Are our national schools losing their appeal?

Earlier this week, Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Mohtar Radin spoke on the need to set up a multi-stream school to further promote unity.

The matter caught the attention of Twentytwo13’s managing editor Pearl Lee, who shared her thoughts on the news website Getaran.

Bung had envisioned a school where students would be housed under one roof, and share common facilities including hall, canteen and field, in the name of promoting unity.

However, Pearl said Bung forgot (or perhaps was not advised by his officers), that such a school already existed. They are known as Sekolah Wawasan.

“A friend, whose daughter attended a Sekolah Wawasan in Subang Jaya, revealed that the sharing of common facilities in those schools was in fact, non-existent,” Pearl wrote.

“The students don’t eat in the canteen together. There are separate recess times. In fact, the canteen is too small to fit everyone together,” said Pearl’s friend.

She went on to say, as the subject matter was about unity, it was important to note that the enrolment rate of non-Malay students in national schools was dropping.

She said over the last decade, Chinese vernacular schools were becoming more popular among Malay, and Indian students. There are already talks that these schools would soon become national schools.

“Malay parents want their children to master a new language. Sending their kids to Chinese vernacular schools is slowly becoming the norm, despite them having to fork out more for tuition and ‘donations’,” said Pearl.

She added non-Malay parents have used the excuse of the alleged sub-standard teaching quality, dilapidated, or outdated facilities, and too much emphasis on Islamic teaching, as reasons to shy away from national schools.

This, she said, was the reality of how things were in our primary schools.

“If the powers that be want unity to take centre stage in schools, it’s time to ensure that our schools are racially diverse.

Pearl said education stakeholders should re-evaluate the current education system and make improvements, rather than introducing a new ‘Unity Concept’ school.

“They must ask themselves if the system being adopted by our national schools is still in line with our national education policy.

“More importantly, is our current system fulfilling the needs of the nation – encouraging cultural, social and economic growth for Malaysia?”

The clock is ticking.

To read the column, visit www.getaran.my