Restore parents’ faith in national schools, don urges Putrajaya

Vernacular schools are proving popular with parents.

PETALING JAYA: An academic, who is against multistream schools, has urged Putrajaya to look into the reasons why parents are shunning national schools.

Teo Kok Seong, a professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said homeschooling centres and vernacular schools, which are popping up everywhere, do not promote national identity and unity.

“The pride and the identity of a country are in its national schools. Yet, they are not becoming the number one choice for parents to send their children,” he told FMT.

He urged the education ministry to discuss and release guidelines to put an end to the on-going complaints by Malay and non-Malay parents on national schools.

Explaining why parents don’t send their children to national schools, Teo said some of the national schools were too Islamic in nature and the quality of teaching was also not up to the mark.

He claimed those administrating these schools are also being appointed on the basis of race, not merit.

Prof Teo Kok Seong.

Teo said parents don’t care if teachers belong to any particular race. What they expect of teachers is “dedication and quality”.

“Choose them on the basis of merit, not the race.”

He said the education ministry should also try to change the perception of parents who think national schools are “too Islamic”.

Failure of the ministry in addressing the complaints of parents could result in Malaysia continuing to have multistream schools and children from only one race mingling with each other, he said.

“We are racially dividing our children from a very young age. This is bad for national unity.”

Teo said the government should take measures to make national schools the first choice for parents.

Every year, about half a million students start their Year One in Malaysia.

The country has national schools, Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools, Islamic schools, homeschooling centres and private and international schools.

Many parents prefer vernacular schools as the language, identity and culture of a particular community are given importance.