The admin at the One School System website were gracious enough to host an article of mine over there. Please have a read at it here. Thank you.
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:
Or do we want to see like this:
Support Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua. Thank you everyone.
HAPPY WESAK DAY TO ALL MALAYSIAN BUDDHISTS!
First and foremost, I would like to thank YOU for all the kind compliments and words of wisdom I received in the previous article.
Obviously I am very appreciative towards any feedback be it positive of negative. But the sincerity I read within the lines gave me a lot of courage to continue doing what I have done for the past 3 years.
Therefore, again, for the millionth time, Thank you.
This time, I would like to add something about the recent announcement of our government leaders and a recent announcement by EF EPI, an international organsation that had recently measured the English proficiency ranking of non native speaking countries.
Back in 2009, the Government had made their decision to reverse PPSMI and gradually abolish it. Starting from 2012, the subjects on Mathematics and Science in all schools will revert to Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and Tamil in respective schools. By the year 2017 in primary and 2016 in secondary, all children in both primary and secondary will learn all the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, with the exception of the English subject of course.
And, with the exception of children in vernacular schools too.
All children in national schools will learn mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia again, while all children in mandarin and tamil schools will learn those subjects in their respective mother tongues.
That is the outcome of the opposition’s relentless pursuit to oppose anything just for the sake of opposing. I mentioned the opposition because Pakatan Rakyat leaders were involved in the various platforms conducted by the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) which incidentally headed by A. Samad Said, an iconic ‘pejuang bahasa kebangsaan’.
Much is left to be desired when this so called pejuang bahasa kebangsaan stopped short in asking the vernacular schools to switch its medium of teaching language to Bahasa Malaysia. Hence I find it really hypocritical of him when he assumed that GMP will bring dignity to Bahasa Malaysia among Malaysians.
In fact, his foray in politicising the national language will further alienate the races between each other.
I believe the PPSMI would be one of the factor that would attract Malaysia parents to send their children to the national schools. The other main factor is the lessening of Islamic /Arabic influence in the daily routine of activities of the school. But that is another matter altogether.
At that time, if GMP and the Minister in Education said that Bahasa Malaysia has finally and correctly ‘dimartabatkan’, then so be it.
The aftermath of the decision has led to various lobby groups being set up to lobby for the return of PPSMI. The most prominent is called Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE).
The stark contrast between GMP and PAGE is the absence of street demonstrations. We all remember the pretentious street demonstrations organised by GMP and led by several opposition leaders back in early 2009. It was pretentious because Bahasa Malaysia now became the domain of the Malays; not the rest of Malaysians.
Only the Malays should dignify the national language. The non-Malays can continue strengthen their own mother tongue. Only the Malays are chastised if they use English as their main language to converse. Non-Malays can use English with impunity.
Nevermind the fact that Bahasa Malaysia should be used by all Malaysians. GMP forgot to support the one stream education system which suggested the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of learning in most of the subjects.
GMP, if they were serious, should make Bahasa Malaysia the mother tongue of all Malaysians.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to chastise Malays who wanted to learn mathematics and science in English when Bahasa Malaysia is already their mother tongue. Being the mother tongue of approximately 17 million of the population is already a dignified accomplishment of Malaysia. What they should have pursued is the usage of Bahasa Malaysia as the mother tongue of 100% of the population.
Hence the one stream education system is the way to go. But GMP seemed more interested in looking at narrower view i.e., looking only at the Malays and not the overall populace.
That is why they are labeled as pretentious and not serious enough in their battles for Bahasa Malaysia’s survival.
Fortunately and finally, PAGE’s objectives had been heard by the Government. Last week, the Minister of Education, announced the possibility of a dual medium of instruction in schools.
Although the details are sketchy, I believe the MOE will give schools the power to decide which language to teach mathematics and science. The Parent-Teacher Associations of each school will undoubtedly be given the voting power to decide on this matter.
But what is unclear is whether this will cover vernacular schools as well. Those powerful vernacular cartels such as Dong Jiao Zong will almost certainly and vehemently defend their racial turf.
