PETALING JAYA – Closing down vernacular schools in the name of national unity would not address the root causes of disunity, MCA said.
Its religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker (pic) said vernacular schools were often “unfairly blamed” for not promoting national unity.
He said there were many factors that could cause disunity, but blaming the education system would not solve the problem.
This was what happened when premier colonial schools were shut down in the past, which Ti said, had been a mistake.
“When it came to the topic of unity, vernacular schools would often come under the microscope and be unfairly blamed for not promoting national unity.
“However, how many have microscoped the national schools system and highlighted the myriads of practices and factors that have created a social and national divide from young?” he said in a statement.
Ti said if the belief became prevalent, vernacular schools would suffer the same fate as the English-language education system.
“In those days, the English schools were the premier schools in the country. All parents wanted their children to study in English schools.
“It was a ‘melting pot’ sought for by Malaysians until it was singled out for political attack.
“They were so popular even among Chinese parents that some vernacular schools began dying a natural death as they could no longer attract students.
“Chinese educationists at the time were very worried about the popularity of English schools.
“However, the English schools later became the target of nationalists who felt that such schools were remnants of Malaysia’s colonial past.
“We should try to fix what was wrong with our national unity agenda but not picking on a particular school at the expense of education. In the end education became the ultimate victim of politicking,” said Ti.
He said it was also wrong to say that people would only be united under one school system.
“(That) is equivalent to saying that if all Malaysians are converted to become Muslims, we will be united. That is a false analogy indeed.
“When it comes to unity, there is no room for oversimplification, as there are many factors affecting national unity,” he said.
He said instead of “disturbing” the vernacular schools, people should instead focus on the type of the education the students are getting.
“After the ever popular English schools were done away with, people went back to Chinese schools and now Chinese schools are slowly becoming the schools of choice.
“The question is where do we move from here? Not simply suggest a close down without a proper study or providing a better alternative!” he said.
Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim had recently questioned whether Malaysia’s vernacular schools promote unity and expressed his vision for multiracial “Bangsa Johor” schools, or Johor nationality schools, in the future. – The Star Online