Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fantasy to create a One School System

(Mingguan Malaysia, 8 November)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia

The issue on one school, an education system is not a new thing. It has been debated since before. I have spoken and written a lot about this. The situation remains and has not changed much. The answer is simple; the education has been politicized. If the Malay language as the national language cannot be uphold, how far can we proceed from there? We have provisions in the constitution, but they are not being used nor enforced. We are busy attending to the pressure from the ultra kiasu political groups. Finally, the language and education system cannot be strengthened in its own land. This country seems to have no identity as compared to other countries.

When there is news to create one school system, the ultra kiasu will rise against it. As for them, their ancestral heritage must be preserved. They will do anything, including demanding and threatening the government. Demanding and threatening have great influences with the political elections. Finally, the government relented. The one school system had to be shelved for a while.

Recently it had been voiced again, but with a different tone. The one school system is only for the secondary schools. Indeed, the secondary system flow has been standardized. There are not many vernacular schools for the secondary compared to the primary (1300 SJKC + 530 SJKT). It can be said that most of the non-Malays send their children to the national secondary schools due to the limited places in the vernacular secondary schools (5%). Therefore, there is no issues arises on the one school system for the secondary schools.

The main issues that should be seriously debated are how to create an education system that can integrate the children in the primary school level. Children should not be separated from young. Studies and time have shown that due to the separation among them from young has created difficulty to unite them again in the secondary school. The existence of the transition classes and the mastery of the Malay language among vernacular primary school students have created interactions problems between non-Malays and Malay students. In the end, they became awkward, shy and will not mix easily. They will hide in their own cocoon. This situation will make them become more kiasu.

As the head of the Parents and Teachers Association of the school where the majority were non-Malay students for the past 6 years until now, I can understand that race relations are at an alarming level. These students are not able to mix after being separated for 6 years in the primary school. Thus, it is continued to the secondary level and higher education. Look at what happened in the public and the private institutions. I do not need to speak further. It has been clearly shown. How long do we need to discuss this issue? As long as we bow to their demands and threats, it is kind of waiting for a cat to grow its horn; this deadlock will never be solved. It is to our utmost disappointment that we are only thinking for the current interests rather than on the future. We prioritized politically and thus ignoring the importance of education. Perhaps we would not be able to feel the effects today, but are we willing to leave all this to our children and great grandchildren? I am worried for by then it will be too late to be corrected.

I have repeatedly stated that as a result of this racist school system, our race relationship in this country is like a fire that cannot be put out completely. We have successfully extinguished the fire, but the amber from the fire is still there. This amber is most detrimental if left unchecked in the long run.

Recently, the National Defense University of Malaysia has organized a conference pertaining on higher education and race development. The same anxiety was heavily debated on the one school education system in our current main education system as recommended by Prof Khoo Kay Kim.

Our country is the only one in the world that adopts a multi-stream school system. There is only one school system in other countries. Even if there are more than one, it has long been abolished, thus to achieve the future and national interest. Therefore, we could see that Thailand has abolished since the beginning by destroying the Chinese school in the 1930s (Ye Lin-Sheng, 2003). In fact, Malaysia is heaven to the non-Malays for they get what they actually are not entitled. They are no different from what they were in the first place. Whatever benefits them will not be voiced out. Instead, the ultra kiasu group will continue to demand that the vernacular schools be increased in every Malaysia plan.

My question is whether we are serious on this matter. I have repeatedly stated that the national interests or the country must be put forward rather than the ethnicity interest. National schools must be given priority over the ethnic schools. National agenda will strengthen the future. Meanwhile, the ethnic agenda serves only a few specific groups only. This is the amber that is affecting the political racism in our country. I have raised this issue a long time ago but was opposed heavily by the ultra kiasu group. Refer to my previous article in the Utusan Malaysia.

The Government must take a firm stand like what have been done by other countries such as Thailand and other countries in the world. The Government must not bow down nor compromise in strengthening the future. I do not mean that we eliminate the non-Malay rights to learn their mother tongue language. They can still learn their mother tongue language. However, these students must not be separated from young.

The world civilization has proven that when people are separated from young, we are actually inviting danger in. It is already enough with the political and economic system which are racist. Do not add it to the education system which is the pillar to the development of a nation.

It is true we need to discuss. But have they ever agreed? The answer is never. In fact, they are demanding that the vernacular schools be increased from time to time. So, what is the delay? Are we expecting another recurrence of May 13 for us to review our education system? By then, it's too late. How long does it take to rise again after that? 20 years? 30 years? The effect of May 13 is still being felt to this day on how difficult it is to rise up after a fall.

The reasoning that the national schools are more Malay and Islamic (morning prayers) is not strong grounds for rejecting the one school system. What other identities that can be highlighted in a country that reflected its nation's roots? If these also are being withdrawn, then what else will remain that can reflect the identity to the Malays and Islam? Have we not realized that this position is guaranteed in the constitution? Are we still unable to comprehend this basis after living in this blessed land all this while?

No comments:

Post a Comment