We all know a lost cause when we see one. The only way for them to see beyond racial lenses is to have a strong national leader that can make them see the benefits of having one stream national education system.
All things considered, I think this is the best time to propagate PPSMI. In 2009, the MOE made a good decision to limit the number of subjects in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to 10 subjects.
With smaller number of subjects for the students to study, all the excess energy that was used to gain 15As, 18As and even 20As in the previous years can be channeled into learning mathematics and science in English. Also, extra co curricular activities will automatically be emphasised more by the students as they would certainly want to make their curriculum vitae more marketable than their peers.
Being in sports, clubs, societies and uniformed groups will enhance their social skills and leadership qualities.
Those are a couple of great assets for an aspiring student to venture into the realm of tertiary education and beyond.
The recent survey made by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) listed the ability of good written and spoken English as the main criteria to employ new employees. Out of ten traits, 68% of employers listed that as the most sought after attribute of a prospective employees.
Good academic results came out 7th at 37.9% while 56.2% of employers valued interpersonal skills as the 3rd most sought after trait.
Bottomline, your paper results will not be nearly as important as your social interactivity skills. And the ability to write a nice business letter and to speak English with confidence top everything else.
You will be a star employee if you can master scientific or business terminologies with ease.
Anyhow, we hope the Ministry of Education will not forget to improve the overall standard of education in our national schools and continue to produce more positive news and good results in order to promote the national education to the masses.
It is enlightening to read about the news that among the non native English speaking country in this world, Malaysia is ranked at 9th position and the 1st among Asian countries with population that has high proficiency in English.
It is ironic to note that Singapore which has Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and Tamil as their official languages is not considered non native English speaking country anymore. In other words, Singapore is now considered an anglophile state according to international standards.
They do speak good Singaporean English.
But Malaysia, that had laid so much importance towards her national language, can strive to be among the best English speaking country in the world, speaks a lot about our education system.
We want to be global. Yet, we retain our identity as Malaysian.
Orang Malaysia bukan sahaja mesti pandai berbahasa Malaysia tapi mesti pandai berbahasa Inggeris juga. Baru boleh duduk sama rendah, berdiri sama tinggi. Boleh mengharung globalisasi tapi tak hilang jati diri.
Terima kasih. Thank you.
History subject is one of the most vital medium in schools to turn our children into becoming Malaysians. During my schooling years, History was taught to children as young as 7 years old. These days, I learnt that history lessons are only learned by secondary children and even then, it is an elective subject.
Who came up with the idea that History is not an important subject to be learned by young children? After a few years, we now have young adults who do not even know the history of their own country.
Ask them what is the name of the 1st Agong of this country? How did Raja James Brooke become the King of Sarawak? How did Francis Light take over Pulau Pinang from Kedah? Who was the first Deputy Prime Minister? And who designed our Malaysian flag? Most will not even score 2 out of 5.
When I first learned that History were to make a compulsory pass subject in SPM, I think this is a very good move. What is more important is to make this subject a must learned subject from the primary stages. The recent announcement from the Ministry of Education was a welcome relief.
Back in primary school, I learned Bahasa Malaysia, English, Agama Islam, Geography, History, Science, Mathematics, Health, Civics, Arts and Music. Students from other faiths took Moral Education instead of Islamic Studies.
In the afternoon about twice a week, I had to go to ‘kelas mengaji’ to study and recite the Quran and learn the Jawi.
In the Penilaian Darjah Lima, we took 5 subjects in the exams – Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics, Science and a paper that combines Geography and History.
We must get 5As in order to enter a good secondary school. It was simple. It was not complicated. It was workable.
But when KBSR and KBSM came about in the late 80’s, the education ministry changed the whole dynamics of the system and began to shift the focus of education to be more results oriented than to focus on the learning experience itself.
