Tuesday, December 16, 2008

National schools and racial integration

National schools must be appealing to all

Of late there has been a great deal of focus on vernacular education. There are those who say that they should be closed as they believe that these schools are a hindrance to racial unity. On the other hand the proponents of these schools are vehemently vociferous in defending them as they claim that denying them of such schools would breach the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

The role schools is to provide wholesome education to our children from a moldable age, which includes just not striving for academic excellence but instilling good moral and social values. In a multiracial and multi religious country goodwill, tolerance and a spirit of sharing among the various races is of paramount importance and education is one of the most important tools for instilling these values which will forge unity among the races.

Having children of all races to freely mingle under one roof will definitely go a long way to promote unity among them but the environment under which they are must also be favorable to nurture this unity which is so badly needed. Unfortunately such a favorable environment does not seem to prevail in our national schools, like it used to, during the time of English-medium schools of the fifties and sixties when people of all ethnicity preferred these schools.

Education is the most important commodity for the progress of an individual and the nation. The people in general want quality education at an affordable cost, an education that can take them through the challenges in life. Are our national schools living up to these expectations of the people?

The increasing demand for private and international schools today may be an indication that our national school system may be failing in its obligation not only in uniting the people but providing quality of education as well. People from all walks of life are willing to pay a hefty sum for quality education for their children elsewhere being convinced that our national schools are not capable of providing such education.

Closing down vernacular schools would an unwise move as it may not only be unconstitutional but such actions would only create a lot of ill feeling, anger and unhappiness among those who patronise these schools. This is the last thing we need at a time of increasing inter-ethnic tensions in the country.

What needs to be done is to make our national schools more appealing to all communities.It is not the medium of instruction that is deterent but a lack of dedication among those entrusted with educating our children. In the past our English-medium schools enjoyed the patronage of all races because of their high standards that was responsible for producing many highly talented and capable leaders in many fields. However due to politicization of our education system, over the years our national schools instead of reflecting the aspirations of all Malaysians have unfortunately become more Malay and Islamic for the comfort of the non-Malay, non-Muslim Malaysians. At the same time, most Malaysians would agree that the standard of education, discipline, morals and sports in our national schools schools too have declined over the years.

Politicization of our education must stop and drastic measures taken to improve the standard of our national schools to make them the premier schools in the country. This can be done with the recruitment of more dedicated and racially balanced number headmasters, teachers and other staff. Nobody with a sound mind would want to shun national schools if they provide an exceptionally high quality of education.

There is no doubt that there can be no genuine inter-ethnic unity unless the children of all races study,play,eat and even pray together under the same roof. This can only be achieved if they all go to the national schools which must strive to be truly national to attract the children from all races.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear chris,

Thank you for a well written piece. There is no doubt that you have hit the nail on the head s regard the future of our country and its' people, as one, not many.

The issue is not whether attending a national school will make the next generation of Malaysians more Malysian. Of course it will. All of us who have been through the different systems knows this as a fact.

The issue is not about closing vernacular schools. That will just take away freedom of choice without any positive gain. People will just send their children to Singapore or India or wherever.

No, the issue like you rightly point out is to make the national schools centres of excellence for education and the people will naturally follow.

You don't see emigrants from China, Africa, India, Pakistan shirking from sending their children to national schools in the UK even though they may lose all cultural and native language connections with their very own flesh and blood in a foreign land.

Why? Simple. They believe in the education system will give their children a better future. That is whatt all parents like you and me would want for our children.

The way to do this?

Stop politicising education. There is no need to make it "English", "Chinese" or "Malay". In this global borderless world that we live in, it must encompass all three and more.

Let the educators and teachers get on with their jobs. And then, leave the final choice to the parents. You can count on them to make the right choice. Just make it easy to choose the national school.

For this to become a reality, every Malaysian, regardless of race, must compromise and work together to achieve this vision of "2020"

Hidup Malaysiaku!!!
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