Nowadays, I always tune in to THR Raaga Malaysia’s Kalakkal Kaalai slot from 9 am – 10 am (by the way, THR Raaga is much, much better now, kudos!) and increasingly got to know of the silent revolution that’s happening in Tamil schools versus what I wrote here that is perhaps the very much needed precedent pedestal that will reform the Malaysian Indian community for the better.
Silent revolution in Tamil schools? Appedi nu onnu irukka?
I hear you asking that question and my answer is a RESOUNDING YES! Why do you think there is suddenly a rise in Tamil school kids bagging international invention awards? But, if your source of news solely come from TV3 or even RTM2 Tamil news slot or even ASTRO Vaanavil 360 degree programs, it’s fat chance that you’ve never heard of these young inventors from Tamil schools. Yet, they do make it to news when they’re supposed to make headlines like this news in the Star Online and here.
Yet, it is not like this is a totally new story – Tamil schools have been producing top notch talents since the days I was in school. Kauselya Muniandy was my schoolmate with a Tamil primary school background and Sugentiran Sugen who got full CGPA scores is also from a Tamil school. Not everyone from Tamil schools reach the pinnacle of success, most likely due to discriminating policies.
So, what’s the story behind this silent revolution? Okay, first of all, these young inventors and talents from Tamil schools get ZERO support and recognition from the government. Not surprising at all since even a Malay math prodigy, who’s math formulas were accepted by Brunei wasn’t acknowledged by the Malaysian Education ministry. He was initially recognised and promised many things by our govt but eventually, the recognition faded out and the promises fizzled out although this blog says otherwise, glorifying Rosmah. The defence of Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin by MARA merely happened because the child pornography material possession case went international – there was a need for smokescreen so that the Malays get a feel that they will be protected no matter what. But, that’s a political observation; let’s not digress.
This revolution in Tamil schools stems from the disillusionment at the govt which literally doesn’t care about the plight of Indians and Tamil schools since independence. Here’s SK Durai’s Ragedindian blog on how unfit Tamil schools are to house students which are not only uncomfortable but dangerous as well and of course MIC’s role in using the allocations from the govt to develop Tamil schools – they don’t develop Tamil schools with the money, they develop their pockets.
So, no succor from anyone, no one bothers about Tamil schools so Tamil schools finally took matters into their own hands, emulating Chinese vernacular schools and might even surpass Chinese schools in the near future in terms of academic excellence. Currently, Tamil schools are doing better and better in UPSR especially in key subjects – science, math and English despite being ill equipped. Yet, the performance of Indian students in SK is overlooked. This is a sad competition between the children of Malaysia segregated in schools, SRK, SJKT and SKJC pits them against each other and this doesn’t help racial integration. But, as long as there are racial official educational policies, true racial integration can never be achieved. And for staunch Tamil schools advocates, a single streamed school where mother tongue is taught is as rhetoric as 1Malaysia. So Tamil schools are bound to stay even though I personally don’t support it.
What’s so special about Tamil schools now?
It is true that teachers in Tamil schools are something else – their dedication is unrivaled by teachers in SK. So much so, my sister who put 2 of her elder sons in SK decided to enroll her youngest son in a Tamil school because Tamil school don’t only emphasize on academic excellence despite the odds, they also emphasize on building character, teaching culture and install identity (although I believe that all that are the responsibilities of parents). Teachers in Tamil schools go out of their way to ensure that students are not left behind, working over time, forking out their own money, on their own initiative – one particular Tamil school teachers even developed a kit to motivate and turn underperforming students into high achievers – individual attention.
Tamil schools are under the microscope of the community – they are constantly pressured to perform better. Such a pressure is not present in national schools. And, in national primary and secondary schools, Indian students are bound to be neglected and even bullied and as a result a base for gang recruitment. If you have a good foundation and a sense of essentials, you can survive anywhere – that’s the mantra Tamil schools are espousing. Tamil schools don’t only emphasize on education excellence – they also teach correct priorities, something students in SK don’t get drilled in. I did a small research and found out that most Indian youngsters into Kollywood matinee idols, slaves for entertainment and proclivity to gangsterism predominantly have a SK primary school background.
Successful people of Tamils schools background are giving back to Tamil schools by forming operational bodies to uplift students in Tamil schools. Non profit organizations like Tamil School Transformation Programme, TSTP, Project ILHAM and Association of Science, Technology and Innovation, ASTI are playing a leading role in taking Tamil schools to literally, “Naangge vere maari, bro!” Founded by Ganesan Seerangam, TSTP focuses on developing communication, skills, attitude, ethics and study methods in Tamil schools, preparing them to become wholesome units in the society later on with a perceived social responsibility. TSTP camps aim to make children realise the value of teachers and parents. A programme by Malaysian Community and Education Foundation, MCEF, a foundation supported by Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, Project ILHAM is a programme to support and guide students from Tamil schools who scored 7 As in UPSR throughout their secondary school journey. I saved the best for the last – ASTI takes the cake in this lexicon by organising Science Fair for Young Children in which kids from Tamils schools are coming tops. Under the wing of its Cambridge engineering grad president, Dr Mohamed Yunus, Tamil schools are outplaying other schools when it comes to international inventive science. Kids in Tamil schools are encouraged to explore and innovate while keeping in check with the syllabus to churn up perfect scores in UPSR which is something incredibly remarkable because with such a limited resources they are excelling so imagine what they can achieve if only the government supports them. I heard Dr Yunus saying on THR Raaga that he won’t be surprised if Tamil schools will have not enough seats in the near future if this exceptional trend continues. ASTI is in need of dire need of donations and if you wish to contribute, click here. Saami ku kaasu theve ille, aasaami ku tha kaasu theve.