Students began chasing results. Parents began to be more competitive in order to bring the best out of their children. Students with 12As, 15As and even 20As began to appear. Teachers became lethargic. Students with good results couldn’t handle the more demanding, independent world of tertiary education because during their primary and secondary years, they were not focused in human interaction much due to the fact that their entire lives till then were spent in front of books and computers. Coupled with the flip flopping education policies in the recent years, the whole education system is down-spiraling out of control.
Going against the tide of the ministry of education is the noisy opposition movements that are motivated by ulterior motives.
PPSMI was reversed after the ministry of education bent over backwards to pacify the Anti PPSMI Movement or GAP (Gerakan Anti PPSMI) for short. Nevermind the fact that PPSMI was only introduced 6 years earlier.
Even before that, the Education Act 1996 was adopted to sanctify the existence of vernacular schools after the then minister of education succumbed to political pressure from racial pressure groups. Nevermind that the very existence of the Education Act 1996 runs contrary to a couple of acts in the Constitution.
It is amazing that everytime there is a change of minister in the education ministry, our education policies would change as well.
All the policy changes regardless whether it is a reversal of previous policies or mere improvements from the current ones will have severe affect on to the students. It is worse if these changes are not substantiated with indepth studies by the relevant ministry.
The last time we had a comprehensive, 360 degrees study of our education policy was in the 60s through the Penyata Razak.
It is high time we have a similar study after nearly half a century had lapsed. Anybody from the cabinet dared to suggest this? Or is everyone up there is just looking after their own interests (instead of the nation’s)?
Anyway, I digress.
The History subject must be made compulsory from the early stages of education. Those who have seen the Tv Show – ‘Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader’ would immediately realise that kids in America as young as 6 years old are taught about the history of their country with such zest and pride.
But what kind of history are we suppose to teach our children?
History as a subject has two pronged objectives. One, to instil patriotism into the heart of every citizen from their childhood stage. Two, as source of knowledge on their surroundings and how they perceive their world.
In America, History was a touchy subject for the people especially with the advent of multiculturism among its people. With the influx of foreigners and the calls for equality among the afro-american movement, history as a subject was a sensitive issue indeed.
For example, how do you reconcile the fact that George Washington, the founding father of United States of America, has many black slaves and treated them harshly?
How can one see Abraham Lincoln as one of the greatest President the United States had ever had but at the same time he ‘supported projects to remove blacks from the United States’ and said that ‘blacks could not be assimilated into white society and rejected the notion of social equality of the races’?
Multi-culturism pose a big threat to the learning of a country’s history because history in the eyes of each community living in a particular country is different from one another.
Was the Great Settlement of the Mid West by the white colonials in America a great human achievement for the whites? Or was it a mass extermination of the native Red Indians and their way of life by the europeans?
All this needs to be addressed by the policy makers of the United States of America. Their solution?
Assimilation of their citizens through schools.
Schools became the pillars of nation building.
With thousands of ethnicities coming in to America on daily basis, schools are the places where they transform immigrants into Americans.
The need to transform each and every people living in the USA as a person that live and breathe as an American came about 200 years ago when it’s 6th President, John Quincy Adams wrote that immigrants ‘must cast off their European skin, never to resume it’.
An American education reformer, Horace Mann stated that ‘a foreign people cannot be transformed into the full stature of American citizens merely by a voyage across the Atlantic’.
Very poignant and astute observation indeed.
Hence, the education system must be streamlined in order for the students to see themselves as Americans so that history is viewed without any racial stereotyping attached to it.
So what if George Washington owned slaves? So what if Abraham Lincoln was racist?
Each and every American out there reveres them both as the founding father and a great leader based on their achievements alone and what good they had brought to the Americans even centuries after they had passed away.
In other aspects, the native Americans in the USA are very patriotic regardless what happened to their people in the past.
Back in Malaysia, we hear so many negative opposition from the people who are against the subject of history made compulsory in schools. This is precisely because their views came from the racial angle.
All the prejudice, the stereotyping, the paranoia are the by-products of segregated education they experienced in their early childhood. At the very least, their views were contaminated by the very people that champion the need to segregate our children.
