Upgrade vernacular schools – Academicians

“Vernacular school system at secondary school will indirectly minimise racial integration and patriotism in a multi-racial community to the younger generation.”

(Bernama) – Several improvements need to be carried out in the education system, especially the vernacular school system, with the objective of fostering solidarity among the people and unity of the various races in the country, noted an academician.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Upsi) Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs and Alumni) Datuk Dr Junaidi Abu Bakar said the government needed to review the syllabus and subjects for all schools, including private and international schools.

“The government’s action in maintaining vernacular schools should be accepted by the people.

“At the same time, the government has to ensure vernacular schools give emphasis to subjects as such nationhood, Bahasa Melayu, History and Civics/Moral Studies, and these subjects should be made compulsory for every pupil each year, and they must pass them in the examination,” he told Bernama.

To empower national education, the government on June 13, decided to maintain the vernacular school system, in line with the 2013-2015 Malaysian Education Development Plan.

The decision was made, following a demand by 130 Malay and Muslim non-governmental organisations that the government consider the implementation of only one school system to address racial polarisation in the country.

According to National Education Policy Research and Planning Division data, as at April 30, there are 1,294 National Type Chinese Schools (SJK) and 523 SJK Tamil schools with a combined student population of 658,137.

Malaysian Muslim Consumer Association (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said a study by the association with several Chinese and Indian community leaders found the creation of school streaming as a hindrance to efforts to unite the people of various races in the country, since Merdeka.

Junaidi, who is also a political analyst, proposed the vernacular school system should only be implemented at an early stage of education, that is, at pre-school and at primary school only.

“At secondary school level, there is a need to have only one system that is the national secondary school with the aim of uniting all races,” he said.

He said National Type secondary school which specialised in catering to a certain race was like a wall hindering efforts to unite the races in the country.

He said the implementation of a single school system to educate pupils on the elements of nationhood, history and noble values would lead to better understanding among one another.

“Vernacular school system at secondary school will indirectly minimise racial integration and patriotism in a multi-racial community to the younger generation.”

Junaidi felt the government, in continuing to use a vernacular school system at the secondary level, would further widen racial relations and create an attitude of not respecting the Rukun Negara and the Federal Constitution.

“At the same time, exemption on the use of Bahasa Melayu as a medium of instruction at National Type secondary schools also to some extent, eroded the importance of Bahasa Melayu as the national language,” he said.

Not only was it against the position of Bahasa Melayu as the national language, it is also a platform to unite the people and as the official language, it should be used in all official matters such as education, legislation and organising of official events.   

West Malaysian Malay Teachers Union president Mohamed Sabri Mohd Arsad said the emphasis on Bahasa Melayu as the unity language and leading language in the country was very important, without neglecting English as the second language and other languages as elective.

Apart from that, focus should be given to subjects which could promote unity and national integration of all races in the country, such as History, religion, Moral Studies/Civics.

“Today, parents and schools are emphasising more on subjects such as Science and Mathematics, without giving due focus to build character and stronger patroitism in schoolchildren,” he said.