"What does this say about the Malaysian education system?"
thxs to SirG for highlighting this column in another thread.
Syed Nadzri on Tuesday: Not flattering to our school system
DEPRESSING is just one of the many words to describe the picture on Page 16 of the New Sunday Times the day before. Look at those poor children barely awake in the schoolbus ó all for the sake of going to school in Singapore. A different country. A different system.
According to the accompanying story, more than 5,000 Malaysian students cross the Causeway every day to attend school in Singapore, and their day starts as early as 3am since they need to beat the traffic congestion to arrive in time for class.
To register a Malaysian student in Singapore, parents have to pay a biennial donation of RM2,270 to the republicís Education Ministry, in addition to the monthly school fees ó RM204 (primary school), RM295 (secondary school) and RM635 (junior college).
Textbooks are quoted in Singapore dollars. On top of that, thereís the schoolbus fare ranging from RM180 to RM300 a month.
Thatís not all. Thereís sleep deprivation to contend with, which some of us know only too well, even as adults.
Is this all worth it? Look again at the expressions on the childrenís faces ó itís not only that none of them are looking into the camera and smiling (something any normal Malaysian child of the same age would gladly overdo if the picture were taken outside a school in Puchong), they seem to be suffering.
What does it say about Malaysian schools? It doesnít matter if it involves only 5,000 or 10,000 students, or as some would argue, only a small fraction of the total student population. But whether we like it or not, it is a reflection of confidence in our own education system.
It is understood that many of these children are not even enrolled in premier schools in the republic, only the neighbourhood schools located mainly in and around Woodlands. Sad.
And over here we have our leaders talking about making national schools the schools of choice for all Malaysians. For some reason, the message will never sink in ó otherwise how do you explain the preference for the Singapore school system, which to me is not vastly superior?
At least thatís the impression I got during the week-long programme I attended in the republic last year as a visiting editor. The only difference is English is used more extensively there.
But Singapore schools are not the only ones putting a dent in the image of national schools. In this country, private schools and, in some cases, international schools, are chosen over them.
Over the years, many Malaysian parents have clamoured for their children to be allowed to attend international schools.
Some have sought the intervention of senior politicians while others have cajoled and even begged the authorities to lift the bar.
But the Education Ministry has stood firm, arguing that Malaysian children should go through the national system, side by side with other Malaysians.
At present, only foreigners and locals who have studied overseas for several years are allowed to attend international schools.
But Malaysia, currently with 33 international schools and 15 expatriate schools, wants to attract St Andrews and Harrow International to set up schools here.
As for private schools, they are becoming fashionable, especially in the Klang Valley and among the richer families, because although their curricula are controlled by the Government, they are given leeway in many areas and they use English more than the ordinary national schools.
It surely is not cheap to get a place in these private schools, many of them providing deluxe facilities like swimming pools, air-conditioned classrooms, music studios and state-of-the-art computer labs.
These and quality teachers apparently are the things that parents donít mind paying for. Again, it is a matter of preference.
Thatís why when a parent approached me last week suggesting that newspapers highlight the "unfair" decision by a private school to increase fees, I told her: "Itís not that you donít have a choice."
But by far, the worse reflection of our school system is when we know that the very people clamouring for national schools are the ones sending their children to schools abroad, especially in Britain and America.
So I repeat my question: What does this say about the Malaysian education system?
my comments :
I hope the media and the public will continue to bring up this issue becoz this is the one most important issue which decides the future of the country. The authorites need to realize that a serius overhaul is needed and nothing will change until the people sitting in the ministries and state education depts and the headmasters change their MINDSET.