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Happy Anniversary One School Campaign!

It is heartening to see that more and more people are receptive to the idea of single school stream here in Malaysia. Streamlining the education system via the national schools is the only way to achieve a steady cultivation of national unity.

In today’s NST, there is a letter to the editor which projected the idea of unifying our children under one stream education. It is vital, and it must start now before it is too late.

Education: National schools are better for ethnic unity

STUDIES on education in a multicultural society have shown that ethnic diversity is not a threat to national unity. The problem of racial polarisation is more due to a separation of different cultures in different schools but not the presence of children of diverse races and religions within a single school.

Ethnic diversity is not a threat to national unity, provided children of different races and religions grow up together under a single national education system that discriminates against no one. By having different sets of schools for different ethnic groups, we are in actuality polarising the education process.

History has proven that in some countries, people of different races and faiths can live harmoniously under a democratic government when they are willing to sacrifice a bit of their differences for the sake of the country.

Our national education policy should thus see to the bridging of this gap of diversity and it has to be tackled judiciously to avoid any sort of schism in our society. If this gap is not narrowed, it can lead to a lack of tolerance for one another and the disintegration of our society.

It can be observed that shared values and tolerance for one another are more conspicuous in multiracial schools at the primary school level but begins to deteriorate the moment pupils are streamed into schools or institutions with a single race domination.

All national schools should reflect the multiracial population of the country. The national schools should cater to the needs of all races.

Mother tongue should not be an issue to some parents as it can be taught in all national schools. Parents and pupils should be allowed to choose which “extra” language they wish to learn.

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that national schools will always surpass vernacular or religious schools to achieve this noble vision of depolarising the races in the country.

The nation’s current multi-stream education system should be re-examined, but before this can happen, the national schools have first to play a more crucial role in our education process to bring all the races together. Racial polarisation, if not nipped in the bud, could destroy the foundation of our society.

DR M.A. NAIR
Kuantan, Pahang

It is imperative that we view his opinion with an open mind. There are truths in it. With that, I would like to congratulate the Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua website for its 1st year anniversary. It was launched on 31st August 2009. There is also a petition for you to sign if you agree to this campaign. Please have put down your signature HERE.

Congratulations to Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS) for persevering in promoting this effort. Where even the government is too cowardly to act on something as good as this, the SSS had remained steadfast in pursuing this noble cause.

All for national unity.

Hopefully, The New Straits Times, as the nation’s premier thinking man’s paper, can lead the way in disseminating information for this goal to be achieved.

Thank you.

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18 Comments

  1. sputjam says:

    How about suggesting the ending of racial discrimination in our education system?

    JMD : It could end when there is one school system. Imagine all children study under one roof. They will breed tolerance and acceptance with one another. Just like the days of the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s and to a certain extent, the 80′s and 90′s. When this children grow up, they will become educators themselves. Some will become leaders. I don’t thnk after 11 years of accepting one another, they will become hateful of one another. Thank you.

    • Dot says:

      What “ending of racial discrimination in our education system” is this guy talking about?

      Is he referring to the Johor school Principal’s remarks to some pupils alleged to be racist?

      Didn’t he read the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education that there were “inconsistencies” in the information pertaining to the matter, that Police reports have been made and that the Ministry of Education had appointed a Committee headed by the Deputy Secretary General of the Education Ministry to investigate?

      He should wait for the Police and the Education Ministry Committee’s investigations before making comments on the incidence being a racist matter.

  2. glassman says:

    About the poll, we can vote as much as we can, but if the ultra kiasu’s doesn’t want to. what can we do?

    by the way…. I have an anectode to tell. It was Shahrizats 1st election, I was still holding office of Pemangku Ketua Pemuda, our ketua pemuda dissappeared. NV that. Anyways, this is about Jebat. I was confronted just before closing of the polling station in my area of that tamil school of which her name I cannot recall, by some friendly PAS supporters. They snidely said, isn’t it better to be Jebat rather than Hang Tuah, I replied instantly. Never! Never shall I act like a maniac, think like a maniac and never will I agree that jebat is right! Hang Tuah is right, taat pada raja atau pemimpin. tq for the space for my two cents. :)))

  3. sepadu says:

    Dr Nair has put out many relevant points with which I agree. I wish to have a few points verified, if I may.

