Najib should explain what the government under a new Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister proposes to do to ensure fair and equal treatment in the building of new primary schools, whether national or Chinese primary schools, to meet increasing student demand completely devoid of political considerations?
- DAP forum “The New Prime Minister’s Effect of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday): The political honeymoon period of the first 100 days of the new Prime Minister is not only a period of suspended judgment where fine words and promises suffice as substitutes for action and results with heightened hopes and expectations, it is also a period for easy political make-beliefs when critical examination of the new leader’s old team is virtually abandoned.
This morning’s press, for instance, gives the impression that the new Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, is the new champion of Chinese primary schools when he said that there will be no closure of “micro” Chinese primary schools, including those with less than 10 pupils.
According to data from Jiao Zong, in 2003, there were 81 Chinese primary schools with less than 30 pupils in the country - 22 Chinese primary schools with less than 10 pupils, 31 Chinese primary schools with 11-20 pupils; 28 Chinese primary schools with 21-30 pupils. Out of 1,287 Chinese primary schools in the country, 501 schools have less than 150 pupils.
The existence of “micro” Chinese primary schools with very low pupil enrolment is only one of the long list of protracted problems faced by Chinese primary schools in the country, as on the other end of the spectrum is the problem of serious overcrowding of pupils in Chinese primary schools and classes.
In the new school year in Ipoh, for instance, 53 pupils are squeezed into one class in the Chinese primary schools, going against all educational principles and the Education Ministry’s “best practices” of 25-30 pupils for a class. In Kuala Lumpur for 2002, the average pupil-per-class ratio for Chinese primary schools was 45 as compared to 30 for national primary schools and 26 for Tamil primary schools.
It would be more meaningful for Najib to explain what the government under the leadership of a new Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister proposes to do to ensure fair and equal treatment in the building of new primary schools, whether national or Chinese primary schools, to meet increasing student demand, completely devoid of political considerations!
In the three years after the 1999 general election, the unfair and inequitable construction of Chinese primary schools as compared to national primary schools continued unabated.
Enrolment for national primary schools from 2,000 to 2003 increased by 52,910 pupils, i..e. from 2,193,582 to 3,246,492, which saw an increase of 171 new national primary schools – or an average of one new school for 308 new pupils. In contrast, while enrolment in Chinese primary schools in the three years from 2,000 to 2003 increased by 9,468 pupils from 622,712 to 632,180, only one new Chinese primary school was built during this period, or one new Chinese primary school for an additional 9,468 pupils when 31 new Chinese primary schools should have been built if the Education Ministry had a fair and even-handed policy for the building of all primary schools based purely on increasing student demand.
As the Education Minister from 1995-1999, Najib should understand the problems faced by Chinese primary schools, in particular the unfairness and injustice of the failure to match the increase of Chinese primary school enrolment with new Chinese primary schools.
In fact, based on the following statistics given in the Ten-Year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 prepared by the Education Ministry, during Najib’s tenure as Education Minister, the number of Chinese primary schools had actually fallen from 1,288 to 1,284 although Chinese primary school enrolment registered the biggest increase of 4.7% or 28,192 pupils:
Jadual 2.1: Bilangan Sekolah, Kelas dan Enrolmen Sekolah Rendah pada Tahun 1995 dan 2000
Sumber: Penerangkaan Pendidikan Malaysia, BPPDP 1995 dan 2000
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman