My brother’s son is 5 and his parents are fretting on which school he should be enrolled in now itself – SRK/Tamil school/Chinese school.
Their minds are fixed on SRK and now they are fretting on which SRK should they put their only son in – in the city or in a rural area.
Now, my brother’s dilemma is about effective teachers and conducive study environment as well as friends his son will make and the need of tuition – his son is only 5 and my brother is already worried about the quality of Malaysian education.
The quality of Malaysian education is indeed questionable
I did not go to tuition throughout my school days, except for a brief tuition attendance for Math in Form 1. Most of my school teachers were good enough and I have an in built trait to study without being told to study. But, my mom compelled me to attend SMC when I sat for SPM and I did and I hated it with all my heart.
Besides the lousy and practically useless Indian dress code and all kinds of Kalvi Yuttham (Education war), Kalvi Yaathirai (Education Pilgrimage), the unsightly murky green coloured file bag and sometimes annoying and racist motivational talks, there was an elitist system and draconian rules amply applied.
I hailed from an unpopular secondary school where there weren’t many high achievers and because of that, my other tuition mates who were not from such high notch secondary schools and me were treated differently from the girls and boys from prominent missionary schools with illustrious history and edifice. The latter were given special treatment. No teacher would say a word to them if they didn’t bring the ugly file bag or when the girls from Methodist Girls School wear body hugging tops and long skirts and either if boys from such schools do monkey business.
Once, I went to SMC tuition after Red Cross co-curricular activities in school, dressed in the white colour Red Cross tee and black track pants. One teacher told me off in front of everyone, ” Why are you dressed like a boy? Don’t you know how to dress like a girl?” I felt so humiliated and angry, I packed my books up and left. Once home, I told my mum that I am never going to the tuition center ever again. I told her firmly that I can study by myself.
While the girls from Methodist Girls School dress in body fitting tops is a non issue, me, dressed in a baggy tee is an offence of the highest order. I would corrupt the minds of my Indian male tuition mates. Sure. And, since the girls and boys have such an immunity, they were very conceited, looking down on those students from rural and not high achieving schools. The teachers too gave special attention to such students – we got dianak tirikan. We displayed our chagrin by giving shaming monikers for the schools. Methodist Girls School, acronym, MGS was dubbed as Monkey Girls School and ACS was named, Agong Curi Spender, lol.. 🙂
I also dislike SMC’s modus operandi; the center leaves out Christian and Muslim Indians. Their SOP is intertwined with the Hindu religion, in the belief that faith in RELIGION is crucial to SUCCESS in education, specifically Hinduism – this exclusivity is non encompassing, to say the least.
I only attended SMC for 4 months or so and when SPM results came out, my name was there in their list of high achievers. Oh well, publicity.
Now, the contention whether tuition is needed or not and here comes the full blown racism that is compromising the quality of Malaysian education.
My aunt narrated her experience on how her boys scored so well in SPM despite not going to tuition – now, her boys didn’t go to elite secondary school, they attended a backwater secondary school in an estate where their dad was the manager. My aunt did send them to tuition – it took the boys one hour to reach the tuition center, another one hour of coaching and another one hour to return home and this routine was extant for 5 days a week. After 2 months of such commuting, the boys threw in the towel. They declared to their parents that they can study by themselves and they did. They both only had several hours of coaching from a home tutor in the Add Math subject. Now, the eldest boy is doing medicine in Indonesia and the second boy is doing chemical engineering in Petronas University, Sri Iskandar.
Me too, don’t believe that going to tuition would secure straight As. Of course tuition helps but it is only in the short run. In the long run, tuition will make students dependent when they get into varsity – they won’t have the motivation to study on their own. They will have to be keyed in order to hit the books. And, this indirectly lowers the quality of Malaysian education. Tuition fed students lack drive and enthusiasm and will be always on the wait for someone to push them.
My niece went to a Tamil school and she scored 7 As in UPSR. She is now in Form 1 and her mother spends more than RM 200 a month for tuition. My niece complains on how Malay teachers in her school make all Indian students sit at the back of the class and situate the Malay students in front. The teachers wouldn’t entertain doubts in subjects from non Malay students, specifically Indians and my niece is having it tough in school.
