Sunday, November 1, 2009

Single-school system a good idea but are there enough guarantees?

Tongues are set to wag again over the latest call for a single-school system with UMNO hardliners accusing vernacular schools as breeding grounds for racism. In all honesty, a single-school system is not a bad idea but are there enough guarantees to ensure it remains truly 'Malaysian'?

I personally believe that a single-school system is the right track to long term nation building. However, I disagree with UMNO to say, the least, that vernacular schools are breeding grounds for racism. UMNO hardliners can just be as racist too but didn't most of their leaders study abroad? Is it then fair to say that foreign education is the cause for their race-based segregationist views? Therefore, it is unreasonable to label vernacular schools as the root for the deteriorating racial relations in this country. How about looking at certain discriminative government policies for a start, UMNO?

Speaking of a single-school system, I believe there is no place more suitable than a truly Malaysian school that is able to provide a conducive environment for students to interact with Malaysians of other ethnic groups. Vernacular schools are usually dominated by a single race and it would prove a challenge for students to learn what it means to be Malaysian if they are placed in a mono-cultural setting. Therefore, it is imperative that the values of a tolerance and mutual respect for other ethnic groups be cultivated among Malaysians at a tender age.

So, are there solid guarantees that a single-school system will not turn into a breeding ground for racial discrimination instead? The Malaysian education system is already infamous for racial quotas and ethnic-based scholarships and it is a known fact that meritocracy mean very little here. In fact, under a single-school system, the chances of discrimination exists even greater than in vernacular schools. Can the government guarantee that students of all ethnic backgrounds be treated equally? I doubt so. To run a truly Malaysian school system and then racial quotas in university placements, for example, at the same time is double standard. What more can we expect then in a single-school system? Forgive my pessimism.

Secondly, is the government ready to acknowledge the importance of other ethnic mother tongues like Mandarin, Tamil, Iban and etc. ? No doubt that the Malay language is the national language but the government must also be humble enough to admit that the other main ethnic languages are just as important. Malaysia is a multi cultural nation and diversity is what we boast about to the world. So I urge we walk our talk. Vernacular school advocates fear that these ethnic languages will be neglected under a single-school system. Therefore, is the government willing to commit the same amount of resources to promote these ethnic languages alongside the Malay language?

Are there also enough guarantees to ensure that a single-school system will remain truly secular? Sad to say and with all due respect to Islam, we have seen how religion has slowly infused itself into education (religious school not included). Considering the multi-cultural aspect of our society, I expect a single-school system to remain secular and free from religious bigotry. How many times have we seen values of a certain religion being imposed on others who do not follow that religion? Just too many times.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1Malaysia brand, though highly commercialized these days, promotes racial unity and racial acceptance. If that call is a call for us to accept diversity, then a single-school system should also appear likewise. A truly Malaysian school system should promote cultural acceptance among students of various backgrounds. In the past, MPs like Ibrahim Ali of Pasir Mas claim that in order for nation building to succeed, immigrants a.k.a non-Malays must adopt the local Malay culture. Can Najib's administration prevent that such ridiculous views from creeping into the system and also promise that students are ultimately taught to embrace and celebrate our differences?

The single-school system is one way we can all help to build a better, united society - beginning with our children. Political willpower and these government 'guarantees' are all it takes for the idea to succeed. But of course, only the Malaysian people can bring the whole vision of Bangsa Malaysia into fruition.


  1. ngyangmin said...

    Actually rite i support the single school system.

    But, i would hope that if the single school system is introduced, all the racial quotas will go away. At least a step-by-step approach is planned. Eg abolish business quotas first, then uni quota, etc etc.

    We can introduce 3rd language sessions as well - then Malays will get the opportunity to learn Tamil/Madarin, etc. So everybody in Msia will know 3 languages.

    But seems like a lot of people from all 3 races are opposed to the idea of having a single school system. So, too bad la.

    But i have to say i do believe that vernacular schools are breeding grounds for racism - vernacular schools make us stick to our own racial group and have very little chance to interact with other groups.

  2. vasantarao appalasamy said...

    All races combined in National schools striving towards one direction and vision. Schools students won’t think about the difference of race when they still in the primary school when they mix together in one surrounding as BANGSA MALAYSIA.

    So the style will continue to secondary schools, Universities and so in their life. Now what’s happening in school?

    The majority of the students from vernacular schools continue their relation only with their friends that they have from primary schools. And even the new buddy they approach also among same race. Similar things happen in universities and even in working environments.

    Some Tamil and Mandarin pundits worrying that growth of the languages under risk if vernacular schools removed, I believe with the one National schools system, Tamil and Mandarin will grow much more promisingly. As we know there are moral classes for non-Muslim students during religious class for Malays. The moral should be replaced with Tamil and Mandarin language subjects.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Not all of three races oppose the single school system, its the Chinese that is the stumbling block. Even Indian mostly have no problem with it, but the Chinese is different because their community is rich. Even without government support they can support their school. Just few days ago, the Carlsberg give to Chinese school a total of 1.5 millions as donation. Can any community in M'sia do it? impossible, with that, the Chinese in M'sia not in the need to integrate with other community in M'sia, they just prefer to be among them self, have better connection with their brethren in Taiwan, or any of Chinese in SEA. Sad, but that the fact.

  4. O C said...

    Err... y'know, instead of just trying to change the school system, why don't we just do something more meaningful like.... maybe introducing racial educative movies like Remember The Titans? Lets face it. A lot of people are stubborn. But when they see movies or read books, it just sorta makes them realize somehow, better than any form of explanation we can give. But if the government can't do this, then... cincailah, we can do it on small scale, inviting people over to watch and critic and the movie for an informative sharing and all. Maybe it's just about time we stop being so reliant about the government. I mean, yeah, they're on top of us, but they don't control us neither D: What's the use of liberty if we can't make good use of it anyways? ^^

  5. bobby said...

    "The single-school system is one way we can all help to build a better, united society - beginning with our children"

    I strongly agreed the truthfulness of this statement. Regardless on what school can do to educate the young generation, I felt that, young generations mind are already poisoned by the elder generations. It is always should start from home. Without un-racist parents to educate their child, there is no way the child will become a true Malaysian.

    Religious are all imperfect, that is because human is imperfect. But those little imperfection that makes the world more beautiful.

  6. Anonymous said...

    Referring to Anonymous.
    I would oppose your narrow unintelligent minded view on this issue.

    How can you justified that only the Chinese is the stumbling block? Please justified it with proper evidence or thrown out your incomplete view without any proper justification.

    Ask yourself is the Malays, the so-called ruler of the land, provide an equal ground to play with? With the government and rotting constitution backing you Malays. Its highly doubt so.

    With New Economic Policy, unequal scholarship quotas, discriminating privileges. etc. How can you truly said vernacular schools are the breeding ground for racism. It should referring back to the political party and Malay's lust for power, money and privileges among all other other race.

    Referring to your general statement that Chinese are rich. With local universities are sets for majority Malays. Chinese are usually forced to continue their further studies on private colleges or work after SPM. Its usual for Chinese to felt discriminated as the government are one-sided. The government fear with opening of the door to local Uni based on merit will non-other brought the majority race to its knees as ethic minorities striving for a much larger extend from quotas and competition.

    So my point is, if the Malays are keeping resources for themselves, why not the ethic minorities? Its a basic survival instinct against such oppression. Previous 13 May incident and the recent PM Najib wished to restrict the privileges of the Malays receive opposition even in UMNO justified Malays greed and lust for total oppression and control.

    P.S. Anonymous, I don't know who are you but I would like you you read more and study on your homework before present yourself.