Tamil schools need to transform to remain relevant

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

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