Friday, January 13, 2006

Religious National Schools

In a letter published in the New Straits Times yesterday, Kahisan wrote about the perceived conversion of national schools to religious institutions.
I am an old boy of Kajang High School and feel compelled to express my concerns in relation to the current situation at the school. I recently went to the school and noticed seven new signboards with religious verses put up at some expense. The image conveyed to anyone driving up to Kajang High School is that one was entering a religious school.
I have written earlier with regards to where to send my 1 year old girl when the time comes for her to go to school. While it may not be as important to many other parents, one of the most important consideration for me is to ensure that she is exposed to the multiracial culture and environment in Malaysia from a young age. However, if the progressive conversion of national schools to religious schools continues unabated, the day will come whereby I will have to reluctantly decide that national schools will no longer be an option for her.

Given that these "conversion" activities carried out often independently by the school administrators are well known to the Ministry of Education, the latter should take up the responsibilities of issuing the guidelines to these schools to ensure that the character of national schools are not altered for the wrong reasons. As Kahisan rightly pointed out:
Clearly the school administration had given little thought to the impact the signs would have on the non-Malay student population and their parents.

The Education Ministry, as a stakeholder in the national education system, has to ensure that schools are equipped to handle the expectations of students of every race who enrol in national schools. The ministry should also do its part to foster national unity and ensure schools appear friendly to all ethnic groups in the country.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, our honourable Minister of Education, I have heard you extol your vision of the national school system being the de facto preferred education system for all Malaysians, regardless of race and religion during on of the Oxbridge society organised forums. I implore you to walk the talk, and take the necessary measures to protect our national school culture which even our dear Prime Minister is reminiscing to ensure that it remains the fertile ground to foster national unity for young Malaysians instead of one which openly preaches seggregation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was from an all girls school in JB. It was a good school. Its pride and joy was the standard of English and the open mindedness of its students. We were all women but we were empowered women.

Suddenly...the new headmistress came and made Friday mornings compulsory Quran reciting days. It lasted for 30 minutes. Non-muslims were kicked out of the school hall and thrown into the science labs for "moral" classes which turned out to be chit chat time and rushing to finish homework time.

Sadly to say..our standard of English declined. No more are the women of our school empowered. Instead, the women our school became weak, feable and only knew how to submit to such insensitive practices of religion in the school.

The standard of the school dropped tremendously and no non-Malay in their right mind would want to enter that school anymore.

My alma matter gone down the drain with the introduction of insentitive religious rites...

Bigjoe99 said...

The incidents of religious zealousness on part of principal and teachers are quite common from personal experience. At first I thought that it was just the rare occasion but not so according to by hundreds of children of relatives, friends and aquintances.

I think the reason is a complex one, why do teachers and principal take on such religious bend? Teaching is a lof of work already, why do these?

I believe in the end, its about the lowering of the quality of the education system. Whether its in the management, staffing, the material etc. There is only one cure and that is meritocracy at all level including the post of Minister of Education. No other comprehensive solution will change the course of thing.

Tiara said...

Anon - SIGS? Same here.

daniel said...

I attended an old boy's reunion dinner at my alma mater some time ago. Many of us were quite peeved that they actually changed motto on the school crest into jawi and we didn't even know what it meant. The school choir which performed was basically a nasyid group.

Being away from our hometown for a while, I asked around and gathered that most townfolk regard it as a malay-religious school and not the sought-after government school it once was. It no longer produces the kind of results that would make any school proud. Most non-malay folks shun it in favour of the chinese srjk and sjk because of this.

Doesn't the government recognize the signs?