We now publish more pro and contra views on the subject of single stream education or Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS) for our country, Malaysia, for a continued healthy and constructive discussion among us.
The following articles were obtained from the public domain. Let us discuss the views put out in the articles in the usual, civil manner.
Everybody is welcomed to participate in the discussion – both those resident locally and those overseas. We also welcome both pro and contra comments from non-Malaysians in Malaysia or elsewhere in the world.
Do feel free to let us know what you think – not only of what is said in the articles and comments in this post but also those in past posts.
The post immediately before this carries a few comments with historical perspective.
1. Vernacular Schools Detrimental to National Integration?
Vernacular School? Is it detrimental to National Integration? bla bla bla
June 22nd, 2008
Great discussion with Sang Suria yesterday.
First and foremost, we defined what is meant by ‘vernacular’.
Kamus Dewan – relating to or a language or dialect commonly spoken by the members of a particular group or a community in a society Oxford Fajar Advanced Learner’s English-Malay Dictionary – language or dialect spoken in a particular country or region, as compared with a formal or written language.
From this two interpretation, we can sum up that ‘vernacular’ means the non-formal language that is commonly spoken by a particular group of people in a society. Language systems for the Indians, Chinese, Malays and other minorities were considered as vernacular languages back in the British Occupation. Why? The formal language back then was the English Language because the British were in power over Tanah Melayu. (I rule your country, therefore you must use my language!)
People like Chin Peng fought for the democratic rights – the equality of languages and culture as contained in their Anti-Japanese Nine Point Manifesto in 1943 and the Eight Point Programme in 1945. Of course it wasn’t a successful move.
Two years later, in 1947, Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (Putera) and the All-Malayan Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) combined efforts to formulate a document called “The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya.” The Malay Language emerged as the national and official language, replacing English during the post-independence.
The Chinese and Tamil languages faced discrimination. The Alliance and BN did not promote a healthy growth for the languages. (Racist freaks!) (I rule your country, therefore you must use my language!)
We didn’t really touch on this side of the story in yesterday’s discussion. We talked more about experiences for those coming from vernacular schools. I didn’t even utter a word at all because I’m not from any vernacular school and didn’t know what to protect whether is it detrimental to national integration.
See, my primary and secondary school are of the national schools. During primary education, un/fortunately, I was the only Chinese in the whole school of hundreds of pupils. I got along very well with Malay and Indian friends. I can even speak the language without flaws, as if I’m a Malay.
Secondary education was a little hard for me to adapt to. Why? The school that I went to is a multicultural school, Malays, Indians, and Chinese were mixed together in a classroom. In fact, I faced difficulties to speak Mandarin because I have not learnt it. Family members speak English to me since childhood. Of course the language barrier wasn’t a big problem because I picked up the language quite fast. (I broke the rules of Critical Period Hypothesis. Haha.) Then I got along very well among Chinese friends.
Indian friends are not a small amount too. I used the English Language to communicate with them, sometimes BM. Not as bad though. I used three languages in school. It was cool.
To answer the question “are vernacular schools detrimental to national integration?” YES! Why must we segregate the people according to races? National schools can give the best of national integrity when everybody is mixed together. Put in vernacular languages into national schools as electives. Anybody can take up extra language subjects. Want to learn about the History of the Chinese Language? Make it as a subject in school! I think there won’t be any objections, maybe there are. Nobody will ever know the answer if there aren’t any actions taken. Maybe this could be one of the agenda in upcoming Rancangan Malaysia.
There are a lot of factors which can counter that argument too, such as family upbringing. Parents are the ones who shape their children’s mindsets. “Cina tu makan babi, haram tau, jangan pi kawan ngan mereka.” “Malay people are lazy, they are the criminals, not a good friend to be with.” “Indians are dark, dirty and smell of Indian oil, don’t go near them.”
Did you ever hear this before? I bet you guys did and kept quiet about it. Parents therefore send their children to vernacular schools just so that they can mix with their own kind. What can we do? These mindsets are permanently set in the minds of everyone since young. How do we erase these mindsets? Not an easy task. We should all bring the People’s Constitutional back alive again, where we regard everyone is equal. We filled in forms with “bangsa Malaysia” instead of Melayu, Cina, India, Lain-lain.
2. Battle To Save Malaysia’s Chinese Dropouts
Chow Kum Hor
Thu, Jan 31, 2008
The Straits Times
Battle to save Malaysia’s Chinese dropouts
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – MRS Chong, a mother of two, is deeply worried about her 11-year-old daughter’s studies.
The reason: The Standard Six pupil does not seem to have much homework from her Mandarin-medium school in Seri Kembangan, a predominantly Chinese middle-class enclave that is 30 minutes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Although school has just started, others in her daughter’s year have already been inundated with schoolwork in preparation for the year-end government examination that Standard Six pupils take.
