Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Malay Ideals : Excerpts from Chapter 6 : Education

We believe the best way to solve the problem of integration of the ethnic communities perpetuated within the education system is paradoxically, to encourage the different races to enrol into the Vernacular Schools. For instance, the Malay parents ought to be fostered to enrol their children into Chinese schools. It may be ironic but it is a way of making sure that the composition of races in the classroom itself reflect the reality of this multiracial country and by having them in one classroom, it would help them relate to one another and aid in the process of integration and discourage racial bigotry. In line with this vision, a quota system might be introduced and established which requires say at least 30 per cent of the school children in Chinese schools to be Malays and Indians  vice versa with Indian schools. This will seek to further represent more of the ethic make up of the nation under one roof  in classroom setting. This proportion will be increased stage by stage until it reflects the true composition of the people of Malaysia. To encourage and to place a quota system in assuring students of different ethnic backgrounds enrol into the Vernacular Schools would also be fruitful in another aspect  they allow the Malays and others to learn an additional language. Furthermore, Chinese schools are well known for their methodical approach to education and are highly competitive and tax the minds of the young, which in turn would train these youngsters to become more resilient and tough. Teachers here are also said to be more serious in their work especially with subjects such as Mathematics and the Sciences.

It is probable that this idea would not go down well with a lot of parents if it were to made law to enrol their children into Chinese schools. Therefore what is needed is mere government promotion and encouragement. Special inducements and incentives may attract a larger pool of non-Chinese students. The government needs to educate the races of the benefit of attending these schools. When the ethnic Chinese or Indians see that the Malays are interested in enrolling into their schools and learning their languages, they will open up and the Malays would no longer be accused of a people whose only motive is to impose their "Malay-ness" onto others. Prejudice thereby would mitigate. If the move to encourage enrolment into the Vernacular Schools is a success, and if there is a need, more Vernacular Schools could be set up if these schools can no longer manage the escalating number of students.

There is of course the possibility that a great majority of the parents would harbour fear in enrolling their children into Vernacular Schools and would resist the move to do so. To circumvent this problem, the government has to correspondingly and concurrently make it compulsory for all students in all streams of schools to learn a third language. People will begin to see that there is no longer real difference between these schools and the national schools * the only difference would be in the name of the schools and the third language learnt as a subject rather than as the medium of instruction. As a matter of fact it would probably be better to end up in Vernacular Schools during the primary years because students will be exposed to their 'third' language even more and they will be adept to it. This would encourage Malay parents for instance to enrol their children into these schools. Classrooms in the Vernacular Schools would then have a racial mix similar to the National Schools.

When these measures are successful, the subsequent step of total abolishment of Vernacular Schools (by their replacement with the National Schools) in the Malaysian education system would be possible. Nevertheless, its abolishment is crucial if the nation were to create better integration and the moulding of a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race). When this is possible, fully residential schools which are almost exclusively opened to the Bumiputera communities have to be phased out gradually by opening their doors to the other races outside the Bumiputera races. Their ethnic composition are reminiscent of the Vernacular Schools, thus, maintaining their exclusivity and promoting ethnocentrism.

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