NATIONAL SCHOOLS: Be truly ‘national’ to attract all races

Monday, August 06, 2012

By Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan 0 comments

THE letter “Public schools bring us together” (NST, July 30) called for the setting up of a common public school that caters for all the races, religions, languages and cultures in this country.

The different types of schools in the early years of child development have segregated us.

Undeniably, a single education system will boost unity among our children. It will enable them to learn to mix freely with one another and live with greater understanding, tolerance and respect for one another.

In the past, there have been numerous calls for children of all backgrounds to study, learn and play in their formative years in national schools, the closest to being a public school in every sense of the term.

However, national schools have lost their appeal among non-Malay parents, despite the fact that they are better endowed in terms of infrastructure and human resources to provide a conducive learning environment.

Many national primary schools have Malays making up 90 per cent of their teachers and 100 per cent of their head teachers.

Added to this is a growing Islamic influence in national primary schools.

The daily school assembly starts with a prayer. Each lesson begins with the recitation of a prayer.

The young non-Malay child is in a dilemma when everyone else is engaged in prayers.

Some non-Malay parents may look upon these practices in national schools as subtle means to influence non-Muslim children to embrace the Islamic way of life.

Some have argued that unless religion is kept personal and out of education, we will not see national schools appealing to the public. Some contend that national schools should be neutral.

The teaching of pupils’ own language (POL) — Tamil and Mandarin — is another contention that drives away non-Malay parents from enrolling their children in national schools.

POL is taught after school hours. Parents desire that POL be incorporated into the main timetable.

National schools should reflect the national composition of the country and, therefore, they should have a more dedicated and racially balanced number of head teachers, teachers and non-academic staff.

Greater emphasis should be placed on teaching English and vernacular languages in national primary schools.

The reintroduction of English-medium schools could bring us back together as one. Then, the people of all races would be sending their children to study in English schools.

The concept of national schools in this country is that it is the mainstream education for all children. This can only be achieved if the children of all races, faiths and cultures go to national schools, which should strive to be truly national to attract them.

Read more: NATIONAL SCHOOLS: Be truly ‘national’ to attract all races – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/national-schools-be-truly-national-to-attract-all-races-1.121264#ixzz22izz4Rsy