The Malaysian government hopes to see a single schooling system but that can only happen if the people agree to it.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said a single schooling system will promote unity.
“That is our hope. But it depends on politics – the politics of the extremists and racists who favour race over nationalism. That is our challenge,” said Dr Mahathir.
“We have national schools that use the national language but we also have Chinese and Tamil schools as they are the wishes of the people. We don’t want to deny them (the people) their rights to learn in their mother tongues.
“But since we have three schools, unity is difficult to achieve.”
“Nevertheless, we plan to have these different schools on the same campus. They can carry on with their respective languages but activities like sports and assemblies will be together and the national language will be used.”
Dr Mahathir was responding to a question by senior project manager Tay Hock Seng during a dinner with over 300 Malaysians at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta last night.
He said the government could not do away with vernacular schools unless “the people asked for it” and agree to only use one language.
“If that happens, it will make unity easier.”
Dr Mahathir admitted the education system is outdated and students still rely heavily on teachers despite it being the IT age.
He said the government was looking at experts teaching students via discs or thumb drives and for teachers to become facilitators instead.
“We are evaluating the education systems in countries like Japan and Germany where students graduate and meet industry demands.”
Tay, who is from Bukit Beruang, Melaka, but has been living in Jakarta for the past five years, told Twentytwo13 he hoped to see a change in the people’s minds and education system.
“One important point is when Dr Mahathir said we should stop being racist and think as Malaysians. In this sense, the change must come from the people.”
“It’s good Dr Mahathir is aware our education system is outdated. At least the doctor has diagnosed the symptoms!
“Children need to be taught how to think, collaborate, learn public speaking and entrepreneurship. Memorising is not the proper way. My eight-year-old son, Joshua, studies in a primary school in Malaysia and my question to Dr Mahathir was for my son, present and future generations.”