Set up separate department to manage vernacular schools in ministry.

Fully aided Tamil schools are appealing for funds to build infrastructure in schools. One headmaster of a fully aided Tamil school in Johore appealed to the local Indian community for funds to build school sign board, repair toilets in dilapidated conditions, repair badly damaged badminton court and build rest area on the side of the school field. Why should a fully aided Tamil school appeal for funds? The local Tamil community cannot support the building of Tamil school infrastructure as seen in past 55 years. Do fully aided national schools appeal for funds to repair toilet and build school signboards? Why the double standards? In Selangor and Penang the state government has additional allocation for Tamil Schools managed by professionals. It is not the case in Barisan managed states.

All assurances that Tamil schools will be safeguarded by Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister seem voting buying gimmicks. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in Budget 2012 and 2013, had announced an additional allocation of RM100 million Tamil schools. But ministry of education is totally cut from Tamil schools and do not know how much to allocate funds to each school. They have to depend on MIC and NGOs to find out the needs of Tamil schools. This situation clearly calls for setting new department to coordinate the building, repairing and maintenance of Tamil schools. Even if MIC is wiped out of the political scene, the Tamil department in ministry of education will have all information on which school needs what.

The current system is all appeals for repair, maintenance and up grading of Tamil schools goes to MIC and not ministry of education. Looks like ministry of education is only for national schools? They have many departments to coordinate, plan and implement many programs and improvements for national schools. But Tamil schools and Chinese schools don’t have a single department to plan, coordinate and implement programs and improvements for them.  There is one single coordinator in the huge ministry of education to coordinate programs for 524 schools. Is it workable? Will Tamil schools improve under this sidelined and politicized education system?  Gimmicks and rhetoric cannot save Tamil schools from disrepair.

Whenever there is political pressure on Tamil School, ministry of education will call on NGOs for information and to coordinate. All these piece meal and one off actions and measures must stop. That’s why whenever Tamil schools need any infrastructure improvement they will seek the local community support and not ministry of education. The local MIC leaders will see that no educated and informed person can approach the Tamil school. If it happens they will inform the local UMNO leaders. Local MIC goons ensure that Tamil schools remain impoverished.

If we scrutinize the 15-year period covered by the 6th to 8th Malaysia Plans, we can see that Chinese primary schools received as little as 3.66% of the total government funding appropriated to primary schools even though they account for 21% of the total enrolment including 60000 non-Chinese (mainly Muslim) pupils. Meanwhile Tamil primary school enrolment was 3.51% of primary school pupils but the SRJK (Tamil) only received 1.32% of the total government allocations for primary schools. National have an overall enrolment of 74.86% but they receive 95.04% of the total primary school allocation.

Ministry of education must accord equal treatment to all schools and allocate funds on equal per student basis irrespective of national or vernacular schools. There must a department planning improvements and to uplift Tamil schools headed by Tamil educationist just like national schools. This department is needed to alleviate the low morale along with the physical facilities in the 524 Tamil schools. 

If the ministry is sincere in wanting to improve the standard of education in both national and vernacular schools, more non-Malays must be appointed to the education policy making positions. Teachers and senior officers of calibre must be recruited and appointed in teaching profession and all policy making bodies. The success of primary school education will strengthen the student’s performance in secondary and other levels. No more excuse that Indians don’t like to join civil service. It is a lame excuse which no Indian belief.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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