Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Disconnect Generation?

A former Director General of education in Malaysia has opened up his mouth and claimed that racial segregation can be reduced by shortening the number of years a kid spends in primary school. At first, I thought that this was interesting, and I wondered how it would work. If it could work, maybe we should give it a try. This was until I read the rest of the argument.

His suggestion was based on the 'hypothesis' that since there are many different types of vernacular primary schools in Malaysia, it encourages racial segregation by keeping the kids seperated during their formative years. So, by extension, if we reduce the number of years in primary school, we can hopefully get them all to integrate for more years in secondary school.

It's not going to help. Yes, the students from the vernacular schools will get integrated in secondary schools. However, the government removes many of the Malays from public secondary schools into the numerous MRSM, SMS and other fully residential schools like MCKK and TKC. So, yes, the vernacular schools polarise the races at a primary school level, but the government continues to polarise the races at a secondary school level. Quid pro quo. Shortening primary schooling and lengthening secondary schooling will not help matters in any way. It fails logically. Pffffttt!

Now, if we can just get along with the idea that racial segregation in Malaysia is here to stay, and stop hiding under the pretense that we are trying to integrate people, the plan may not actually sound half bad. Shortening the number of years in primary school is a good idea. There is a lot of time wasted in primary schooling while we try to cram a little too much into upper secondary schooling. However, doing it under a racial pretense is just brainless.

I sometimes wonder if the current crop of leaders we have were born stupid or that there is a generation disconnect. Many of our leaders were born pre-Merdeka and also pre-NEP. So, a lot of them grew up under a very different political and educational system from the rest of us. This might result in them failing to truly comprehend the causes of the problem. They do not understand what it was like growing up under the modern Malaysia.

They do not understand how it feels like when you are asked by your teacher to put someone who doesn't debate well onto your school debate team in order to show integration. They do not understand how it feels like to see your friends being given application forms to the best schools in the country and you being denied the forms even though you're a much better student. Heck, even many non-Bumi students who went to vernacular schools couldn't possibly understand this. So, I don't know how the old farts at the top could.

The problem with the racial polarisation in Malaysia is entirely due to government policy. There is never going to be a solution to the problem until the government wakes up and changes it's policy on racial preference in Malaysia. So, instead of pretending to do something, either actually do something about it, or just admit that there is a problem and learn to live with it.


Dan said...

i don't get it. the time when i was the least racist was when i was in primary school. back then, we couldn't care less about race; we all got along and played police and thieves and all sorts of other things together.

suddenly, we were separated into secondary school and poof. all our malay friends dissapeared. we were wondering where they went.

suddenly, i met a whole lot of them in pre-university. with a whole new mindset of "them-vs-us". that was very very saddening.

i agree with you shawn. it's time to stop hiding behind the pretence of 'racial integration' and accept it for what it is. scared people retracting into their turtle shell.

nonetheless, i do support shortening our primary and secondary school education. i remember those days i wasted getting into gang fights and then having identity crisis about which gang to side because i am mixed.. then i get to cambridge and discover i am older than everyone else around the world in my course.

reduce the schooling years and teach more! i had too much free time in school! grrr!

weishen said...

Hmm...Identity crisis. Stand in the middle and let both side whack u!! Lolz...

Dan said...

don't be stupid, weishen.

Anonymous said...

abolish venacular school.... that will help

Shawn Tan said...

that's not logical when the children who experience the racial segregation the most are not the ones in vernacular schools but the ones in national schools?