Ahmad Zainuddin said the segregation happened when students were streamed based on merit, the subjects they took and the packages they selected in Form Four after district education officers had been asked the investigate the 25 schools named by the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) as among the some 200 schools which streamed students according to race.
Ahmad Zainuddin’s explanation for the racial streaming of students in the 25 schools in Perak is difficult to understand or accept, but nonetheless, his preparedness to admit the existence of such a practice is a good start to zero in and root out the problem.
It is just not good enough for Ahmad Zainuddin to try to justify such practices in the Perak schools on the ground that the state education department had not received any complaint from parents, Parent-Teachers’ Associations or any unions regarding racial segregation in schools before the matter was publicised - as a wrong does not cease to be a wrong from long practice. Furthermore, can Ahmad Zainuddin seriously suggest that there had been no such complaints before he took up his appointment as the Perak state education director?
Be that as it may, the country must show its maturity in dealing with this problem in a sensible and rational manner, instead of uttering threats that those who expose or want to root out the practice are “anti-national” or trying to subvert inter-racial harmony and goodwill, with ominous claims such as the one by the UMNO Youth leader Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn that public discussion of the racial segregation of students has “gone overboard” blissfully ignoring the fact that it is such pernicious practices which had “gone overboard”.
There can be no excuses for continuing to sweep the outrageous practice of racial streaming of students in schools under the carpet and there must a firm national determination to identify and root out the problem without any compromise whatsoever - especially as Malaysia will be celebrating our 45th National Day next August.
DAP offers full co-operation to the Education Ministry and the government to restore public confidence in the education system by systematically, but in a rational, unemotional and cool-headed manner to completely root out the racial segregation of students in schools to provide the proper environment for the new generation to grow up as Malaysians rather than as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans.