In a historic roundtable conference, BN and Pakatan leaders joined hands to chart the future of Tamil schools.
Held in Parliament today, the conference was organised by DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran.
He said discussions were held to set up a steering committee to chart a blueprint for the future of Tamil schools in the country.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, who chaired the conference, promised that the government would not close down or demolish Tamil schools in the future.
“What the Indian community should to do now is engage with all political parties no matter BN or Pakatan, become a united group to raise Tamil school issues,” he said.
Present at the conference were Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department SK Devamany, Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Deputy Minister M Saravanan, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang and Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy.
Others who attended the conference were MPs M Manoharan (DAP-Teluk Intan), S Manikavasagam (PKR-Kapar), Charles Santiago (DAP-Klang), R Sivarasah (PKR-Subang), Selangor exco Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, Sungkai assemblyman A Sivaneson, Senawang state assemblyman P Guna and Senators Daljit Singh Dalliwal and S Ramakrishnan.
Schools facing closure
Kulasegaran expressed concern over the situation of Tamil schools located on private land as well as the issue of partially and fully-aided schools and the danger of closure of some 50% of Tamil schools.
“The danger concerns Tamil schools which have less than 50 students and this involves nearly half of the 523 schools. There are 64 Tamil schools with less than 25 students which are facing closure. This will cause some 200 teachers to lose their jobs,” he said.
He added that in the last 30 years, 68 Tamils schools had been closed down.
Devamany said that over the last three years, the government had spent RM300 million on Tamil schools.
The MIC vice-president also stressed that his party was willing to work with any group or political organisation to develop Tamil schools.
Meanwhile, NGO Tamil Foundation suggested that the government grant licenses to relocate several Tamil schools from the estates to urban areas.
According to statistics in 2010, 84% of the Indian community were living in urban areas.
Licence for Simpang Lima school
Currently, schools with five acres and more were eligible to be fully-aided schools.
A resolution was also passed at the conference that the government must immediately grant licence to the Simpang Lima Tamil cchool in Seri Andalas, Selangor.
The school was the first Tamil school picked as a cluster school among the 30 schools appointed under the Education Ministry’s cluster of excellent schools programme. However, the school was facing a shortage of places for the 2,400 pupils.
Kulasegaran said that the second meeting would be held on July 8 to select the members of the steering committee.
It is learnt that of the 18, there would be six members from BN, six from Pakatan and the rest from Tamil Foundation and other NGOs.