If you are one of the many people that support the One School system, you can almost feel that this post is coming up.
For the past few weeks, there have been some positive development regarding this issue. After the sense of acute racial polarisation is about to take place here in Malaysia, the importance of a single stream education system, significantly at the primary level has begun to permeate in the psyche of ordinary Malaysians.
It is a simple and logical explanation and also the most profound solution for the problems on the lack of racial integration we have here in Malaysia.
Many hurdles were met along the way. The most disappointing and no less disparaging remark was the accusation from the opposition that those who support the One School system are racists.
In one hand, those who desire to see a more unified and integrated society are labeled as racists while on the other hand, those who support the chinese and tamil schools had labeled themselves as victims. Nevermind the fact that chinese and tamil schools are in fact, schools that were established based fundamentally and historically on racial grounds. But according to these opposition members, vernacular schools are not racist. The One School system is!
Are we racist in trying to get all our children to be together? I am sure we are not.
The opposition should just discontinue playing rhetorical taunts and decide if they want to support a more pertinent issue such as national unity and integration. Obviously, segregating the society into clusters of people instead of governing one seamless mass of people are much easier to do. Divide and conquer is an ageless tactic which had lent a helping hand to so many conquerors in this world.
And vernacular schools contribute greatly towards the segregation and polarisation of our society. This is undeniably the most telling symptom of our society. It is so undeniable that any effort to deny this can only be delivered through arguments incongruous with reason.
Take the reasons brought forth by DAP Youth Chief, Anthony Loke.
He argued that the proficiency of Bahasa Malaysia among the chinese is mainly due to the government’s failure in giving enough emphasis and assistance to those who were weak in the language.
“I think that probably this is because the learning of the language is not really enhanced in both the primary and secondary levels.
“I am sure that there will be critics blaming the vernacular schools but I disagree… because even there, BM is a compulsory subject and after that, they go to secondary school where BM is even more prominent. There is just no proper programme in place to help these Chinese primary school students to adopt when in the secondary level,” he added.
We have a solution. That programme that Anthony Loke mentioned will be called the One School system.
A study was made by the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) whereby it was revealed that significant number of secondary school dropouts with Chinese primary vernacular education have little, or zero, command of English or the national language. To be precise, it was found that one-third of students from those schools cannot understand either English or Bahasa Malaysia (BM) when they transfer to national secondary schools.
The inability to communicate in the national language stemmed from the limited interaction with other races. If at the early primary stage the children are handicapped by this social impediment, we can be certain that in later stage of life, prejudice and paranoia will arise and will make it difficult to integrate with one another.
This will happen not only among the children from chinese vernacular schools, but also among children from the tamil vernacular schools and the national schools where the malay students are dominant.
A further study albeit a simpler one was done by The Malaysian Insider recently to gauge the command of the national language among the chinese here in Malaysia.
The most profound data that was gathered revealed that about 26% of respondents do not understand Bahasa Malaysia at all. Close to 19% do not have to use Bahasa Malaysia at all or only use it less than three times in their daily lives.
This suggest that within the Chinese community, there is a significant class whose members only interact with those who speak Chinese.
It is just a matter of time when we have a complete segregation of society where the two main race will not interact with one another in a lifetime. Do we really want this?
Anthony Loke must be delusional if he still want to blame the government for not giving assistance for the students in chinese vernacular schools to increase their proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia. But then again it is not vintage DAP if they do not blame the government for everything.
The most cost effective way is for everyone to enrol in national school where Bahasa Malaysia is the main medium of instruction.
It does not make any sense for the government to pour more resources into vernacular schools just to strengthen the usage of Bahasa Malaysia in mandarin medium schools.
For every ringgit given to vernacular schools, a ringgit loss for the national schools.
The trick Anthony Loke is playing is for the government to give more money to vernacular schools so that his politics will continue to survive. His racist tactic has always been the bread and butter for his political party.
Too bad the government would always fall for this trick. What the opposition do not want gullible Malaysians to know is that every year, the government is already spending more than RM1.8 billion to pay the salaries of teachers in the chinese and tamil vernacular schools.
That is RM1.8 billion wasted just to produce more polarisation in this country. Not to mention the millions already spent on infrastructures and on by election ‘gifts’.
Another ridiculous statement was issued by the DAP deputy secretary-general, Ngeh Koo Ham when he opined that ‘national integration had nothing to do with a person’s inability to converse in the language and explained that it was likely that many people saw it more beneficial to master English or Mandarin than BM.
Ngeh noted the civil service was taken up by at least 80 per cent of Malays, causing the non-Malays to focus their attentions on obtaining jobs that do not require extensive knowledge of BM.
“We master a language for the betterment of our future, like finding a good job, a good career and so on. So since many non-Malays do not opt for posts in the civil service where BM proficiency is required, their focus on learning the language is almost negligible,” he said.’
Bahasa Malaysia is the national language of Malaysia. The importance and the sanctity of this language is greatly determined by the way it is treated in the national education. If in a school where 90% of the time Bahasa Malaysia was not spoken then naturally, the students will not or cannot see the importance of it. This is a given.
If the students do not lay importance to it, coupled with the fact that there are minimal or zero interaction with students of other races, then almost certainly they will not master the national language. If you are unable to master the national language, you cannot join the civil service.
Therefore Ngeh Koo Ham made a malicious assumption where he asserted that because the civil service has 80% Malays, the non-Malays will not join it due to the fact that proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia is required.
Logically, the argument should be the other way around – due to the inability to converse well in Bahasa Malaysia, the non Malays failed the tests to enter the civil service leading to the burgeoning of Malays in the civil service.
This can again be traced to the existence of vernacular schools. The opposition especially the DAP frequently lamented about the unfair policies of the government and tried to colour their arguments with racial undertones when we can observe that the very core of their existence if to perpetuate their own racist politics. Working within the sphere of racism (whether playing the victim or in any other multiple levels of racial rhetorics) is the simplest and quickest way to gain prominence in national politics.
The DAP national vice-chairman Chong Chieng Jen joined this absurdity by strongly disagreeing to the fact that national unity are affected by the Chinese community’s lack of proficiency in BM.
‘He pointed out that 30 years back, racial polarisation and segregation were less rampant than it is today despite the widespread lack of understanding of the BM language among the community.
“Less people understood BM then but there was less segregation. People mingled better than they do today. “So at the end of the day, national unity and integration is more about fairer policies…. Barisan Nasional politicians should stop playing racial politics,” he said.’
I am not sure from which abyss he excavated this kind of logic. If there were less segregation and polarisation 30 years ago and yet the people back then understood Bahasa Malaysia even less than today, how on earth did we communicate with each other 30 years ago? Through sign languages?!
We had better national education system back then. There were less people that went to vernacular schools back then. That was why the society were less segregated. But in recent decades, the emergence of extremism in politics of both divide had destroyed our education system. The only way to go now is through a comprehensive and well coordinated effort to standardise the education system. We should start at primary level as the first phase.
The government recently announced that they are looking into the One School system to promote unity and harmony. It is high time that we should look into this.
Summarily, it was proposed that:
1) The first phase will be a co-ordinated exchange of programmes between vernacular and national schools
2) The second phase will be the introduction of a third language in both schools.
3) The third phase will be co-locating of schools and,
4) The final phase is the implementation of the 1School system.
Frankly, do we want our children to be segregated like this:
chinese vernacular school
tamil vernacular school
national school (mainly malays)
Or do we want to see like this:
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