The Prime Minister’s endorsement of the constitutional rights of Malaysian Chinese and Indians to have their own vernacular schools as part of the national education system should appease those still in doubt about the egalitarian principles of social justice espoused in the concept of 1Malaysia. It should also placate the groups that question the government ‘s sincerity in ensuring that the country’s multiethnic cultural heritage is symbiotically sustained, and remove the fear of domination of one group over the other.

Some will of course persist in seeing the dual school system as an obstruction to national unity and the establishment of a truly Malaysian identity. Their argument is that an education system which segregates children linguistically from a young age does little to foster greater inter-ethnic interaction. Students who think and learn in one language will find it difficult to integrate with those from another stream. Besides the differences in syntax and phonology, languages carry differing world views and cultural associations through their lexicon, idioms and expressions all of which lead to the cross-cultural gaps in communication.

A more cogent argument is that the national type schools have a separate curriculum and employ different teaching methodologies from the national schools, creating an educational imbalance in the academic achievements of students across the country. Maths, for instance, has traditionally been the strength of Chinese schools because of the particular methodology developed in the Chinese language and culture. Recently, allowing the vernacular schools the option of teaching Maths and Science in their own medium of instruction was perceived as giving them an unfair advantage over the national schools required to switch back from English to Bahasa Malaysia.

If the country’s dual school system is to develop into a viable model driven by the common ideal of excellence and goal of unity, it has to be guided by an education integration policy that sees greater synergy and resource-sharing between the national and national-type schools. Efforts to reduce the segregation inherent in schools where there is a predominance of one ethnic group must be more aggressively pursued at the federal and state levels. School principals must be given the leeway to initiate unity efforts unhampered by chauvinistic school boards and unhelpful government officials.

Besides organising district and state level sports and co-curricular activities that bring together students from the national and national type schools, the teachers with different subject and language specialisations can share their best practice at common workshops and seminars. Ideally, senior subject teachers should be given short periods of apprenticeship in different schools  in order to acquire and impart  new ideas and techniques. School principals should interact more regularly to share their expertise and experience.

The idea that change and reform must be top-down must be replaced by initiatives from the ground as the schools advantaged by well-qualified staff, superior academic achievement, prestigious urban location and generous financial support reach out to help the less fortunate institutions. This is the time for the vernacular schools which have a tradition of excellence to show their sincerity by opening their doors to their brother and sister schools in a gesture of peace and unity. A start can be made by initiating a training programme for language teachers to teach the vernacular languages in schools across the country.

The dual school system can be one of Malaysia’s greatest success stories if within in there can be initiatives to turn it  into a fully integrated education policy that unites rather than divides the nation’s people.

5 Responses to “”

  1. 1 ninitalk
    January 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm


    Tai Zee How
    Sadly, the core mischief that bred the termites within our education system was none other than the quality of the teacher themselves. It used to be privilaged to be admitted into teaching proffesion , where now, high school leavers unwi…llingly opted to teach when other careers paths were brutally denied.

    An established institution which offered a wholistic package of training, distribution, settling, salary, promotion of teachers resembles great features of a control market. A control market severly discourages competition, initiative and innovative.

    As you had mentioned about upgrading the quality of teachers in various way, sharing teaching method, apprenticeships, the underlying problem was the passion of a person being an educator. Lack of enthusiasm always serves as a great deterence for pursuing the course of being an excellant teacher.

    The state government had invited me to provided seminars on handling music ensembles to my learned school music teachers. What pierced into my heart was the fact that most of them are not interested in music at all, hence, i did not put on hope that my experiences were being utilised in the seminar.

    Pertaining to the advantage of certain teaching method comparing national and national type school, reform should be made in the federal level, not in term of syllabus, but the method of teaching. Perhaps its the ministry that should muster the advantages of chinese way of teaching mathematical and restructure the entire teaching technique to be practiced throughout the nation.

    Perhaps, the better way for upgrading the general standard of educator is to let go of a communism mentality and allow the proffesion to be a free market one. In the UK, graduates who are interested in teaching may choose to pursue a bachelor of Education degree from various institution from Oxford to Reading. Your end results and academic achievement will be the determining factor for your job recruitment. Schools were given autonomous power to select their academic staff, and to increase their salary.

    Despite that not every BO Education graduate were of the same quality, at least, they were those who were passionate about being an educator.

    my humble opinion
    zee How

    Tai Zee Kin
    Aye Datin. Lets hope that the dual system could be come a distinguished uniqueness of the country.

