MIC’s Take On One School System

Oh dear, after all these years, they still clueless on why they took a hit in 2008?

(In the picture – MIC on the wrong side of the Tamil schools. No doubt Tamil schools have been the key factor when it comes to MIC and its claim that it is fighting for the community and yes, that they have helped out the schools in the past with financial assistances and others allocations but are they playing the crucial role in the next evolution of the education system in the country by looking at quality instead of quantity? Image source)

From theSun:-

Question: Why are Tamil schools so important to MIC? You yourself come from a national school and the majority of Indians are in national schools.

Answer: Tamil schools are part and parcel of Indian culture – they go to Tamil schools not only to learn Tamil, but also to learn culture and religion. If Tamil schools go away, then tradition and culture will also go.

Question: Why are young professionals shying away from MIC?

Answer: They don’t see MIC as a fun party – the president has plans to rejuvenate the party with younger representation – we have also Putra MIC for the youths. The young must be patient – MIC has only four parliamentary seats and seven state seats.

Question: Is the concept of catering to only one race not attractive?

Answer: Yes and no. But only in MIC one can write, speak and talk in Tamil – but even for non-Tamil speakers, they are not left out as some of the meetings are conducted in English and Bahasa.

Question: How has MIC been preparing for the next general election (GE), especially after the bitter defeat in 2008?

Answer: MIC has stressed that we must win back what we lost and retain those we won. We are doing everything that we can to get the numbers we had in 2004, we know it is difficult, it may not be possible. Compared with his predecessor (Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu), MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is not much in the news. You cannot compare the two leaders. It is not easy to take up the leadership at this time especially after the bad showing in the 2008 election. His style of working is different. We are reported in the Tamil papers. Yes, it is not enough, and we have also put MIC TV available on YouTube and are also communicating with urban Tamils.

I could have just ignored the interview but there was one thing he said that made me stop in my thoughts and wonder.

I am referring to Kamalanathan’s “reason” on why we still need Tamil schools in this country. Kamalanathan is saying that without Tamil schools in this country, the tradition and culture will also go. No doubt Kamalanathan is looking from his point of view as one of the MIC’s leaders but there must be reality check somewhere there. It is important  to understand the role of the school these days. Is it to encourage and propagate tradition and culture? Or is it another means to get good education with a different language as the main base (due to students’ background and mastery of language)?

I think we need to get the priorities right – education & discipline should be confined to schools and tradition & culture (and religion) confined to temples and cultural centers (like the Temple of Fine Arts). The moment you start to mix the both, you going to get in trouble and leave room for abuse and misdirection – certainly not with young innocent minds. It is downright unfair too – what about other races who does not share the same tradition and culture, are we going to built separate schools for them? Surely they want to preserve their traditions and culture as well.

And why we are continuing to break-up the schools into various sectors and race when it is crucial to have one school, one language for all? If the concern is losing the hold of the tradition & culture, then we should relook into how we can fuse tradition and culture in our temples (we seems have too many of them) or cultural centres (and perhaps with more tradition & cultural segments on public media like TV and newspapers). There are alternatives on how we can continue to maintain the tradition and culture without going through the schools. But please, let’s keep the race, tradition, culture and religion crap out of schools.

The reason for it is rather simple – it defeats the progress to greater unity as reasoned below:-

Historically, the British built separate vernacular schools to maintain racial divide and prejudice to lord over us. It is indeed expedient and shrewd and one of the things that should have been kicked out right after Malaysia gained independence from the British if our leaders truly want to see a united Malaysia turn up without jeopardising our national language, our official religion, our monarchy and our Rukun Negara.

Vernacular schools impede national unity at the primordial stage; there is no room for vernacular school in a multi-racial society.

(Source)

And if the concern is losing the hold of the Tamil language (still remember the controversy on the extra language SPM papers?), this is because not enough attempts made to provide alternative language classes at national schools – all we need is the classes & qualified teachers in national schools (MIC can play a strong role here) and not a whole school with different emphasis, language, structure and funding. At this juncture, I must recap what OutSyed the Box said on the need to have common language (hence different schools in the same country) – it makes more sense than what Kamalanathan is trying to say:-

The time has also come where we must seriously consider merging the school system into just one school system i.e. based on Bahasa Malaysia and English only. We need to abolish the Chinese and Tamil language school system. The Chinese and Tamil language heroes say that if Chinese and Tamil schools are abolished, their language and culture will also disappear. Wrong.

There are 1.5 billion Chinese in China who will make sure that the Chinese language, culture and the Chinese people will never disappear from the face of the earth. The same argument applies for the 1.0 billion Indians in India. This however is Malaysia. It is not and cannot be China or India.

When Chinese, Indians and anyone else migrate to Australia they learn to speak English in a jiffy. No one asks for Tamil or Mandarin to be made national languages in Australia. No one sings the Waltzing Matilda in Tamil or Mandarin in Australia.

The same logic applies to Malaysia. It is high time non Malays in Malaysia learn to speak Malay like a native Malay. Getting straight As for Bahasa Malaysia in the SPM does not mean anything if you still say ‘saya api kereta naik mari’ or ‘saya naik keleta api mali sini.”

It is not cute anymore. Actually it is quite embarrassing. Please, let’s speak the language the way it should be spoken.

Now, coming back to the need for Tamil school – it is not an issue of losing tradition and culture if the Tamil schools are closed down that we need to fear of (yes, there will be some impact but not to the point where the future generations would be clueless on tradition and culture). Just look at the Indians in US and UK who are doing well in maintaining their tradition and culture despite going to a non-Indian language based schools.

There is a greater concern when a politician from a race based political party insists on preserving the Tamil schools – we fear that attempts to breakdown this segregation and forcing everyone to go to the same school and speak the language will be derailed or sabotaged by race based policies and race based political party who hold them as the trump cards to be still relevant. And this is what is happening in our education system – it has been screwed up to a point we are still having different schools in the country.

Surely there will be specific issues that will face certain communities more than others from time to time but we need to consider which one is more critical. If it is on education and national unity, let’s fight for the good of the country and not just for each others communities. Do that and you will earn our confidence and our votes in the next general elections.

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