In the end, history is being promoted by these clustered group of people as evil and should not be taught to our children. We see so many unsavoury characters in the cyberspace trying hard to re-write history based on fiction and malicious motives.
We know that this country has a history that spanned thousands of years. We learned that this land was populated by people more than 2 thousand years ago. There were, in existence, great kingdoms and dynasties.
I learned a great deal about Langkasuka, Gangga Nagara and Patani in my primary schools. Everyone then knew about the establishment of Melaka Sultanate as well. We learned about the centuries of struggle for independence from foreign conquerors ever since Sultan Mahmud was defeated by Alfonso D’Albuquerque.
Names like Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah, Raja Haji, Datuk Maharajalela, Datuk Bahaman, Tok Janggut, Mat Kilau, Datuk Dol Naning were remembered in history alongside Mustapha Hussain, Datuk Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V.T. Sambathan.
The pillars of the nation are addressed in the History lessons by teachers to our children on weekly basis. They learn Negaraku, the national symbols and the basic history of our country. This is the seed of patriotism that is sown in the hearts of every Malaysian.
It amazes me how some people find this irrelevant and that history must not be a compulsory subject to be learned.
The problem with this simple issue is that we are a segregated society. The existence of vernacular schools made it impossible to even discuss this very beneficial thing in a positive manner.
Suddenly, there are quarters that said that immigrants coming to this land in the 19th and early 20th centuries must be given due recognition in the history textbooks. This is actually a political problem.
Several decades before this, when history is learned as a subject in schools, we learned about the immigrants coming in to our country and started a new life here. Nobody ever protested about this bit of information. Apart from this being the true historical fact, it has also recognised the fact that Malaysia now, is made up of many cultures plainly due to economic problems and the migration of the immigrats here was how the colonial masters solved those problems.
This is nothing new and so, the demands of the these quarters are at best, redundant.
And yes, the immigrants had made the country livelier and what we are today is partly due to their existence. But we must also remember, this country is far older than 1957. History of this country does not start in 1957. Due recognition must also be given to those who had lived in before that. In fact, if not for the achievements of the great civilisations especially the Melaka sultanate, we might be left in obscurity.
The quote – “He who is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice” will not exist. Other civilisations would have not looked our way.
Therefore, the current contention on the issue of history in schools are merely political tools to further the agenda for power using racist means. It stemmed from being schooled in vernacular education; where the feeling of being sieged and lack of inter-racial mingling had urged them to play the one-upmanship game.
In any case, like how the Americans are accepting their history, Malaysians must accept their country’s history from the eyes of Orang Malaysia.
The need for racial posturing when it comes to history must be stopped. Only desperate politicians would look through the racial lense and try to skew history to further their agenda for power. People must not look at history as if it is a disease that must be eradicated. A person would not want to learn history only if he has a terrible past that needs to be hidden.
Academician never think twice when analysing history. They see it as it is. They do not wear the racial ‘hat’ whenever the subject of history is raised.
It is suggested that history must be inclusive, honest and without malice. But what is more important, history must be taught in classrooms of a single stream education system to eradicate any deviation from its set objectives.
Only then this subject will not be maligned by unscrupulous, characters populating our political platforms. If one follows the slogan 1Malaysia carefully, there is no need for vernacular schools at all.
The newly set up Education Advisory Council must look into this matter diligently. I hope it has a strong mandate to steer this subject into the correct path and once and for all, Malaysia will produce Orang Malaysia who are patriotic enough not to disgrace his/her own country.
Because, at the end of the day, regardless whether you are the 4th generation chinese whose great grandfather came to Malaya in a junk, or your ancestors were from South India, or some of your ancestors came from Siam, Sulu or Acheh, everyone now is Orang Malaysia.
You must have the characteristics of an Orang Malaysia, not the characteristics of the people from your ancestral land. To be otherwise only proves that some of us have not integrated well with the rest and are not inclusive in nature.