Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quality education should be the priority

My parents sent me to study in an English medium school for a few simple reasons - the St Xavier's Institution was a premier school and they realised the importance of English. Both my parents were Chinese-educated and Taoists. It did not matter to them that SXI was a missionary school. That was in the 1970s.

Today, it doesn't matter whether our children are studying in a national school or a vernacular school, the fact is that the standard of English has dropped. It is so bad that many of our politicians, who talk so passionately of our local education system, are sending their kids to private or international schools. So, if they are so convinced that our schools are producing the best, then they should tell us why are they sending their kids to these elitist schools? Why aren't their children spending time with ordinary Malaysian kids? For that matter, we should also ask how many of these politicians study in a local university or did they get their education overseas too.

Why have our schools become mono-ethnic? In fact, why do our authorities even allow some colleges to remain almost mono-ethnic? Have our schools become more religious, as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said so many times.

The real issue is not about the kind of schools we have. Our priority should be to provide the best education to our kids. Let's provide our teachers with better salaries and allowances. Let's attract the best talent to teach our children. Let's keep politics out of schools.


Anonymous said...

Dear Datuk,

Excellent item and good analysis. Politicians have lot to answer. But dont bring Dr M into this. He had all the opportunity to rectify things in his 20 years of iron rule. He is not at all fit to quote about education, corruption, money politics etc. Please leave him alone and let us get out of his shadow. He has done enough damages.

joenathan said...

Dear Wong,
We already had the best teachers in our national schools even when the salary was pathetic in the 60s and early 70s,only when UMNOputras started malaynising and then islamising our national schools we lost all those dedicated chinese and indian teachers.UMNO wanted to make up the malay numbers just like the civil service and the forces,look what happened now?The civil service has gone to dogs and the forces esp the police force is riddled with corruption.I am not a racist but merely ststing the fact.So whats the point of increasing the teachers salary and keep putting in unqualified teachers of a particular race all in the name of ketuanan melayu,just to have a control at the expense of even the education excellence?

KTemoc said...

Datuk, your last para "The real issue is not about the kind of schools we have. Our priority should be to provide the best education to our kids. Let's provide our teachers with better salaries and allowances. Let's attract the best talent to teach our children. Let's keep politics out of schools is spot on.

doses of here and there said...

I would think that if we want to see our present and future kids to be well-versed in English Language,with Maths and Science aside, all other subjects except Bahasa Malaysia like economics, accounts, history etc should be taught in English too.

Whatmeworry said...

I agree with you 100%. Our education system has been going downhill for many years and yet those clowns we have in the govt does not have the scrotal gumption to admit it and rectify it.

The mistake was to do away with English as a medium of instruction in the mid 70s. We can all see the damage it has done to our so-called graduates.

The PM can do something good for a change by reintroducing English medium schools before he rides into the sunset in March 2009. Let the parents decide where they want to enrol their kids be it the, English medium school, chinese or tamil schools.

Like you, I was enrolled in a mission school even though my parents were not English educated. Now I have no choice but to enrol my son in a Chinese school for his primary education because the nat. type schools are not what it used to be. Damn those politicians who changed our education policies to suit their own agenda.

Anonymous said...

The standard of education, especially English, is so atrocious it beggars belief in a country which once had arguably the best educational stanrdard east of Suez. Every year, we churn out thousands of straight A students. Even more ridiculous is the number of 1A1 (which is supposed to be better than As, that's inflation for you). If the number of As is any guide, then Malaysias must be the most intelligent people on earth. Conventional wisdom tells us that we should be producing the most number of Nobel laureates, inventors and scientist in the world. Is that the case? No. Instead, our universities have slipped so far that we are now probably ranked with Papua New Guinea in the bottom rung (our minsters would probably say Papua is not that bad). Our students have become the butt the jokes when they attempt to utter a word in English. We trumpet to the world our high educational standards. We trumpet to the world how we have come a long way towards achieving educational excellence. Who are we kidding? Who are we bullshitting when a majority of the younger generation cant even string a proper sentence in English to save their own lives. How long must we kid ourselves? I think of all the races, Malays are mainly the ones in self denial. Many just dont want their kids to learn English. By so doing, they are doing a great disservice to their own people. They think they can get by with just learnign Bahasa Melayu. More than 90,000 Malay graduates are languishing because they do not know how to communicate or even read simple English. Is that what the Malays want. If that is the case, then I pity the race. They can go on wallowing in self-pity. Dont't they realise English is so important in a borderless world? The government, by extension, Umno, has destroyed at least three or four generations by downgrading English. By the way, I just got a C6 (or poor credit) in my MCE English in the early seventies. I believe I write or think better than present day PhD or masters holders. If I were to take the STPM English now I think I would probably get 111111111AAAAAAAA111111AAAAAA11111111. This is no empty boast.

