Thought you all might be interested to read this fascinating piece--that I also happen to agree with--written by a good pal of mine.
CHINESE SCHOOLS AND NATIONAL INTERGRATION
I'm trying to get my head around Chinese school education and building a cohesive Malaysian society. I am a national schooler and whenever I try to discuss with my friend who is from a Chinese ed school, we would surely hit a brick wall.
Even though she is my close friend, I cannot stand it when she says that Chinese schools are superior and Chinese kids have a right to study their language, culture etc. Yes, but you are also a Malaysian, not a China Chinese. Yes, you have your ethnic rights, but how can you justify having kids just growing up and mixing just with their own ethnic kind in a multicultural country?
When I was growing up, I think some 30% of Malaysian Chinese parents send their kids to Chinese schools. Now, did I read from somewhere it is 90%? Shocking! It's a real recipe for disaster in building a young multicultural nation. I blame the government and Chinese chauvinist for allowing that to happen. The government has really failed in nationalizing schools and making them a preferred place for education from all ethnicities.
How could it have happened?
I believe the situation is as it is now because of racial politics played by the BN all these years. In order for the BN to govern without problems, each racist party is supposed to take care of their own race, so they are left to their own devices to feed into race chauvinistic sentiments. One of the outcomes - instead of developing national schools to fit the needs of Malaysians, it has allowed communal schools to thrive and develop.
But listen to the parents. Parents who send their kids to Chinese schools complain that national schools are becoming so Islamic. And the quality of education has gone down. They also want their kids to learn Mandarin, not just because of Chinese chauvinism, but I believe it is because China is coming up as a superpower, and they think it is practical to have your kids know the language to compete in the global world.
WHAT TO DO?
I do not agree that ethnic based schools – Chinese, Tamils, or Islamic schools – should be banned. Each ethnic groups do have a right to set up schools and make sure that their kids learn their mother tongue or religion, but the government should make it more ATTRACTIVE for parents of ALL ethnicities to send their kids to national schools. Don't use the stick, because, yes, it is their rights, but use the CARROT method.
1) Stop making national schools more Islamic. National schools are for all Malaysians to get an education and mix freely with students of all background. Stop playing on racial and religious sentiments.
2) Improve the standard of education. Pay teachers more money so it is attractive to good, capable people. Take lessons from other countries that have good teachers and good systems. Allow more openness and play to education. Respect kids point of views, allow that flourishing of young minds to think and create.
3) If Mandarin is a priority, then make Mandarin important. We're talking about practicalities, not chauvinism. Even non-Chinese realize this, and many Malays are actually sending their kids to Chinese schools so they can be fluent in Mandarin. English is important, it's a global lingua franca and we recognize that. But China is really becoming important, maybe we should have a Mandarin subject in its own right. Not just 2 hours a week. Offer it as a choice but with more seriousness. Goes the same for Tamil and Kadazan, Iban language. It's not impossible for a student to learn BM and other languages, in fact it is good for us.
I don't think those are difficult things to do. Why can't we do it as a nation? We have not been doing that because instead of thinking of ourselves as Malaysians, we think only of our own ethnic survival. And that, I believe is fed by the racist, racialist government that has continued the same divide and rule method.
BTW, this is a good site for discussion based on one parent's dilemma of whether to send her/his Xin Yin to SK(J) Cina or national school.
EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA
and Tony Pua is also thinking of his 3 year old