worse in Singapore when they started to go to the same school?

Whoever who thinks so must be some well read but poorly educated morons and looks like they are well represented in BN, Pakatan Rakyat and various race based NGOs and education groups.

If I am a prominent blogger or politician, I would have, in two or three days, be charged for sedition for questioning the constitution. Opponents to the 'One School for all' cannot and will not even bother to debate merits of of the proposal and will always cowardly hide behind the seditions act will calls to defend the constitution.


Jebatmustdie said...

A very good post Balan!

I enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

I am a chinese parent who was brought up in excellent national (SRK & SM) schools yet I probably would not enrol my children in them any longer. Pesonally it is not the mandarin language but the quality of the education which is important. I and most chinese parents would have had no problems sending our children to national schools if they could meet the current standards upheld by the chinese vernacular schools and had a good POL programme. The recent unconcluded controversies with the headteachers also strengtened chinese parents resolve on the type of schools they would chose for their child. I think certain bloggers like outsyed the box also had interesting views on national vs type schools. The nutgraph also had a series on chinese schools. I am sorry but I cannot comment on the state of Tamil schools.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, I am considering talking about the same in my blog.