    “There are thousands of ways to teach but only one way to learn”

    Bernard Eng Khim Sheng
    after 50 years, we still do not know what we want. demolish vernacular school system will be almost impossible. integrate it more wawasan school and mushroom it might be a way.

    making it back to Bahasa certainly make me frustrating. imagine… university students nowadays hardly know how to make an English sentence on their own. this is very serious when you are talking students from rural area. so what is the problem back in rural area?

    I just feel sad that government is not strict to the policy and rule. playing the rakyat like lab rats. please be mature and step down. let us take over your place. my humour closing. haha!

    Halimah Mohd Said
    By “us” you mean PCORE Bernard? We can certainly start the initiatives. Would you and your group like to draw up some concrete proposals to present at the Youth Forum?

    Aziz Abu Hassan
    The teaching profession has to be more rewarding and respected than its current status of “profession of last resort”. My generation revere and respect our teachers. In Canada, teachers earn just slightly less than the teachers; I believe i…t’s the same in Australia and other developed countries where the education system is very good. Only with good teachers can the education system become good. MOE & MOHE must plan for a common strategy to make the teaching profession a respected & rewarding profession. Teachers then won’t devote their time to recruiting students for tuition.

    Our neighbours, Thailand & Indonesia, have only one language for all their schools. Why can’t we revert to English as the medium of learning? To be global & a knowledge economy, only English can enhance our competitiveness. Being well verse in English does not mean we are not nationalistic. How come my generation and the present set of leaders does not have any problems with mixing with the other races? It was the education system of our time that bonded us together. Just have one national type school with English as the medium of instruction and making BM and another language as compulsory subjects? Or make Tamil & Mandarin as additional compulsory subjects?

    Halim Hassan
    हिन्दी अनिवार्य बनाने के लिए जब भी भारतीय ऐसा नहीं मास्टर कर सकते हैं?

    Halimah Mohd Said
    Halim YENNA DAI!

    Tai Zee Kin
    Mr Halim : lol that’s why i always suppose that google translation is unreliable… hahahaha

    Halimah Mohd Said
    Aziz – they will never revert back to English medium national schools, that’s for sure! The national language is here to stay as the medium of instruction in the national schools.

    But they can certainly strengthen the teaching/ learning of E…nglish with effective methodologies and excellent English teachers. And teach one Arts subject in English for wider exposure to thinking, reading and writing in English

    Aziz Abu Hassan
    Actually, all we need to teach children is “how to think” and “how to reason”. School should be a fun place to be since children (and even adults) learn best when they play!

  2. 2 Gopal Raj Kumar
    March 27, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I tend to agree wholeheartedly with Aziz Abu Hassan about teaching our children to think first. At the same time I must admit I simply could not help laughing at your response to that silly post by Halim Hassan with his Hierogliphics in the Hindi and Chinese scripts.

    English as a medium of communication is useful to Malaysians simply because it is a language all races are familiar with albeit in varying degrees of fluency and one that has universal utility and application.

    It is also convenient as a second or first language for the same reasons I have suggested above. However as in India and Pakistan (two former British colonies where much of the English language and its vocabulary is said to have developed) the English language is often identified with a painful period in the country’s history and the humiliation of its natives. Many people tend to associate the language with the tools of oppression and suppression of their own indigenous cultures which hurts to this day.

    Having said that, policy makers I think must be decisive and assist with the change you speak of thats required ( if thats what you are indeed suggesting) through the introduction of the English language.

    Something as important as teaching of a language (especially one that is considered by many to be foreign)should not be left to individuals or private organizations to decide but to bold government initiatives to lead.


  3. 3 ninitalk
    March 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Not the “introduction of the English language” but strengthening its teaching/ learning in the school curriculum. As I say in my latest posting, Vice-Chancellors especially of public universities must be supported for wanting to improve the English language proficiency of their undergraduates who are entering the job market. My argument is that English will further enhance their academic work and communication skills as it exposes them to good models of written and spoken English.

    English has been in the national education system forever but its role and function keep changing as it is seen to be in competition with Bahasa Malaysia. I’ve always urged for bilingualism at the highest levels of proficiency.

  4. 4 cowboy malaysia
    May 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I don’t believe in a dual school system. There should only be one type of govt school for all and in these schools, make everyone learn all the three main languages – BM, mandarin and tamil! then only will we have a one malaysia unity plan in place for the next generation onwards…

  5. 5 ninitalk
    May 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Neither do I cowboy malaysia!

    But we have to be realistic bearing in mind the provision for vernacular education in the Federal Constitution. I’m arguing for effective measures for an integrated dual school system which I believe can be achieved with collaboration and cooperation from all parties. What we want are well educated citizens with an excellent command of the national language, English and their own mother tongue to serve their different needs.

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January 2011


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