On the New Malaysian Educational Blueprint: Shift #1 on equal opportunity in education

How do Malaysian provide equal access to education when the problem of equity, equal opportunity, and equality is systemic, ingrained, historical, and class-based? Sometime ago, I wrote the following classification of Malaysian schools:


Dr Azly Rahman

MALAYSIANS .. your educational system might be at risk … you have developed seven types of schools …

1) POWER schools, i. e. international schools meant for the rich and powerful who will compete and collaborate with children of expatriates and to save children from the children of the poor and of the natives;

2) PRIVATE schools, i.e. most often very expensive “breakaway schools” meant to save children from poor teaching, overcrowded classrooms, and save children of the rich from those of the lower and middle class;

3) PRIVILEGED SCHOOLS, i.e. well-funded boarding schools built to safeguard racial privileges and to instill ketuanan Melayu amongst children who did well in their kampong schools to be saved from the schools for the poor, to groom them so that they will become leaders that will protect the rights of this or that race;

4) PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS, i.e. schools that sustains the transmission of of this or that culture based on the perceived superiority of this or that language, culture, and religion , so that the children will be saved from being washed away in the tide of cultural change brought by the children of the poor;

5) PUBLIC SCHOOLS, i.e. government schools that sustain the ideology of the ruling regime par excellence and en mass, deploys curriculum that passes down “Official Knowledge and Grand Narratives of One Particular Historical, Cultural, Scientific truths”, trains the children of the poor to be nationalistic and patriotic unquestionably, and used as a training ground for children to participate in nation-building as servants and appendages to the state capitalist system so that the children will grow up as defenders of the evolvingly-totalitarian state;  

6) “PROOF-OF-CONCEPT” SCHOOLS, i.e. well-funded “pulled-out” government schools to prove that public schools do work as a showcase of innovations and good management, as a way to show that selected schools can be saved from the failing public schools, and that a failing policy can be saved by a successful showcase of “smart way to schooling” ;

7) PARIAH schools, i.e. schools that beg for money from the government even to fix a roof or a toilet …  fit for a punishment haven for children simply because they are born out of the wrong race, class, or caste, and schools for those whose parents did not go to any of the schools above  …

which school do you wish you child to be schooled n ..?

What then must we do ? … to stop this conveyor belt of education and to give each child the right to be intelligent in a level playing field   …?


DR AZLY RAHMAN, who was born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York) doctorate in International Education Development and Master’s degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 300 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience spans Malaysia and the United States, over a wide range of subjects from elementary to graduate education. He currently resides in the United States.