BlueMoon said...

Bro Wong, I still think Dato' Mukhriz is right when he suggested that we have a single education system with BM and BI as first and second language of instruction respectively. Meanwhile mandarin would not be confined to chinese but also pupils of other races including malays. The same goes with tamil. Integration starts from school and this is the best formula for multicultural society. Singapore has done this and proven effective. The problem is when this issue is taken up by politicians who, in the first place, send their children to the international schools. Yet these goofs are talking about national unity and the needs to have uniformity in education. They look for singapore as a role model but when the same system is being proposed here, they strongly object it. They do not wish ordinary malaysian to benefit if such a system were to be implemented here. These clowns are hyppcrites from inside and outside.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Dr. Segaran.

Perhaps as the chief editor of the star, you should follow-up with your story to get the statistics using your unbiased investigative journalism skills. What says you Datuk?


BareSheen said...

I think easily 2 generations are screwed by our appalling education standard. For these poor kids, too late, too late. They have to fend for themselves. And god help them indeed.

The only thing that can be done is for future generations.

Dare we hope things will change?

I dare not. I shall plan for alternatives.

These hypocritical politicians who send their kids to international schools but then spout useless statements about what should be done for local educational facilities should just shut their gab than to utter their stupid statements and remove all doubt about their level of intelligence or hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Well said - we must challenge politicians advocating national schools to lead the way by switching their children to national school.

The root problem is NOT language. Even if English or Chinese becomes the main medium in the national schools, the standard will remain as it is - bad.

The root is elsewhere... e.g. leadership (focus on education? or politics? or religion?); quality & work output of teachers (or is education ministry just another avenue to reduce unemployment?); role of PIBG (independent or another association controlled by the principal?); lowering of standards resulting in AAAs galore (to make the mediocre 'feel good' so they can continue studying instead of lepaking? or to ensure good kpi achievement in ministry?)

Anonymous said...

Well said, WCW. Please go one step further. Please get the STAR paper to list down the federal and state ministers, by name, and where they studied in schooland university,and where their kids go to school. That will be a great piece of investigative journalism for your team. You may not be able to get a complete list, but start with some info,print it, and let the ballstart rolling for the rakyat to help fill up the info gap for you.

Unknown said...

Dear Wong,

So far, this is one of the best and most insightful piece on your blog.

i agree totally with you, especially on your reasoning on why our politicians sent their children to private and international schools if our schools are indeed so good. Your reporters should ask this question to those politicians and demand an answer. I REALLY WANT TO HEAR THEIR ANSWER.

You are spot on your take that our authorities have allowed some of our schools to be mono-ethnic. Not too long ago, a suggestion by the Selangor MB to allow some non malays into a particular malay college led to protests and demonstrations by the malays.

It cannot be denied that the quality of our national schools has declined. Just compare to our small southern neighbour and you will know what I mean.

In the end it is quality education that parents seek for their children. So it is clear now why your wise parents sent you to study in an English medium school. And so it will not be a surprise to me if you sent your daughter to a vernacular school.

alvin lee said...

As long as our government adpots a racial base approach in education, our country's educational standard will continue to go south.Is that simple.

malayamuda said...

Yes, our schools have become more religious...

they harp about religion everyday
they force non malays to stand at listen to Doa during assemblies, they force female students to use the tudung, the force male students to use track suits and not shorts during PE, you name it.......

but whats the end result ?

more disipline problems, more stories of pupils beating up teachers, more drug usage in schools, more pre marital sex and babies in school toilets, more racism, more drop outs etc

so we are not practising what we preach. we preach about religion everday and talk about the greatness of our religion BUT sadly WE DONT PRACTISE OUR RELIGION !!


