Guan Eng: Correct ‘defects’ in national schools

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KUALA LUMPUR: The reduction in the number of non-Malay students in national-type schools and more non-Chinese enrolling in Chinese-language schools is a sign of “defects” in the national education system, says DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng.

He felt this showed a swing towards “Malaysian-ness” and diversity in Chinese schools.

Lim said the Education Ministry ought to observe this trend and fix the damage.

“DAP reiterates its call to put meritocracy and performance back into our education system or else not only will our educational standards suffer but more Malay parents will choose Chinese schools for their children.

“If education continues to be politicised and the pursuit of excellence is left behind to enable the BN government to score political points, then our children will be the sacrificial lambs, with inferior standards and low competitive levels,” he said in a statement today.

Lim, who is also Penang chief minister, said even Malays were aware of the weak command of Science and Maths among students in national-type schools.

He said this was a motivating factor behind why so many Malay parents preferred to send their children to Chinese schools.

“Malay parents want to see their children excel in Maths.

“They also love the fact that there are up-to-date computer and sports facilities in Chinese schools.

“So they send their kids there knowing their children are in good hands,” Lim said.

Lim also said it was shocking that 15-year-old students in Malaysia turned out to be weak in Science and Maths when they sat for the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) — losing out to Asean neighbours, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“DAP urges the Education Ministry to wake up and face up to its failures by taking into account this latest report.

“We should not lose another generation of excellent students and see countries like Thailand and Vietnam not only catching up, but also surpassing us.”

Lim said Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid must concede that national-type schools had failed to promote diversity, owing to the large number of non-Chinese students in Chinese schools.

“While we would agree with Mahdzir that Chinese schools will never become the mainstream school medium in 10 years’ time and it would be impossible to replace national schools, he must concede that national schools have failed to promote greater diversity or a more Malaysian character. Chinese schools are more multiracial than national schools.”

Recently, former National Education Advisory Council member Prof Dr Teo Kok Seong said there was an upward trend of non-Chinese parents admitting their students in Chinese-type schools.

He said national-type schools registered only 4% non-Malay students, while Chinese schools had 18% non-Chinese students. He predicted the numbers would soar in years to come.

In a study into this trend, the council found five reasons for this.

These were poor teaching and delivery methods in national schools; the administration of national schools was dominated by one race; these schools were seen as being too Islamic; disciplinary issues were seen as a major problem, and some schools were not maintained well, with outdated computers.

Teo also said teachers who were experts in their respective subjects should be put in charge of the subject. He also said only those able to run a school should be made principals.

“There should be no preference according to race. Parents just want someone who is capable of teaching and disciplining their kids.

“If this can be done, the government will be able to regain parents’ confidence and attract more non-Malays into national schools.”