But her daughter and her classmates ‘appear to have been spared the burden’, although they are ‘not very good’ in their studies, said the 38-year-old housewife, who declined to give her full name.
Those familiar with the Chinese school system in Malaysia will understand Mrs Chong’s anxiety.
It is not uncommon for these schools to neglect the less academically inclined, and lack of homework is one of the signs. Teachers are too busy coaching the potential top-scorers to spend time on the weaker pupils.
‘Some schools are overly focused on those who can score a string of As. These are the students who give their schools a good name. But they (the good students) are the minority,’ said Chinese educationist Goh Kean Seng.
The result is that those who fail to keep up with their schoolwork drop out of school in later years, said Mr Goh, principal of a private Chinese secondary school in KL and an active member of an influential Chinese education group.
The situation is worsened by the switch from Mandarin to Malay as the medium of instruction when the pupils go on to secondary school, he added.
Government primary schools use either Malay, Mandarin or Tamil as the medium of instruction. But all government secondary schools teach in Malay.
About 90 per cent of Chinese children in Malaysia go to Mandarin-medium primary schools, which are run by the government.
But less than 5 per cent go on to Mandarin-medium secondary schools, which are privately-run and fee-paying. Parents prefer to send their children to government schools, where education is free.
‘Many drop out because they cannot cope with the change in the medium of instruction,’ said Mr Goh.
It does not help that some parents refuse to send their children to ‘Remove Classes’, a year-long preparatory programme in secondary schools to bring children up to speed in the Malay language.
Pupils who fail their Malay language exam at Standard Six are required to go on this programme before they can start Form One. But those who do so are often perceived to be slow learners, so parents try to get their children exempted from it.
Deputy Education Minister Hon Choon Kim told The Straits Times: ‘Many parents see Remove Classes as a dumping ground, which should not be the case.’
The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) estimates that 25 per cent of Chinese students quit studying before they are 18, when they are due to sit for a government exam equivalent to the O levels.
This estimate puts the annual dropout figure at over 100,000 – what the party’s youth wing calls a ‘silent epidemic’.
There are no official figures on the number of dropouts among the Chinese, but feedback that the MCA gets from the community suggests that the situation has deteriorated, especially over the past five years.
Among the dropouts, some become apprentices in workshops, picking up skills like plumbing or motor-repair. But many more, eager to make a quick buck, find themselves in illicit trades, such as peddling pirated DVDs or collecting debts for loan sharks.
Police statistics do not show the number of dropouts involved in criminal activity. But MCA officials say anecdotal evidence suggests that more youngsters these days are prepared to break the law to earn a living.
Malaysia’s crime rate has been soaring over the years, going up by 7 per cent last year compared with 2006.
‘It’s very sad to see young Chinese dropping out of school at the age of 15 to 17 and ending up trying to evade police arrest every day,’ MCA Youth’s education bureau chief Wee Ka Siong told The Straits Times.
The party is deeply concerned, not only because education has always been important to the Chinese community.
‘With globalisation, not having the paper qualification puts you at a disadvantage. We do not want young, able Malaysians to lose out,’ said Mr Wee, also a lawmaker from Johor.
The MCA has set up a series of programmes to address this problem, one of which helps the less academically inclined enrol in vocational schools.
This way, they not only acquire skills like electrical wiring or tile-laying, but also have a piece of paper that says they are qualified.
The party also arranges for students with mediocre or poor grades to get extra coaching after school.
In addition, it has set up a RM6 million (S$2.6 million) fund to subsidise dropouts undergoing skills courses.
Datuk Hon said that the Education Ministry, together with the MCA, has undertaken a pilot project in about 10 Mandarin-medium primary schools nationwide to reduce the number of dropouts. It is aimed mainly at boosting the self-confidence of those who are not exactly star students.
‘Sometimes, we hold essay-writing competitions that exclude straight As students. If we open the contest to all, only the good students will win,’ he explained. Parents are invited to the prize-winning ceremonies of these contests.
He noted that the programme has had encouraging success, with students showing more enthusiasm for their studies. The ministry plans to expand the programme to more schools.
‘We just do not want anyone left out. Every student counts,’ Datuk Hon said.
This article was first published in the The Straits Times on Jan 30, 2008
3. Which One Comes First, the Nation or Oneself or Maintaining Mother Tongue?
1-School system and 1-Malaysia
03/11/2009 by drrafick
1. Past week few people commented about the need of having a single stream school system in Malaysia. Najib as anticipated played down the issue by saying that it will not be implemented if the people do not want it. As Malaysian, we need to ask ourselves which is more important, political survival of some politicians or the need to be one, as a nation.
2. Some people may argue that the country has progressed over the last 52 years with the current system in place. There isn’t a need to change because education index among Malaysian is high, per capita income is high. We have many highways and tall buildings. Are these criteria enough to measure the maturity and success of a nation?