    All national schools already “reflect the multiracial population of the country”. Indeed, “national schools should cater to the needs of all races”. Within reason.

    Dr Nair has pointed out that mother tongue should not be an issue to some parents as it can be taught in all national schools. Mandarin and Tamil can certainly be taught as elective subjects. Beyond that, it would be difficult to determine the limits. There are so many languages, dialects and sub-dialects in the country. It will be impossible to arrange for schools to have teachers in those so many languages at every school or even one out of every ten schools. But parents should certainly be allowed to choose Mandarin and Tamil as “extra” language for their children to learn in national schools.

    I fully agree with Dr Nair that “it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that national schools will always surpass vernacular or religious schools to achieve this noble vision of depolarising the races in the country”. Parents also have a role to play in assisting the schools, through parent-teachers associations, in enforcing discipline and disseminating to parents the dos and don’ts of their children. School hours is only about a quarter of the daily existence of the children.

    I fully support the good doctor’s suggestion that “The nation’s current multi-stream education system should be re-examined”. But it doesn’t have to wait for the national schools “playing a more crucial role in our education process to bring all the races together”. As racial polarisation is now prevalent, and schools are an important medium for reducing and improving it, the Government should commission an in-depth study into the existing three systems of education (national, Chinese and Tamil), determine the strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations on improvements, with a view to the “depolarisation”.

  4. Aku says:

    JMD,

    It’s high time. The Government should have acted on this matter of 3 systems of education a long time ago.

    It’s ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. The Constitution says Bahasa Malaysia is the National Language. BM is the Official Language. School is the official business of the country. Of any country.

    What has been there for over 50 years needs not be right. It is not right. It cannot be right when having Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction in schools contradicts Article 152 of the Constitution.

    Past leaders have swept the problem under the carpet. But now racial polarisation has reached unmanageable proportions. One columnist in a Chinese news organ Sin Chew even says, “The time bomb is ticking fast”. It may explode and we must avoid another May 13, 1969.

    We must get the rakyat together, beginning with the young at their formative age, in schools. The Government must start planning on the satu sekolah system – begin by carrying out the in-depth study that has been spoken for. Find out the good and the bad points of the current education systems, think out how to remedy and improve them.

    JMD : Thank you Aku for the comment and the support.

  5. Adzlan says:

    Popular struggles for the good of the country are bound to meet fierce opposition and tirades from hysterics inside the country (and sometimes outside). But we must never be intimidated by this fact. One very recent success which is often understated, was when the 5th Prime Minister stepped down to let the healing process of the country to commence. That was a victory whose strugglers knew that they will not win tomorrow. They knew they will suffer a lot of defeats, setbacks. But if anything is to change, they have to keep at it and continue to do what is the core of any significant social change; organizing and educating the masses. The fight for national unity is not an exception, the fight for SSUS is not an exception. So on this 53rd anniversary of our beloved country, I like to wish all Malaysians, especially the people who tirelessly spend their time and energy writing blogs, giving talks at community halls, and writing to newspapers to better their country, “Merdeka!”. May God and the people reward all of you, amen.

    • Abdul says:

      It is refreshing to hear solid and and steady arguments in support of the SSS, and words of encouragement, like Adzlan’s above. I wish to weigh in, too.

      It is true that the SSS proponents must never feel intimidated or discouraged. Theirs is a correct line of action, a noble cause. Truth shall always prevail and rights triumph over wrongs.

      It is a matter of time. Even Tun Abdullah Badawi caved in to the public demanding that the many wrongs in the country be righted. Now it’s Dato Seri Najib’s time. The least he can do is not be seen, say or act in support of a wrong. The vernacular schools are wrong in that they use Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction whereas the Constitution says Bahasa Malaysia is the National Language.