Nowadays many teachers are making big money by giving tuition – some teach less in school and more during tuition and racism is feeding this frenzy in some way or other. Education is made into business when it is supposed to be a basic human right.
My 13 year old youngest cousin sister went to a Tamil school and she is suffering the same fate as my niece – her Malay teachers too, only focus on Malay students and coach and drill them on exam questions and sometimes leak the exam questions so that the Malay students will score. Non Malay students are told to wait in the canteen while the Malay teachers give tips and leaks to the Malay students. This scenario is happening in many, many SMK and SRK schools.
My cousin brother got into MRSM after PMR and he got the first rank in the school in Form 4. One day, he overheard his Malay teachers telling their Malay students that they should not let an Indian emerge tops in school and that they should prevent it at any cost. My terrified cousin told his dad that and he changed his son to another school promptly.
In my secondary school, the system was so designed that students from Tamil schools are relegated to the 3rd best class no matter how excellent their UPSR scores are. I witnessed this malicious establishment and a friend of mine derailed due to this discrimination.
I was the only one who got A1 in Malay language in my school in SPM and my Malay headmistress was very unhappy about it.
These aforementioned racial biases significantly reduce the quality of Malaysian education at the literal inception itself. At the end of the day, IPTAs churn out Malay run off mill graduates who are not globally competitive and they end up in public service as vetti mundam, veena pone thandam. No international company would hire them plainly because they are not capable enough because the quality of Malaysian education has been down graded.
This favouritism is taking a toll on the quality of Malaysian education and our leaders KNOW THAT ALL TOO WELL. They are actually fostering this preferential treatment for their political importance and mileage at the cost of education excellence.
Besides exam orientated education system, the quality of Malaysian education is also plummeting because of the discrepancies in the system itself – the gross lack of uniformity and racial interaction. The Chinese are generally good in Math, the Indians, in English and the Malays, in Bahasa Melayu. It would be immensely wonderful and useful if they can help out each other academically as friends. But, I am very sorry to say that Malaysian racial integration had gone to the dogs.
There was sekolah wawasan where 3 types of schools were united under one roof, having 3 administrations but share the library, canteen etc but still racial integration left much to be desired. The school ended up as hangat-hangat tahi ayam in implementation. No solid positive outcome came from sekolah wawasan simply because the flocking tendency was not addressed; the vernacular schools students and the SK students were still in the confines of their respective ethnic groups.
Foremost, attitudes need to also change. There is still polarization within the national schools now. There is a school which has separate bicycle parking places for Malays and Indians. There’s a school in Bangsar where the teachers force the kids to play sports based on stereotypes; Chinese to play only basketball, Indians to play hockey and Malays to play football. Adult attitudes at school and at home need to change. So many Malay kids are being told they should not mix with other races and religions. So you can have one school but you’ll have the kids in different corners based on their races.
The only way one school for all makes sense is for the standard of education in the national schools to be super-quality but stereotype that most of us, Malaysians are completely oblivious of is hampering that mission and our politicians don’t have the political will to tackle this problem.
There is a chapter known as ‘stereotype threat’ in psychology. When you start believing stereotypes about yourself, the cycle just goes on. There have been studies showing that people unconsciously absorb stereotypes about themselves and then perform accordingly.
Due to racial stereotype in school, students in IPTAs can be seen flocking in groups of their own ethnicity. We don’t need to go far – just check your Facebook friend list. Indians would have close to 90% of Indians in their friend list and the same is true for other races here. Even I am guilty of this. This is the unconscious programming of the stereotype – we are subconsciously more comfortable with our own race.
Race relations now are far worse than in the 50s and 60s and that is contributing to the decline of the quality of Malaysian education – the best in each race is not nurtured and utilized fully. Instead, we are discriminating ourselves by race and religion and create a complete education disaster; UM was in the top 10 of the best universities in the world in the 50s, 60s and 70s and now, the oldest university in Malaysia rank in the 200 and below.
Things can be salvaged but we don’t have much time. For the sake of this country’s future, let’s put our heads together as Malaysians and augment the quality of Malaysian education together before it’s too late.