Mahdzir: Only rural Chinese schools are multiracial

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KUALA LUMPUR: Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid has disputed a forecast based on research findings that Chinese-medium schools may turn into mainstream schools in 10 years.

Mahdzir said only rural Chinese schools and those in Sabah and Sarawak had a multiracial enrolment, but not those in urban areas.

Retired educationist Prof Dr Teo Kok Seong had told FMT that a two-year study by the National Education Advisory Council had showed that Chinese-medium schools would be increasingly multiracial, with a Malay enrolment now at 18 per cent.

Mahdzir, who is MP for Padang Terap (Kedah), said bumiputera pupils comprised 50 per cent of the enrolment of Chinese schools, while in rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak, the bumiputera pupils were predominant.

“But this is not the case in urban areas, where the Chinese community still dominate Chinese schools. So it is not possible (for Chinese-medium schools to replace national schools),” Mahdzir told reporters.

However, he added that the Education Ministry would study the findings to know more on the situation and to explain the matter in full to the public.

Teo had said that national schools registered only 4 per cent non-Malay students while the Chinese schools had 18 per cent non-Chinese students.

He also said the Education Ministry’s 2013-2025 Education Blueprint target of attracting more Chinese and Indian students to national schools was likely to fail by 2025. He said the research showed that more parents were planning to register their children in vernacular or private schools.

On another matter, Mahdzir said the education ministry was still responsible for the upkeep of schools.

A suggestion had been made by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar that all parent-teacher associations (PTA) in Selangor should collect donations to cover maintenance costs in schools.

“I think he meant well,” said Mahdzir. “Maybe what he meant was to help (the government).”

However, upkeep of schools was still the government’s responsibility for which the ministry had its development and acquisition departments.

“There are already some schools doing that (collecting donations). For instance, there are SJKCs who construct buildings out of PTA donations. But there are parents who feel burdened by the fees charged by the schools. This is up to them if they can afford it or not,” he said.

Noh had put forth the suggestion after claiming that maintenance funds for schools were insufficient, despite the government having allocated RM500 million in the 2016 Budget for that purpose.

Related story: Study: Chinese schools may be main schools in 10 years