  6. Ismail N says:

    Salam JMD. I don’t know how the govt will ever act on this matter when many of us still care less over this issue. After a year, only 2,677 signed the petition which is truly disappointing. After all it is easy to get 3000 ++ people these days to do street demonstration and creates nuisance. Still it is encouraging to see there are people like you, DR M.A. Nair and KijangMas that have not give up hope in pursuing this noble cause. I wish SSS the best and many more people come forward to support this idea. By the way, I hope it is not to early to wish you and your family Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin since I’ll be offline for a week in few days time.

    • Muhammad says:

      Encik Ismail,

      I disagree that “many of us still care less over this issue”. Many are reluctant to sign the Petition because of uncertainty of its impact on the whole SSS Proposal or the attitude of the Government in power.

      Some may even feel intimidated by the fact that the Prime Minister has shown his support for Chinese schools by visiting Chinese schools, saying Chinese schools can continue, giving millions of Ringgit cash to Chinese schools. No doubt as election gimmicks but they reflect his stand.

      But there are times when he stands on shaky ground. His overly overtures to the Chinese (including on economic matters) have not brought him the votes he ran after. Despite his bending backward to placate the Chinese, even MCA has exploited the situation and and their Economic Congress called for abolition of the 30% Bumi equity. There have been adverse reactions showing possible additional votes running away from him.

      As Adzlan has stated above, even Tun Abdullah gave way when votes ran away from him at 2008 GE and later as a consensus among UMNO top brass.

      Perkasa, Gertak, Melayu Bangkit and over 100 Malay NGOs have spoken up. A few hundred thousand Malay votes are amassing in the MPM. MPM has supported the single-stream schooling or SSS cause. The Petition signing has been increasing in recent times.

      I’m sure the SSS people appreciate your good wishes. But have you signed the Petition yourself? If you haven’t, hope you and family will do so soon. And persuade others to do so. We need SSS for long term unity and peace – for our children, grand children and their descendants.

  7. Dogsick says:

    The challenges that public schools have are quite immense:-

    1. As private schools charge quite a high fee and have regular donation drive, they tend to have better security, facilities and teachers. Public schools don’t have deep pockets so they are really disadvantaged.

    2. Education standards tend to be higher in private schools because they have to compete among one another to get customers, er, I mean, students

    3. The medium of instruction in private schools is believed by parents to be beneficial when they join the workforce (which is a point that I constantly argue with some my friends as some of their children “cannots spoken the England propry”. I was also told that Malaysian mandarin has a unique accent which is different from those spoken in China)

    4. Critics and politicians will point out that using, teaching and learning of other language is enshrined in in Article 152(a)(1) which is seditious to question like Article 153 on Malay Special Provision and Part III on citizenship. Why are all the interesting articles in the constitution seditious!? There was an amendment was made to the Malaysian Constitution in 1971 to that effect. Personally, I think that we are not questioning but discussing so we should be safe.

    I support making English as a medium of instruction in National Schools with an emphasis on Bahasa Melayu while Mandarin and Tamil are elective languages that students can take. I also support the formation of a curriculum that develops critical thinking and semangat kenegeraaan. Also in the wish list is increase emphasis on the arts, sports and decrease emphasis on examinations.

    That way, we can truly give private schools a run for their money.

    • Tigersick says:

      Article 152 says BM is the National Language of the country, man. It is also the Official Language. Schools are the official business of any country. So it is in this country.

      Learn English as a second language. Mandarin and Tamil as elective subjects in schools with BM as the medium of instruction.

      Article 153 on the Special Position of the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak (referred to as “natives” in the Constitution) is a sensitive issue. So it was added to the List of subjects protected under the Sedition Act 1948. You wouldn’t want questioning of the Special Position greeted with counter-questioning of the citizenship right of the non-Malays and their descendants, would you. Wouldn’t that be sensitive?

      If you discuss it, so can the Malays discuss your citizenship right. Like asking the Language Proficiency Test be strictly enforced, say, on issue of MyKad. But where would that lead to?

