Right to support national-type secondary schools

By Lim Sue Goan, The Malaysian Insider

Although I was a Chinese independent high school student, I support the Chinese community effort to help fund 78 national-type secondary schools as they are part of the Chinese education system. There should be no factional division in education.

The United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong) opposes the Chinese community’s support for the national-type secondary schools, claiming that these schools are national school, and it would be a very heavy financial burden for the Chinese community to support both the Chinese independent high schools and the national-type secondary schools at the same time.

It is surely unreasonable for the Dong Zong to refuse to assist the national-type secondary schools simply because they are national schools. Such an inflexible dogmatic approach is unrealistic and unwarranted.

Some people think that national schools should not be supported, even though they are teaching in Chinese language, as it is a matter of principle, and we should avoid setting a precedent.

It is such a concept that has caused rigidity in thinking which has also caused self-handicapping in Chinese education.

When some people talk about national-type secondary schools, they will not help but relate them to history. It no longer matters why these schools were transformed into national schools in the past as many key figures involved have passed away. It is important that at present and in the future, how could these schools make the greatest contribution in cultivating Chinese students?

It is in fact an attempt of trying to simplify the issue by worrying of thinned Chinese community resources and public funding. If a person donates RM7 to a Chinese independent high school and RM3 to a national-type secondary school, the money would not be wasted. There are always returns we can get from investment in education. A Chinese independent high school may have 10 bright students to show, while a national-type secondary school might produce more. No matter what type of schools the Chinese talents are from, the Chinese community will be the ultimate beneficiary.

A total of 60 Chinese independent high schools are unable to accommodate all Chinese students and thus the national-type secondary schools will play a supporting role. Most Chinese primary school teachers are from the national-type secondary schools and thus the success of these schools will also ensure the success of Chinese primary schools.

Although the syllabus cannot be changed, Dong Zong can still pass on the Chinese independent high school teaching methods. At the same time, it can also encourage the national-type secondary schools teachers to communicate with educators from Taiwan and China.

After the formation of the two-party system, the national-type secondary schools will not turn into abandoned children. For example, the Perak state government has set aside RM2 million for 17 national-type secondary schools.

Education is not a zero-sum game. The combination of educational resources and experience can bring a greater force, while segmentation and fragmentation will only weaken Chinese education.