The posting of my statement yesterday on vernacular schools has attracted many comments and insightful discussion. I would urge those who miss reading that post to read the comments , looking at the topic from different angles, from the Non-Malay Malaysian Viewpoints , Malay Malaysian viewpoints, to Malaysian Malaysian viewpoints.
I would like to highlight one of the comments, by a reader called JC. His views should be read and re read since he points out the gist of the matters, why parents opt for one stream and not the others.
This is JC’s comment:
I think it all boils down to the quality of those schools. I think it does not matter if its a vernacular school or national school, if its a sh** school(pardon my french) even if its vernacular, you will find that sooner or later the school will die a natural death. Mukhriz should concentrate on the quality of those school instead of again using the education as a springboard for his ambitions. This is so disgusting, look at the state of our government schools right now.. i should know, i have a sister who just finished form 5. By the way I am chinese who goes to a christian brothers school. In those days these are really good schools, with people fighting to get themselves enroll in them plus every year you would hear so and so getting themselves admitted into the oxbrige unis in the UK. In my opinion its the excellence of the schools which we should concentrate on. Just my 2 cents
I think JC has hit the nail on its head.
Just like in a free market, it is good to have different streams for competition.
Competition will result in excellence.
Look at the sixties and early seventies, we had English stream, vernacular streams, national school stream. Many parents sent their children to English streams, because students from such schools were deemed to be better equipped for tertiary education as well as employment. In Penang, Penang Free School and st Xaviers were very popular.
Chinese school students, because of their handicapped in English, faced problems when studying overseas, and many opted to go Taiwan. But still many sent their children to Chinese schools, partly because of strong cultural sentiments then, and partly because students, despite the not so good standard of English, had good knowledge of Mathematics , science and commerce, and had no problems getting employment in the business sector.
Certain Chinese schools, like my alma mater Chung Ling High School of Penang, had a high standard of English. Its students sat for the Cambridge School Certificate Exam, equivalent to O level, and many of them obtained 8 As (maximum no of As then) including yours truly .Its students had no problems competing and studying overseas. As a result, entrance into Chung Ling was very competitive.
In those days, because of the competition, the general standard among all the streams were much higher compared to today. Even National Schools’ graduates commanded much better knowledge than their counterparts today. Theirs Bs or even Cs, perhaps, were better than the As now.
We should also ask ourselves why nowadays, there are tens of thousands of Non-Chinese Malaysians studying in Chinese vernacular schools. I think it boils down to excellence again.
It is true that excellence creates demand. And this excellence can only comes from fair competition and true meritocracy.
So the presence of more streams would logically promote better competition, and what the national schools need to do is to discard many of the ‘tidak apa’ attitude of the teachers, and work hard to turn them into schools of excellence , in order to attract students from all races to enter such schools.
The question Mukhriz raised is, however, whether closing vernacular schools will bring unity.
Frankly, I do not think so. You can have one stream , and that one stream, because of lack of competition, will result in more mediocre students being produced which in turn will lead to next generations of more mediocre teachers. It will become a spiral, leading the country into a path of mediocrity.
Polarisation can only be done with when there is a perceived equal treatment of all people.
No amount of national service camps, or putting students in same college rooms are going to reverse this trend without doing away with the perceived unequal treatment of the people.
To go one step deeper, why is the National schools not as good as the Chinese vernacular schools? It is part of the syndrome of mediocrity affecting the whole civil service because of over protection.
As a parent, we know that if a child is over protected and not allowed to grow up in a competitive environment, the child would become a ‘softy’, not able to withstand pressure and stress. This has been mentioned in one of my earlier posts on “the curse of the third generation”.
So in order to bring back excellence to the whole service as well as our national schools, we should bring back meritocracy and certain amount of competition. This will, in the long run, prepare our people, all ethnic groups included, for stiff competition from the outside world.
The alternative is, of course, our competitive level may drop to as low as our football team, currently ?160 in the world.