      • Dogsick says:

        Dear Tigersick,

        My point is that these schools don’t rely too much on government funding and hence it is going to be difficult to get them on board with the program. I don’t have the official breakdown of the allocation under the 10th Malaysian plan, but from Wikipedia, 96.5% of the funding for schools in the 7th Malaysian plan went to national schools while the national type schools only got 3.5%. In one of the report in The Star earlier this year, the MCA said that RM 315m (which amounts to 1.36% of a total of RM 23.2b for the Ministry of Education) was given to Chinese schools under 9MP.

        Note that the funding above is for national type primary schools. The 60 odd national type Chinese secondary schools are self funded and private. Even with such low funding, these schools have managed to enroll close to 70,000 non-Chinese students in 1998. The latest breakdown of enrolment by race is not published but there is little evidence to show that they are ebbing.

        Like I said, I’m not questioning the existence of national type schools, only discussing so I don’t think I’m being seditious so please, I’m not asking for a ban on teaching or learning of other languages apart from our national language. However, rather than having a view that we strong arm every parent to capitulate to a single stream school, we have to make our proposals attractive and competitive to what is already out there in the market. It is going to be a political landmine to navigate through if we just push a single point of view without offering some concrete proposals without addressing the fears that people may have with our proposal.

    • Dogsick says:

      Tigersick,

      In haste, I misread your comments and assumed that you had said that I was being seditious for “questioning” the Chinese schools.

      Article 152 protects the sanctity of Malay as the national language of this federation. Clause 1 of that article, in verbatim, reads:-

      ” The national language shall be the Malay language and shall be
      in such script as Parliament may by law provided that: —
      (a) no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning, any other language; and
      (b) nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Goverment or of any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation.”

      The rest of the article covers usage of English for 10 years from Merdeka Day in the Houses of Parliaments, DUN, courts. Official purpose is covered in clause 6 to mean any purpose of the government and includes any purpose of a public authority.

      We’re on pretty thin ice here. While we can rightfully we can argue that whatever money that is being channel to schools is an official purpose (ie. the purpose to educate our children) and rightfully no funds should be channeled to these national type schools, saying the we should prohibit the teaching, learning and using of other languages in private is just not constitutional.

      Dalam perbincangan kami, janganlah naik sampai persoalan kewarganegaranku. Apatah lagi, saya memang tiada kewarganegaraan yang lain selagi tanahair tercintaku, Malaysia. Nenek moyang saya telah lama berada di tanah Melayu. Saya masih teringat bahawa nenek saya suka bercerita dengan jirannya sambil mengunyah sirih. Perbualan antara mereka adalah dalam Bahasa Melayu. Kemanalah saya nak pergi jika dibuang negeri?

  8. Tigersick says:

    Dear Dogsick,

    I think talking about 152 is not seditious. 153 is.

    I’m trying to understand you, friend. But quoting Wikipedia is no help to me. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can edit any writing there any time.

    And why are talking about funding schools that are not in conformity with 152 anyway?

    You said, “rather than having a view that we strong arm every parent to capitulate to a single stream school, we have to make our proposals attractive and competitive to what is already out there in the market”. How else do we do it? Have you any concrete suggestions?

    The People at Kempen SSS (just google those words and you’ll get there) have been speaking about it with so many suggestions for over a year now. The Chinese school proponents doggedly (no pun intended on your chosen blogging name) stick to the same arguments. All sorts of leniency and good faith have been shown. Including no objection to Mandarin though it’s not mother tongue as mentioned in the Constitution and Mandarin and Tamil can be studied as elective subjects.

    They cannot say, “Give me what I want, then only I’ll give what the country wants”. Got to hear what President JF Kennedy said: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

    Fellows have to learn a little about sense of loyalty to the country. Loyalty must be based on respect for and living by the Constitution of the country. 152 must be respected and lived by, at least officially and in public.

    And we are not talking about patriotism yet, mate.

