Is it any wonder that international vernacular schools are popular?

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I am glad that the Minister of Education and his deputy reacted quickly to the news about a national school in Batu Pahat, Johor, separating sports activities based on the race of its students.

And yesterday, Johor Tunku’s Crown Prince Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, expressing his dissatisfaction with the school’s decision, said it should never happen again in the state.

FMT reported that SMK Dato ‘Bentara Luar issued a note to students saying that football and sepak takraw clubs were open to “Malaysian men only”, while the basketball club was open to “men and women. Chinese ”, hockey was only open to living students. in the dorms, when only Malaysian girls could join the netball club.

Sports such as handball, bowling, petanque and badminton were however open to everyone.

Most Malaysians would agree with Tunku Ismail and Education Minister Radzi Jidin that sport is effective in promoting and strengthening unity and a sense of oneness.

“Have we forgotten the greatness of the national football team that qualified for the 1972 and 1980 Olympics and the national hockey team that finished fourth at the 1975 World Cup? Didn’t we applaud when the national badminton team won the 1992 Thomas Cup? Radzi asked on Saturday.

“Let our children play together regardless of their race,” Radzi said, adding that the school’s action was not in line with the implementation of sports programs by the Ministry of Education.

Deputy Education Minister Mah Hang Soon had ordered the cancellation of the rule of racial segregation earlier on Saturday, saying it contradicted the national education plan.

Racial segregation of sports activities is an absurd decision, however you think of it. Sport is one of the few bright areas in the country that creates a feeling of friendliness, Malaysia. In most other areas of our national life, we are tragically divided by race and religion.

Will serious action be taken against the school administration for acting against the interests of the nation? Based on previous cases, you know the answer as well as I do, especially now that the headteacher has apologized. It will likely be another case of the famous NFA – no further action.

We do not know if there are other schools with similar policies or rules that act against the welfare of the nation.

And education authorities and government leaders wonder why vernacular schools and international schools are increasingly popular.

The above policy in the Johor school is the latest in a list of problems in national schools that alienates students, especially non-Malaysian students.

Too many people have noted that the character of national schools has changed to the extent that they are no longer national schools in practice. Some parents complain about turning into Islamic schools.

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who previously served as Minister of Education, has commented on this on several occasions. For example, at the annual dinner of his alma mater Sultan Abdul Hamid College on December 21, 2018, he said, “Someone has changed the school curriculum and now the national schools have become religious schools.”

More recently, on February 11 to be exact, he said there was too much emphasis placed on Islam in schools at the expense of the kind of education needed in an increasingly demanding world.

“It’s almost like every student is going to be an ulama,” he said. “They increase the number of hours, the number of periods, to teach Islam beyond what an ordinary Muslim needs. As a result, children do not learn other skills, especially science and math, which are now very important for a living. “

Where does that leave the non-Malaysian and non-Muslim student?

On top of that, children learn a story that is distorted or altered to make one race appear superior while diminishing the contributions of other races.

Historian Ranjit Singh Malhi said last week that the textbooks used in Forms 1-5 are Malaysian and Islam-centric. In addition, they not only omitted essential nation-building facts, but also included factual distortions and exaggerations.

He said that because almost all history textbook writers are Malaysian, students learn about the history of the world and Malaysia from the perspective of a particular ethnic group.

“The glaring flaws of current history textbooks only confirm the bias of the writers. They do not provide an adequate, balanced and fair account of the emergence and growth of Malaysian plural society, ”said the assistant professor at the Asia-Pacific University of Technology and Innovation.

“Our young people are not learning the real and inclusive history of our nation, but a deliberately chosen historical narrative, biased towards establishing Islamic and Malay rule based on the concept of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ division.

“For example, unlike previous textbooks, current history textbooks downplay the important roles and contributions of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian communities in the nation’s economic and infrastructure development,” he accused.

He noted that the role of the Indians in the growth of the rubber industry and the Chinese in the development of the tin mining industry had been relegated to two or three sentences in the Form 3 history textbook.

Also, he said, the textbooks did not show the impact of the Hindu-Buddhist civilization on the culture, language, literature and even the Malaysian government.

Is it any wonder then that a growing number of non-Malaysian parents, disillusioned with the education system, send their children to vernacular or international schools if they can afford it?

Even Malaysian parents send their children to international, Chinese and Tamil schools.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT



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