View Full Version : Tamil education activists urged to form their own 'Dong Jiao Zong'

23-11-2002, 07:36 AM
6:13pm Fri Nov 22nd, 2002

<FONT SIZE="+1">Tamil education activists urged to form their own 'Dong Jiao Zong'</FONT>
Susan Loone

Outspoken Chinese educationist movement Jiao Zong deputy chairperson Loot
Ting Yee today called on activists who support Tamil education to organise
themselves systematically to defend their mother tongue.

At a book launch organised by the Group of Concerned Citizens and Malaysian
Tamil Educational Research and Development Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Loot
expressed his desire to see the Indian Malaysian community establish a 'Dong
Jiao Zong' of their own to defend Tamil education.

Loot, a well-known defender of Chinese education, criticised Prime Minister
Dr Mahathir Mohamad for "forgetting that Malaysia is a multiracial country
and that Indian and Chinese Malaysians have contributed much in

Be fair to all

"These two races had worked hard to construct railways, ports, roads and
laboured in estates. We also fought for independence.

"Mahathir tries to deny the contribution of both Tamil and Chinese
education. He should be fair to all in education," he told malaysiakini
after the launching of the booklet, The Cry, in the presence of some 80
people, at a Kuala Lumpur hotel.

The Cry explains how the government's move to use English in teaching Maths
and Science may impact on the poor to their detriment.

Survey results

Meanwhile, DAP national chairperson Lim Kit Siang, who was present at the
launch, revealed that Malaysia was lagging behind in mathematics and
science, based on the findings of international surveys on the comparative
educational standards of students in these subjects, as against their
counterparts in other countries.

Lim said the results of TIMSS-R (Third International Mathematics and Science
Study - Repeat), released in November 2000, showed that Singapore emerged
first in Maths and second in Science, while Malaysia was placed 16th and
22nd respectively out of 38 countries.

He added that although Singapore had issued a statement on the key findings
of the study, Malaysia had remained "totally silent in the past two years
since the release of the results".

In the light of the dismal results, he urged the Education Ministry to
convene meetings of parents in all primary schools - whether national,
Chinese or Tamil - to explain its decision to use English to teach Maths and

PRM vice president R Sivarasa, who was also present, said the controversial
move has diverted the attention of Malaysians from the real issue, which is
unemployment of Malay graduates due to their incompetence in the English

Sivarasa, a lawyer, said the Barisan Nasional government education policies
are the "real culprit" behind the fact that some 40,000 university leavers
could not find jobs.

"What happened to this issue? It is illogical to say that learning English
is the answer. We must first ask why the government policies failed," he


23-11-2002, 07:43 AM
4:52pm Fri Nov 22nd, 2002

<FONT SIZE="+1">Tamil NGOs show why they oppose language switch</FONT>
Susan Loone

Two non-governmental organisations in support of Tamil education today
launched a booklet in Kuala Lumpur to show that the teaching of Science and
Mathematics in English may have some benefits but the drawbacks for the poor
are overwhelming.

Published by the Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC) and Malaysian Tamil
Educational Research and Development Foundation (MTERDF), the 22-page
document entitled 'The Cry' explained in detail the implications of the
government's move to teach the two subjects in English on the poor.

GCC representative K Arumugam, who spoke on the reflections and overview of
the book, said the group was driven to do something concrete, not so much
because of their love for the language, but more for poor children, who will
become direct victims of the government's controversial move.

Arumugam, who teaches poor children under an NGO called Children Information
and Learning Development Centre, challenged the government to prove that the
policy will not undermine the poor and add more social ills to the Indian
Malaysian community.

Repressive laws

Arumugam, who spoke to about 80-odd participants at the event, criticised
the government's audacity to speak about equality when Tamil schools are
totally lacking in funding and allocation as they are mostly supported by
the community.

He said the government has eroded almost every right by imposing repressive
laws - from free speech, freedom of the press, assembly - now it wants to
take away the people's right to education.

The group's public opposition to the language switch has overturned the
perception by many quarters that only Chinese educationist groups are
rejecting the government's move.

Two Chinese educationist movements - United Chinese School Teachers
Association Malaysia (Dong Zong) and the United Chinese School Committees
Association Malaysia (Jiao Zong) - collectively known as Dong Jiao Zong,
have been vehemently attacked by various quarters for their stand.

...Meanwhile, another GCC spokesperson, Charles Santiago (left) said the group'
s social impact assessment of the new educational strategy will lead to
"exacerbation of poverty, creation of a higher drop-out rate in the school
system, worsening of social ills and intensification of the unequal
distribution of wealth within the community and various ethnic groups".

To justify his claims, Charles highlighted a study undertaken by MIC's
research wing Yayasan Strategik Sosial which indicated that Tamil school
children, from similar class and economic background, outperformed their
counterparts in national-type schools, in Science and Maths.

"Clearly the move by the government has the real potential of further
marginalising the Tamil Indian Malaysian community," said Charles, who is
GCC coordinator.

"Research done by YSS clearly indicates that children in their formative
years learn and acquire knowledge best in their mother tongue, a phenomenon
acknowledged by leading educationists and the United Nations," he added.

Defend DJZ's right

Meanwhile, MTERDF representative M Manogaran defended DJZ's right to protect
mother tongue language of their community.

He slammed the government for its inability to provide further education and
jobs to citizens who dropped out of schools.

He criticised ministers, especially MIC president S Samy Vellu and People
Progressive Party president M Kayveas, whom he accused of merely "toeing the
line" and following Mahathir's instruction blindly.

"Is it correct for politicians to make decisions for education? Why can't we
allow the educationists to decide what is best for education? Most of them
have said that Science and Maths are conceptual subjects and are better
taught in mother tongue," he said.


24-11-2002, 08:08 PM
Tamil groups hold peaceful march, cops told to register to enter hall

Susan Loone
4:52pm Sun Nov 24th, 2002

Police failed to deter a group of 200-odd people, mostly Indian Malaysians, from holding a peaceful march in Kuala Lumpur today to publicise their frustration and protest over the controversial language switch to teach Science and Mathematics in English.

The group, organised by the Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC) and Malaysian Tamil Educational Research and Development Foundation (MTERDF), came from Klang, Petaling Jaya and Selangor, began their 30-minute walk at the Kuala Lumpur Central Light Railway Transit station this morning.

They have earlier gathered at the Batu Caves Temple for prayers and a brief talk on Tamil education and the right to mother-tongue education.

Comprising representatives from various non-governmental organisations, political parties and student activist groups, the marchers chanted songs, slogans and carried banners with bold protest messages like "Yes to English but No to Science and Mathematics'.

Among those present at the walk were PRM deputy president Rustam Sani, vice-president R Sivarasa, treasurer Koh Swee Yong, Youth chief Faisal Sanusi, Parti Sosialis Malaysia pro-tem president Dr Nasir Mohd Hashim and secretary general S Arutchelvam, Keadilan supreme council member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar and Parti Rakyat Insan Malaysia pro-tem secretary general P Uthayakumar.

The GCC reps comprised, among others, K Arumugam, C Nadarajan and Charles Santiago. Others included several Chinese Malaysian student representatives from universities nation-wide and members of Chinese educationist movement Dong Jiao Zong, which was represented by Tan Yoke Suan.

Not disturbing anyone

More than 20 policemen and special branch officers tried to stop the group from completing their walk. At one point, the police requested that the organisers handed over their identity cards but the members argued that they were merely "conducting a peaceful march and had no intention of disturbing anyone".

After several negotiations, the police decided to accompany the marchers to the Federal Territory Girl Guides Hall in Brickfields, where a two-hour talk on the implications of the government's move to teach Science and Maths in English was held.

The police abandoned their attempt to disperse the group when Uthayakumar waved the Federal Constitution at them and cited articles related to freedom of expression and assembly.

Upon arrival at the hall, the police requested to attend the talk and to video-tape the session, but this was disallowed by the organisers who politely told them to register before they entered the hall just like everyone else.

Ended peacefully

Later, some plainclothes policemen were seen among the participants in the hall, which ended peacefully at around lunch time.

The action of the Indian Malaysian groups today continues to challenge the public perception that only Chinese Malaysian groups were against the language switch.

This perception has caused several quarters, including senior ministers and the mainstream media, to attack and label Dong Jiao Zong as "extremist and chauvinist', for their defence of mother-tongue education.

To publicise their protest further, the Indian Malaysian groups launched a 22-page booklet entitled "The Cry" on Friday to show how the sudden and controversial language switch will impact poor children from Tamil schools and marginalise them further.

Meanwhile, at the talk, former Tamil school headmaster Aruna Nagappan said that the language switch will cause the "natural death" of vernacular schools, as parents would naturally enrol their children in national-type schools from now on.

Language and soul

Aruna said schools exist not only to educate children but also to inculcate cultures and identity and to "take away one's language is to destroy one's soul".

Malaysian Youth Council representative Raja Ratnam, who hails from Kelantan, said that when schools in Kelantan and Perak implemented the language switch, the pass rates plunged to an "all-time low".

"In these schools, Tamil was the language of their dreams which is directly connected to their minds. When this language is contaminated, children lose their understanding of everything," he added.

C Mangai Yarkarasi, a homemaker from Klang, questioned why the Tamil school headmasters were silent about the issue even though they were aware of its implication on the community.

"Why were they mute at meetings, do they fear that they will lose their jobs?" she queried.

N Elanjalinan, a engineering student from New York , who went through Tamil education, but managed to score top marks overseas, said that Tamil was a part of Malaysia and Malaysians.

"People should not feel ashamed to send their children to Tamil schools when it is an education handed down from our descendants," he said.

"The whole concept of education is to strengthen the foundation, the ability to use reasons and logics. If you can think, you can do anything, you can go anywhere," he added.