  9. Tigersick says:

    Dogsick,

    Maybe asking for abolishment of Chinese schools is unacceptable. But I think the fellows are talking about Chinese schools adopting BM as the medium of instruction and same syllabus as the national schools. When these happen, everybody will want to go to Chinese schools based on proximity to homes, convenient location, etc.

    The teachers and support staff can continue with adjustments to cater for the changes later on and the schools can be given full funding thereafter. The schools can continue physically, with changes like those stated above.

    • Dogsick says:

      Tigersick,

      I’m pointing to the fact that the government is only giving cursory aid to the non-national schools as a matter of political expediency. The 9MP spend of 1.36% is calculated from the figure that MCA quoted (6th July, The Star, Chua: Chinese Schools Get Govt Aid) against the amount that the MoF has given as total expenditure for the Ministry of Education under the 9MP (see MoF’s website). You can verify them for yourself.

      There really hasn’t been a lot of money from the government that has been poured into Chinese schools and it is going to be difficult to force them to adopt a national curriculum because they are private and independent. If they rely on government funding, then we can push through the reforms that we want as these can be imposed as conditions for the acceptance of the funds.

      As a result, the only way left is to increase the attractiveness of national schools such that parents will continue to send their children there. I am a product of our national school system and I am proud of that. I recall with fondness the dedication of the teachers in discharging their duties. I also appreciated the meaning of living in a plural society as I had form great lifelong friendship with people from all communities.

      But things have changed. English had become the lingua franca of world trade, science and technology. You know how the world had changed when the Chinese, Japanese and French started learning English. Regardless of what Malay or Chinese pressure groups claim, the majority of Malaysians want Maths and Science to be taught in English. Tun Dr. M conducted an on-line poll that stated the same.

      Apart from that other problems that these schools face today are a decline in education standards and lack of proper facilities. As a responsible parent, don’t we want to equip our children with the best education and social development environment? That is the reason why I will choose a private English medium school (not because I “hate” my national language but for the reason stated above) over the national schools or Chinese schools. I don’t think that Chinese school curriculum equip our children with holistic skills. While they claim better standards in science and mathematics, they don’t instill creativity, objectivity and plurality- which are skills that are become more and more important in the new economy. The only way to beat a more efficient competitive country is to come up with inventive ways of doing things. This has been proven time and again in business (see Google over Yahoo!, Toyota over GM, Apple vs. Microsoft).

      We need to formulate a competitive pay scheme for teachers based on performance of students and their schools. Pay for this via an increase tax on gambling, cigarettes and booze- whack them for enticing our youths to gamble, smoke and drink! To have great schools, we should have great teachers.

      Finally, emphasize more on holistic education. It’s not just about exams but achievements in other fields as well. Schools should teach social work, arts and sports. Create a free environment for exploration and discovery and not rote learning. Involve parents in the academic development of their child through constant engagements and discussions. Have an independent board of parents, academia, artisans, and sportsperson to design and review curriculum.

      Peace.

      PS. By the way, article 152 is as protected as 153. Parliament did by with an amendment to the Constitution in 1971. Clause 10(4) reads:

      “In imposing restrictions in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or public order under Clause (2)(a), Parliament may pass law prohibiting the questioning of any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III, Article 152, 153 or 181 otherwise than in relation to the implementation thereof as may be specified in such law.”

      • CPL says:

        I totally agree with dogsick that the way to go is to increase the attractiveness of national schools and Tun M was farsighted in his decision to have science and maths taught in english. Politically, there is not a chance that chinese schools be abolished. But then, if you look at it, all secondary schools are in a way following a single system other than the mother tongue like chinese is taken as an additional subject. Sadly, due to politically reasons, science and maths is no longer will be taught in english from 2012.

        Let the primary schools system be maintained with national and national-type schools since this has been in existence for so many decades. I think most of us have no problems except for parents who want science and maths in english at primary schools.

        My children go to national schools and we are proud to be the minority chinese who do not go to chinese schools. I thought finally that our education system is moving ahead with the teaching of science and maths in english. Seems like when we take a step forward, we end up two steps backwards

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