He said the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had at that Cabinet meeting directed the Education Ministry to implement as soon as possible the Barisan Nasional’s 1999 general election pledges to build new Chinese primary schools and relocate Chinese primary schools, and agreed to the building of more Chinese primary schools “according to need”.
The Cabinet had on Wednesday approved the Eighth Malaysia Plan which would be presented to Parliament for debate and adoption next month.
I call on Liong Sik to declare whether the Eighth Malaysia Plan had clearly incorporated the “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education” by stating in no uncertain terms that in the next five years from 2001 to 2005, new Chinese primary schools would be built according to need and that the Education Ministry would respect and honour the wishes of parents to build Chinese primary schools to meet local community needs - as for instance, a Chinese primary school for residential areas where there are 7,500 people who wish to send their children for Chinese mother-tongue education.
Yesterday, the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim announced that the new Damansara Chinese primary school being built in Tropicana in Selangor in record-time of eight months would be the biggest Chinese primary school in the country with 36 classrooms which could have an enrolment of 3,600 students.
There is nothing to be proud but a lot to be ashamed to be the biggest and most sardine-packed Chinese primary school in the country.
As the government has announced a new policy towards one-session schooling in the best interests of the students, why is the Education Ministry aiming to build another two-session biggest Chinese primary school in the country?
When the Education Ministry introduced the 3M syllabus for primary schools in the early eighties, it spoke of the ideal classroom size of from 28-30 students so that the pupils can have the best learning conditions and the teachers can give of their best with the government pledging to work towards this classroom size.
The new Damansara Chinese primary school being built in record time of eight months in Tropicana should be the first project of a new Chinese primary school with a single session with classroom size of 30 pupils, which will put the maximum student population for the school at 1,080 pupils with 36 classrooms.
New Chinese primary schools should be built in other parts of Petaling Jaya and the Klang Valley in accordance with the community school concept of a Chinese primary school to serve the a population catchment of every 7,500 people, which would be equivalent to a Rukun Tetangga unit or three housing estates so that schools are easily accessible to the students and within walking distance from their homes.
It is ridiculous and outrageous for a highly developed metropolitan area like Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya that pupils have to get up before 5 a.m. to catch the school bus and do not get home until some 12 hours later at about 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., just because parents want to send their children to Chinese primary schools and the government has all these decades refused to build new Chinese primary schools or to extend the community school concept which applies to national primary schools to Chinese primary schools.
The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad had said on Tuesday that there are 2.3 million pupils attending 4,800 national schools, which puts the ratio at 500 pupils to every school, 610,000 pupils attending 1,284 Chinese primary schools or 475 pupils a school, and 90,000 pupils attending 530 Tamil primary schools which works out to fewer than 200 pupils a school. He said based on these figures, the government has to focus on national schools to enable increased intake of children of various races.
Dong Jiao Zhong has however rebutted Musa’s figures, using statistics from the Education Ministry, which shows that for the year 2,000, the number of students in the different primary streams works out to 412 for each national primary school, 485 for each Chinese primary schools and 171 for each Tamil primary school.
It is most shocking that the Education Minister could make such a fundamental mistake in educational statistics which does not reflect well on his competence and grasp of his subject.
In actual fact, Chinese primary schools in urban areas have student enrolments which are many times that of the average of 485 each. For instance, in Petaling, Selangor, there are over 25,000 Chinese primary school pupils crammed into 14 Chinese primary schools, with eight of them having more than 2,000 pupils. The government should immediately be building at least 12 new Chinese primary schools in Petaling according to need and the community school concept.
Liong Sik should let Malaysians know whether the Eighth Malaysia Plan approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday has incorporated the “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education” where new Chinese primary schools would be built according to need, and if so, why this “historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese primary schools” could not begin with the government retaining and re-opening the original Damansara school in addition to the building of a new Chinese primary school in Tropicana in eight months?
Liong Sik and the other three MCA Ministers would have a lot of explaining to do to the Chinese community as well as the entire MCA membership and should even resign from their Ministerial positions if they have again misled the Chinese community and the entire MCA membership when in fact the Cabinet had not incorporated “a historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education” in the Eighth Malaysia Plan where new Chinese primary schools would built in the next five years according to need.