Second royal commission Abdullah should establish is on quality education for primary, secondary, tertiary, mother-tongue and ICT to make it the top national objective to face the 21st century challenges of globalisation
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Samsudin, is showing the “big stick” when he told Utusan Malaysia today that the involvement of Chinese national-type primary schools in the Vision School programme would be made compulsory if all other efforts to make it a success fails.
In the report “Penyertaan SJKC diwajib jika masih berdegil”, Aziz said: “Semua usaha telah dibuat tetapi masih ada yang berdegil. Kita akan meneruskan usaha ini (pembinaan Sekolah Wawasan) demi kepentingan masa depan rakyat kerana ia tidak menjejaskan dasar pendidikan negara.”
Such compulsion would only be enforced after the next general election, especially if there is a landslide victory for the Barisan Nasional – which would be taken as a national mandate for the steam-rolling over all legitimate objections to the Vision School concept, although such a stubborn government attitude is totally at variance with the profession by the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that he wants to “hear the real voice” of the people!
This is another example of the new Prime Minister saying one thing but the government and system doing exactly the opposite – whether about a clean and incorruptible administration, a people-oriented and efficient civil service or to “hear the real voice” of the people!
If Abdullah’s call to the people to speak the “truth” to him is to be the guiding motto of the government, the Education Ministry should stop its Vision School programme so as to address all the valid and legitimate concerns and objections , as well fears about the role and future of Chinese primary schools in the national education system.
The second Royal Commission Abdullah should establish is on quality education for primary, secondary, tertiary, mother-tongue and ICT to make it the top national objective to face the 21st century challenges of globalization – as Malaysia is facing the crisis of quality of education at all levels in the country.
The unreasonable attitude of the Education Ministry is illustrated by its refusal to re-open the Damansara Chinese primary school after a three-year closure, although the Petaling district in Selangor suffers from an acute shortage of at least six new Chinese primary schools!
That something is very wrong with the quality of education from primary to tertiary level was illustrated by the announcement by Abdullah of a RM200 million tuition voucher scheme for 500,000 Year Four, Five and Six primary school pupils from poor families to obtain extra lessons in Mathematics, Science, English and Bahasa Malaysia.
The need for the RM200 million tuition voucher scheme for 500,000 Primary Four, Five and Six pupils – with some schools probably involving more than 50 per cent of the pupils in a class - is a major personal failure of the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad, who came into politics and the Education Ministry from academia four years ago purportedly to ensure that the national education system could provide quality education for all, regardless of urban or rural areas, whether, primary, secondary or tertiary.
Normally, an education system should be providing incentives to teachers to give their best to develop the full potential of their students to achieve among other things, their best academic attainments. With the RM200 million tuition voucher scheme, Malaysian teachers will be given the incentive not to do their best in their normal classes so that they could earn extra monies ranging from RM250 to RM1,000 a month from tuition classes to the same students! Will there be tuition vouchers in future for teachers to develop the human personality of their pupils after class?
The tuition voucher scheme of the Education Ministry is something like the Home Minister announcing a RM200 million security voucher scheme for certain socio-economic groups to engage private security guards to protect them from the double rise in crime rate and fear of crime, with the policemen in the same district allowed to earn the extra income themselves by providing the services after their office hours. Aren’t we tacking the wrong problems?
The crisis of quality of university education in Malaysia was driven home in a comment by an academician to me this morning that the problem of university education is not “unemployed graduates” but “unemployable graduates”!
Malaysia's education system needs to undergo not just a reform, but a revolution – and this is the challenge which should engage Abdullah and his Cabinet, instead of being distracted and diverted by misguided concepts like the Vision School programme which has proved to be so divisive in the country.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman