Archive for February 2012

Include Tamil schools in the mainstream education system

February 28, 2012

In Sept 2011 at the MIC AGM the party president Datuk G Palanivel made an announcement that 1000 matriculation seats will be offered to Indian students in private colleges and universities. When I raised this matter in senate the minister of higher education replied that there is no matriculation program in private colleges. My other two questions were:

1. Are this matriculation programs recognized by MQ&A; and
2. Why are these programs announced in political forums as a goody to attract votes and not provided as a right of Malaysian student

Both the questions did not get any response in the written answer sheet. The prime minister, in his speech at the Ponggal Festival celebration in Kapar, Klang on 26/2/2012, said the number of Indian students in matriculation colleges in the country would be increased from 559 currently, to 1,500 in the 2012/2013 session. MIC was elated and singing praises for the Prime minister.

From these announcements it is clear that offers to higher education centers to Indian youths are used as political bargaining chips in exchange for votes. This is in line with prime minister’s policy of ‘you help me I help you’. The more desperate the BN government is for Indian votes the more seats can be bargained. Therefore it is very important that Indian community or for that matter any minority community must stay relevant to the political development of Malaysia. Go for a political change to start new politics which is inclusive of us.

Building of Tamil schools are also announced in similar functions. There is no unit in the ministry of education that plans and implements any development or improvement for Tamil and Chinese schools. The information on the need for more new schools or relocation of existing schools is provided by NGOs who are concerned about mother tongue education. The ministry is only concerned about national type schools. Tamil schools are the unwanted orphans of ministry of education. The prime minister can announce the building of new schools but which units in the ministry of education that will ensure the schools are built. Eventually MIC and MCA will be given the responsibility to coordinate with various ministries to built or repair the schools. This is how the politically irrelevant MIC makes Tamil school subservient and docile. In the UMNO dominated and controlled ministry of education Tamil school have no representative to turn to. There will be one coordinator for Tamil schools in each state but this person is a junior ranking staff equivalent to a clerk who will subdued and will never raise any matter. This is how UMNO controls vernacular schools.

Prime Minister can make announcements in political platforms championing Tamil schools for political mileage. But nothing will be done by ministry of education. Tamil and Chinese schools survive because of the political pressure and voluntary work provided by NGOs. Tamil schools are here to stay and nobody can remove that. But Tamil schools must be more vocal, progressive and open minded to produce students who will do well in secondary schools. Therefore the greatest service Malaysian Indians can do to Tamil school is to throw out the BN government and get the new government to include Tamil schools in the mainstream education system.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan
28/2/2012

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REMOVE CLASSES NEED AN URGENT OVERHAUL

February 14, 2012

There have been calls to revamp and overhaul Remove Class for some time from various quarters but the ministry has not initiated any study on the effectiveness of this transitional classes. The ministry of education has brought about a sea change in the syllabus, pedagogy and medium of instruction in the schooling system but left out the remove classes untouched in the last 55 years. Parents, teachers and students have lot to say about the need to transform remove classes. But the ministry of education is not paying any attention to these concerns and grievances.

Students from vernacular schools who fail to obtain a minimum grade “C” for Bahasa Malaysia in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), are put in remove classes for a year before moving on to Form One. Pupils in Chinese and Tamil schools take BM papers of a lower standard in their UPSR. That’s why their grades below “C” are considered not on par with the grade “E” obtained by pupils from national schools.

In SRJK(T) Bukit Beruntung, Hulu Selangor, out of 72 students who completed standard 6 last year only 25 entered Form one while rest to remove classes. That’s about 65% of standard six students entering remove classes due to poor proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia. I am surprised that this very high number of Tamil school students going to Remove Class due to poor proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia did not raise alarm bell among Tamil school teachers, Headmasters and ministry officers for the past 55 years. The dropout rate among Remove Class pupils is high. If a Chinese remove class student drops out, he has many options to come up in life. Imagine the Tamil Students who drop out of Remove classes, where can he/she go in this racially segregated country. Tamil School headmasters must take remedial actions in school so that students are proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and will enter Form one and not remove classes. Tamil Schools were the bastion of MIC from 1957. They messed up the education of Tamil school children for their political survival.

Another weakness in remove classes is the teachers do not know the students mother tongue thereby creating communication problem between teachers and students. The poor communication hinders the learning and teaching for weaker students thus making the whole transition process ineffective. This creates the frustration in students and they don’t know where to complain. From here begins truancy, no interest in studies, vandalism etc. The students will then be blamed. Parents too are unable to help. Students eventually may drop out and join thugs; drug pushers etc and ruin their life.

Remove classes lesson plans must be restructured to capture student’s interest. Students are the key stakeholders. Unfortunately they don’t have any say in this matter. Since Remove classes are for weak and slow learners, the teachers must know student’s mother tongue and be specially trained to handle weak students. The gross negligence this far on the part of ministry of education is the single most contributing factor for the ineffectiveness of remove classes in improving the proficiency of Bahasa Malaysia and high number of dropouts. Teachers and headmasters in Tamil schools are obsessed with get 7As and neglect the weaker students. Weaker students are larger in numbers and therefore there must be strong focus on this group. The community must wake up to this realty and do the needful. We must stand firm in demanding the ministry of education to transform Remove classes into effective transitional and probationary classes. The community must wake up. It’s now or never.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan

14/2/2012

Malam Kebudayaan Bersama Pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat

February 13, 2012

Kenyataan Akhbar mengenai Tanah Perkuburan Masyarakat India Cheras yang terbiar

February 13, 2012

Kenyataan Akhbar & Respon drp DBKL – Mengenai Tanah Perkuburan India Cheras

Tamil schools need to transform to remain relevant

February 13, 2012

A friend of mine who is the chairman of SRJK (T) Bukit Beruntong, Hulu Selangor visited me and we were talking about a few things and our conversation straddled into Tamil schools. He was telling me that the district education department sends officers to check on the teaching and learning in schools. The officers are all Malays and they are sent to inspect and check on the teaching and learning in Tamil schools. It is puzzling as to how these PPD officers will know the quality and effectiveness of teaching in Tamil medium schools. I came to understand that these officers will talk to the teachers and browse through the teacher’s record book and glance at the students exercise and work books and make their recommendations. Teachers too know how to comply and get good recommendations being long in their trade.

The PIBG chairman spoke to these PPD officers about instances where students work book looks good with all the pass ticks but students don’t even know how to read and write. But it fell on deaf ears. No follow up and further inspection to verify the inconsistency. Last year out of 72 students, who completed standard 6, only 25 went to form one and the rest to remove class from that school. The Tamil School students who go to remove classes are supposed to improve and strengthen their Malay language skills. But they just end up wasting their time away because the secondary teachers who are all non Tamils don’t put in the extra effort. These students mostly come from poor or illiterate homes, where they don’t have the support at home. These remove class students are potential drop outs.  What surprises me is that nobody from Tamil Schools is complaining. Even complains about this sad state of affair to the organizer/chief inspector at the state level received hostile reaction. Looks like all are blissfully happy that they can receive their pay checks at the end of the month.

Tamil School students when they enter secondary schools face cultural shock due to the new Malay environment. It takes quite while to adjust to the new surrounds. Tamil Schools are oblivious and not bothered about this dilemma of students. Only those who come from educated homes or background adjust well. NGOs and many concerned citizens are doing some remedial work on this predicament. But Tamil school administrators, ministry of education and the ‘protector” of Tamil schools MIC are quite and still have ‘nambikai’ that the UMNO government will rectify the situation.  The MIC influence and traits must be wiped out of Tamil Schools to redeem the dignity and pride of Tamil education. In the past most Tamil School heads were MIC branch chairmen. They made Tamil Schools an extension of MIC patronage.

Tamil schools need to transform from its current form and must wake up from its complacency if they really care for their student’s future. Passing rate of Tamil schools students still hovers around 45% to 50% for even urban schools in smaller towns. Imagine the results in estate schools.  There must be more English and Malay taught and students must be able to speak sufficient Malay to be able to cope in secondary schools. Tamil Schools need to inculcate soft skills, speaking proficiency in Tamil as well as Malay and English. Unfortunately those who are passionate and mean well for Tamil schools are outside the education system.

One of the biggest setbacks of Tamil school is the non involvement of parents. Tamil Schools must find ways to get parents involved. Host more gatherings with parents with light refreshments and improve communications between schools and parents. Have prizes for parents who attend the most meetings and taking active part. Do what it takes to get mom/dad active in their child’s school. Now the problem in parental involvement is that in poor schools the parents are often working every waking hour just to survive. They have no idea what is happening to the children. That makes the matter very complicated. Well the great schools are those that make the student proud and come back to serve their alma maters. Headmasters must take this into consideration and make it happen.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan

13/2/2012

1CARE HEALTH SCHEME NEGLECTS THE POOR AND NEEDY

February 8, 2012

The 1CARE health scheme proposal is another grand plan to rob the sick and needy to enrich the UMNO cronies. In formulating the proposal government did not consult and dialogue with the stakeholders. This confirms the fact that government is out of touch with problems of ordinary folks. Government seems to be more concerned with securing lucrative deals for UMNO cronies and its leaders. Every other day Malaysians are watching the unraveling of one scandal after another. The 250 million National Feedlot Corporation scandals, the west coast expressway with 60 years concessions burdening hapless travelers and the RM900 million per annum illegal logging are the latest list of scandals that do not seem to bother the government. Now the government wants to rob the sick and needy with the 1CARE health scheme.

In the 2012 budget the finance minister allocated RM17 billion out of RM233 billion to ministry of health to provide health care. This allocation includes RM8 billion for the payment of emoluments and RM6.61billion for the purchase of supplies and services such as medicines, consumable items, maintenance and utilities and the balance on development of health care like building new hospitals. Hospital projects like the RM482 million abandoned hospital in Shah Alam still continued to be awarded under direct negotiation to UMNO cronies. Yet government has no money to provide proper health care to Malaysians. Last year the auditor general pointed that RM5.51 billion spend on unbudgeted payments due to purchase of poor quality goods and services and repurchases, penalties paid for negligence and non collection of government dues in the year 2010. In Malaysia, every time something is privatized, instead of bringing a better life to Malaysians, inevitably we are made to pay. Electricity, Pos, Telekom, tolled roads, Indah water are some instance.

Malaysia ranks number 151 of 193 countries in health care expenditure as % of GDP between the years 2000-2005. (http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html). Our health care expenditure is around 4-5% of the GDP every year. This shows Malaysia is one of those countries that under invest on the peoples’ health. Malaysia is ranked 90th in healthy life expectancy. On the whole Malaysia has underperformed in providing health care services to its citizens. Malaysian ranking on Health system attainment and performance is 89th out of 191 countries. Therefore they must invest and improve their productivity and competency in health services systems. Instead of increasing the health care expenditure, the government is passing the buck to the people who are already saddled with increased cost of living and stagnant salaries. Malaysia a natural resource and human resource rich country can provide much better health care service without burdening the people any further.

If government implements 1CARE scheme, what will happen to those who are jobless, poor and the old aged. Where will they go for healthcare? Under the 1CARE scheme government wants to assign the patient to only one doctor and the patient will not be able to see another. On top of that, the patient will only be able to see the doctor six times a year. And it wants us to pay 10 percent of our salary per month for this insurance. The poor workers salary is already suppressed by the presence of millions of foreign workers. 40% of Malaysian workforce is foreign workers and 34% of Malaysian workers live in hardcore poverty. How will they pay for the health care?

Malaysia had one of the best health care systems in the world before 1980s. But when the privatization spree started under Mahathir rule, all went down the drain and the focus shifted to enriching the greedy UMNO cronies. Government has abdicated its social responsibilities for the sake of creating BUMIPUTRA millionaires. But in reality the poor Malays are further burdened to support a few UMNOPUTRA millionaires. The prime minister’s transformation programs are all big talk with no results. 15 years of consecutive budget deficit shows that the government is misappropriating the revenue without any benefit to people. Instead the prime minister is busy spending RM500 for each poor but many Indian poor are left out too and RM100 for every student. UMNO and its allies have no political will to transform the health care. All they care is enriching themselves.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan

6/2/2012