The belief that Tamil is losing its appeal as English takes over debunked
Those who say Tamil is taking a backseat as English takes the frontseat, you might want to retract your statement not only because of the silent revolution in Tamil schools but also because as long as there are Tamil departments in ASTRO, RTM Tamil news slot, local Tamil programmes, Tamil translation i.e Google Translate, court translator, subtitles provider, THR Raaga, local Tamil dailies, Tamil publishing and the promising field of computer Tamil font and word graphics, Tamil in Malaysia is not likely to be annihilated.
Kumar Menon, Senior Director (Special Projects) of Stamford College Berhad mentioned that he was told that Tamil is now the third most widely-used language on the Internet, after English and Chinese. There is a theory that the Tamil language is similar in structure to computer programming languages (this maybe wishful logic). Yet, maybe that’s why South India has produced so many programmers.
English is a necessity – Tamil is a priority. Where there is a will, there is a way. My mother tongue is not Tamil, yet, I am fluent in my mother tongue, Tamil and English. Don’t think mastering English is at the expense of your mother tongue, it being Tamil or not. Being multilingual is a plus, not a minus.
This is going to hurt but I’m going to say it anyway. Indian politicians are only keen on enriching themselves. That leaves the ordinary Indians but India semua boleh, 1/2 India boleh jadi PM, India boleh tawan Mt Everest, boleh kerja kat NASA tapi bersatu tak boleh. Most of our Indians aren’t helping fellow Indians, content in chopping each other up over kurang ajaq parve, langsi parve. Few do with donation and ground work like Datuk Dr Thambirajah, SMC founder, S. Pasupathi, a lawyer, the late Dr Jayabarathi and many other unsung heroes. The most important contribution is the one that must come from middle-class Indians, members of the community who have the resources to make a difference but, that is not the case – our Indians are preoccupied by divisive mentality and divisive organisations to go with it – Telugu Association Malaysia, Malayalam Association Malaysia, Mukkulithoor Thevar Sangam, Gounder Sangam, lottu losukku once Bumiputera and other Malaysian ethos are out of the picture. When it comes to helping out the Malaysian Indian community as a whole, one fellow will go, “I’m Malayalee, why should I help Tamil schools?” Punjabi don’t admit that they’re Indians – they say that they’re lain-lain and would rather say that Punjab is in Timbuktu rather than in India. Many Indian Muslims are Bumiputera wannabees – they help mamak and Malays only. “I’m Telugu – I help my people only.” “I’m Nadar – I help my jaathi only.” Let me tell all of you internal racist idiots la, the government doesn’t screw us as Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, Chettiar, Menon, Naidu, Reddy, etc – it screws us as INDIANS. I wrote a Facebook post opposing Telugu provision in MY KAD and a Telugu fellow messaged me that the column is necessary so that the govt funding for Telugu people reach them. Naa apdiye shock aiten – govt gives exclusive funds for Telugu? That means that the govt gives exclusive funds for Hokkien, Teochew, Jakun, Sakai etc also ah? Where are the accounts for such funds? Since when this fund is being given? Under which ministry? The guy couldn’t answer me and then started beating around the bush and then lesap. This is why it is important to have critical thinking. Poi sonna kude nambure maari sollanum.
It is also the fault of the collective Indian community here, namely the Tamil majority – if Indian means by default, the Indian is Tamil and Hindu. If an Indian is unable to speak Tamil, he/she is quickly branded as ashamed to be Indian when he/she may not be Tamil in the first place (take time to take in the essence of this sentence). This refusal or ignorance to recognise the diversity of the Malaysian Indian community is what left Punjabi people disassociating themselves with Indians besides Indra Gandhi’s assassination, Operation Blue Star, Khalistan and Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. A Tamil nationalist fellow went great lengths to discover that I am Telugu hence should not write for a Tamil entertainment portal. Tamil school kids are discovering science and look what he discovered. A non Tamil is expected to know Tamil while the non Tamil’s language is made fun of. Worse, many think that Telugu, Malayalam are castes. Many can’t tell the difference between religion and ethnicity and vernacular schools don’t help. It is high time we acknowledge the diversity of our fellow Indians and get to know them. Dr Yunus is a Muslim – FYI. Make an effort to get to know all local Indian diversity accounts for – read up and make an effort to learn another Indian language if you can besides Tamil. You have nothing to lose but all to gain. Many worry so much that Tamil is going extinct in Malaysia when non Tamils like me have mastered Tamil. How do non Tamils preserve their mother tongue and ethos? There are no Telugu or Malayalam schools. 3 of my sisters, some of my cousins, my niece and nephew went to Tamil schools and are proficient in our mother tongue. My dad used to read Tamil dailies only but would reprimand us if we infiltrate Tamil words when speaking our mother tongue. English & Malay = necessity, Tamil/mother tongue = priority = where there is a will there is a way. Stop proclaiming ‘Tamilan Da’ and clumping all Malaysians of Indian descent as Tamil. This is what drives non Tamil Indians here to be even more detached and prone to separate themselves from the majority Tamil and BN is taking full advantage of this. Why do you think Telugu association, jaathi sangam, etc invite BN politicians for their functions? Matter angge tha irukku. When we are so divided inwardly as a community, the Malaysian dream seems faraway isn’t it? Let’s start with ourselves.
The Malaysian Chinese community is more internally diverse than the Malaysian Indian community but they still have a sense of community. Our Indians on the other hand are busy either slaughtering each other or outclassing each other. Aperom enthe aaniye pudunga mudiyum? Pun intended. We have to start somewhere so let’s start from our children – Tamil schools or not. It’s now or never. A revolution cannot be more timely.