3. Former Propaganda Minister, Zainuddin Maidin said “Malaysia should emulate Singapore’s single stream school system so as to produce a population that “no longer spoke and acted on racial sentiments”. Well, there is some truth about what the Zainuddin is saying but it is not the only reason. Singapore became what it is today, because of strong political leadership with political will and strong governance. They had one mission and the mission remains the same since 1965. In Malaysia, it is not the same. For e.g. One PM came with out with Islam Hadhari and the next PM made it into “Islam hari hari”. The point I am trying to get at is that our goals change with the PM of the country.
4. The key point that we must accept is that after 52 years of implementing the present education system, the people of this country are still divided along racial lines. The current system of education does not promote trust between the people. It becomes a sore point among many people in the street. We must appreciate that the current system is in place because some people felt it is a must to maintain their mother tongue and the politicians who pushed this ideology did it for the sake of themselves and not the country, Malaysia. These are the very people who govern the nation for 52 years and place their interest first before the nation. I believe it is time to move forward.
5. If we accept the fact that Malaysia comes first before the politicians and the hardcore racist people, then we must do what is right. The right thing is the government must provide a single stream education system. This is not something new. It is practiced worldwide. It is proven beyond the shores of Singapore. In Indonesia, the government there even forces the non Malays to have an Indonesian name but we don’t have to go that far. We must accept that people, who eat, play together and talks in common language maintains a stronger and lasting bond. We must start afresh after having a failed system in the last 52 years.
6. We must have the political will to change. It is better to cut off and starts a new and gets rid of this thorn in the flesh. The government must no longer support vernacular schools. Politicians on both sides must not be held ransom by the votes of people that support vernacular system. The vernacular schools can continue to exist on their own as other private schools in the country. This is done in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and many other parts of the world. They should not get any government funding. Any government of the day that continues funding vernacular schools either via donation or others means that the government is promoting racial based policies. Maintaining mother tongue and culture should be done at home. Malaysian school system must be devoid of excessive religious infusion and must focus on key elementary subjects. Language classes can be provided within the government system as an option. My not so favorite Education Deputy Minister, Wee Kah Siong may not agree with me. He would argue that it is embeded in the Malaysian constitution. We have change the constitution more than thousand times. Changing it once more makes no difference.
7. As Malaysian, we need to ask ourselves. Which one comes first, the nation or oneself or maintaining mother tongue? Should we sacrifice and continue splitting this nation of ours along racial lines or focused to be as one. To me, Malaysia comes first.
4. Sad Over Dong Zong Statements
Reconsider stand on single school stream
I WAS full of disbelief and felt so sad for the young souls of Malaysia after reading statements made by Dong Zong in the local media recently regarding the single stream school system.
As much as I respect the association’s right to its opinion on this matter, I fail to understand why it has to object to a proposal which will ultimately make Malaysia a better place to live for all of us.
The claim made by the education movement’s president that “instead of promoting national unity, the implementation of the single stream school system would hamper unity and create racial tensions” is definitely badly flawed and bordering on the ludicrous.
The association may have its own objectives and expectations to meet, but it should look at the big picture and put the interest of the nation above all else. I can only wish the majority of the people do not subscribe to such sentiments, otherwise we might as well bid farewell to peace and harmony in this country for the future.
It is common knowledge and universally accepted that children learn best at a young age. It is during these times that they should be given the opportunity to mix freely regardless of race, colour and creed.
A conducive environment made available at this stage is important to allow them to foster racial goodwill and inculcate the virtues of understanding, sharing and caring. To deprive them of this space will limit their ability to develop the feeling of camaraderie and oneness in their adult life.
Another equally intriguing point raised by the association is for “all quarters to raise their guard and to stand firm against any assimilation policy”. I can’t clearly remember any programme or action undertaken by the Government since independence that can be regarded as trying to assimilate the people into a single community.
On the other hand, what was aggressively propagated in the past is the integration of the various races to enable them to co-exist peacefully in a multiracial country like ours.
One can’t help but wonder how an experienced group like Dong Zong can come up with such indefensible statements in relation to the single school system. I don’t want to delve into the politics of the movement and will leave the guessing game to others.
The association may have good reasons only best known to them when making these comments. Nevertheless, I would suggest that Dong Zong seriously reconsider their stand on the issue, this time around giving more thought to and emphasis on efforts deemed pertinent to nation-building.
Meanwhile, the powers-that-be should treat the single school issue with tact, but at the same time decisively and firmly in their proceedings. As peace-loving citizens, we should also do our part by throwing full support to the proposal.
Indeed, it is incumbent on all of us to contribute selflessly towards making this country a united and successful nation, in tandem with the spirit of 1Malaysia.
ZAMRI BIN MAHMUD,