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


It's always 'do what I say' (national school)
And 'not what I do' (international/ overseas school)
Because at the end of the day everyday
I just want to say, 'I told you so!'

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 051208
Fri. 5th Dec. 2008

Unknown said...

WCW equally guilty while polishing his master's shoes. He is part of the system too, like what the Malay says Lalang........ A lot of Malaysians has no respect for him.

remie said...

The damage began in 1969, when politics & nationalism entered the classroom. When English was jettisoned in favour of nationalistic BM. A whole regime of politicised textbooks were produced to feed a school system totally lacking & deficient in books in practically every subject even BM. Remember the times when we struggled to find the BM equivalent of words and simply mangled the English word and called the BM?

So, now we have 40 batches of our young citizens destroyed by a politicised education system. Except those saved by the Chinese venacular schools who fought all the way and against all odds to maintain standards.

Unfortunately, our mission schools succumbed and are a poor reflection of what they were 40 years ago.

Those who could afford it, sent their children overseas and at great expense. Our leaders largely did the same while preaching the high quality of our local education system.

They created a system that has no value outside Malaysia. Generations that have no opportunity outside Malaysia.

They created several generations that will forever depend on the Government for everything.

Such is our National-Type education system, today.

Stephen Doss said...

SXI Rocks :)

Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap!!

Yup, the quality of education in Malaysia is worse than cheap. I have seen with my own eyes and hear with my own ears, how schools are performing nowadays and I can tell you, it is crap.

My child asked me how come I can mix with other races when she look at my old school photos. She tells me that her teacher segregate them and tell the Malays that they are not to mix with the rest! Yup, I march to school and met the headmistress about this but she denies it but when I grilled her further, she kept quiet.

My child comes home with homework copied from the blackboard. She also have the answers to all the questions!! Apparently, the teacher will write the question and answer on the blackboard and get the kids to copy them. THAT'S ALL!! How lazy is that?? How idiotic is that?

This story about paying the teachers more and all.. is a chicken and egg story la!! During my time, my teachers were also not paid well but they taught every single one of us with dedicated and gusto! We didnt just learn what was in the textbooks but more! We learn how to be a decent human being! Now, you tell me, if the current teachers are to be paid more, can these teachers do what teachers during my era can do? For the love of God la, some cannot even construct a proper sentence!! That is how crappy our education is!

I can understand now why some parents send their children to a vernacular school. No doubt, the quality of English and maybe even Bahasa will not be terror good but hey! at least, these teachers in vernacular schools are passionate about their job and students! Ok.. they might whack your kid but that is how it was during my time if you misbehave or are hard to deal with. What is wrong with that?

Another thing that piss me off about our education system is the fact that the whole damn thing is in a big pot of mess! The rules and regulations are constantly changing. The system is constantly changing. WHAT IS THAT?? That is call no planning, no system no nothing but at the whims and fancies of some potato who happened to roll himself to that position of education minister!!!

amoker said...

More families are migrating out for the sake of their children.( i know 2 families of profesionals) Thousands of Johoreans send their children to Singaporean schools and they commute everyday. If this goes on, both national and vernacular schools will die a slow death as middle class Malaysians find refuge in real good education.

ChengHo said...

The education system was spoiled by Annuar the moment he stepped in as Minister of education . He was responsible to introduced his so called Nilai Nilai Murni and penerapan nilai nilai Islam in accordance to his whim and fancy.
Annuar introduced his bahasa baku and made english language to a minor subject.

Anonymous said...

The eduction system is destroyed by politicans. UMNO and BN over last 2 decades had been the destructive force. Opposition parties like DAP had been part of this destruction.

I hope everybody is happy now.

Unknown said...

Good afternoon Datuk,

Quality education is not only the priority, it is the right of every citizens. The government of the day should be responsible and is obliged to ensure that the education system should be able to develop knowledgeable, competent and socially responsible citizens.

However sad to say, in Malaysia our government is more interested in the self serving pursuits