Sunday, February 04, 2007

Primary Schools Comparison

I think we need to move on from the previous post, despite the record number of comments. I've been slowly reading through the new Education Blueprint and I want to start by examining the number of primary schools, in particular comparing the national primary schools and the national type primary schools.

For those who are not familiar with some of these statistics, let me lay them out. The number of national primary schools have increased from 4844 in 1990 to 5761 in 2005, an increase of 19%. In comparison, the number of national type Chinese primary schools (SRJK) have actually decreased from 1288 to 1287 in the same time period. The number of national type Tamil primary schools (SRJT) have decreased from 538 to 525 in the same time period. In other words, funding for new primary schools for the past 15 years have gone almost exclusively to national type schools. (There might have been some new Chinese primary schools built e.g. Wawasn or Vision schools and relocated Chinese primary schools such as Pei Chai and Tropicana)

In the same time period, the enrolment in national schools have increased from 1.8 million in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2005, an increase of 35%. Enrolment in national type Chinese primary schools (SRJK) have also increased by 11% in the same time period, from 580,000 to 650,000. Enrolment in national type Tamil primary schools (SRJT) have also increased, but only by less than 3% from 96,000 to 99,000.

While one can justify the increase in the number of national primary schools because of the large increase in the number of students enrolled in them, it is much harder to justify the lack of an increase in the number of national Chinese type primary schools given that enrolment in these schools have also increased. To think about it another way, there have been an increase of 70,000 students in the national Chinese type primary schools with no increase in the number of schools. While this 70,000 number doesn't seem large given that it amounts to roughly 50 additional students in each of the 1287 schools, it is important to realize that overcrowding in national type Chinese primary schools is a serious issue.

The new Education Blueprint also provides the number of low enrolment schools or 'Sekolah Kurang Murid (SKM)' which it classifies as schools with less than 150 students.

There are 1642 SKM for the national primary schools, 530 such schools among the national Chinese type primary schools, 329 such schools among the national Tamil type primary schools.

So what I did was to estimate the number of students enrolled in these SKM schools and take away these from the total enrolment of students in each type of school - national, Chinese and Tamil. I then divided these numbers by the number of schools for each type minus the number of SKM schools. I wanted to do this to get a sense of the average number of students per school for the schools with normal enrolments.

What I found was the following - There are approximately 520 students per school for the national schools, approximately 750 students per school for national Chinese type schools and approximately 250 students per school for national Tamil type schools. (not including the SKMs)

When I examined the number of teachers per school type (including the SKMs since the data doesn't distinguish between number of teachers in SKMs and non-SKM schools), I found that the average number of students per teacher was 20 in national Chinese type primary schools versus 16 in national schools and 14 in national Tamil type schools.

I don't know about our readers, but I find this situation at least a little lopsided. Shouldn't those tax-paying parents who send their kids to national Chinese type primary schools at least be given their fair share of government expenditure at the primary school level? (I'm not even going to discuss the situation at the secondary and university level yet)

Perhaps, I'm making a lot out of nothing given that the results that are being produced at the national Chinese type primary schools are still pretty good despite the large number of students per class (many over 50 and some even over 60 in certain areas). (One should remember that approximately 60,000 or 10% of the student enrolment in these Chinese type primary schools are non-Chinese students so I'm not only talking about Chinese parents)

But is the current situation of an increasing number of students in Chinese type primary schools but without any increase in the number of Chinese type primary schools sustainable? How many of the SKM Chinese type schools can one 'transfer' to urban areas where demand continues to be high?

Lastly, I think that Tamil schools have the most to worry about in the sense that these schools are the most poorly resourced and have the least amount of government as well as community support.


Monsterball said...

Hi Tony,
Fully agree we have to move on from the previous post…the previous discussion was getting borrrrrring….
First of all, I must make clear I’m a supporter of the SRJK(C) system , because what I have to say next may be controversial.

The government has actually been quite consistent for many years in what it has said and done. The SRJK(C) system continues but there is no automatic “right” for the Chinese community to have their children educated in a Chinese school. So, overcrowding in SRJK(C) is not an issue which the government feels it is compelled to provide a solution.

No truly new Chinese schools have been allowed to be build for many, many years. The “new” Chinese schools which you see are either merely additional new buildings or schools moved from another location. I know Malaysian Chinese will be very unhappy about the above statements, but its an accurate reflection of the reality, and its up to individuals how they consider this in their votes in the next General Elections.

I’ve travelled to many different countries before, and I must say I do appreciate the opportunity that we enjoy here with the SRJK(C) system. Malaysia is the only country in the world outside of Greater China (i.e. PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan) which has a full fledged Chinese school system. Singapore has a strong Mandarin language content in its education system, but that’s as far as it goes. In all the other countries which have significant Chinese populations, the most that you can get is access to Mandarin language lessons. Ethnic Chinese follow their national education system. Period. Thailand, Australia, USA, UK, New Zealand, you name it.

To sum up, yes I’m unhappy with the situation in Malaysian Chinese schools, but I also appreciate we have a unique privilege here.

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents worth. May sound a little controversial but I think Chinese and Tamil schools should be phased out by the government over a period of time irrespectuve of they're merits. Chinese and Tamil schools in the country promote division among the different races and every child should be educated at a national type chool. However, there are many things that we could learn from the Chinese scools (and posibly, the Tamil schools), so maybe, we should incorporate some of they're educational techniques and ideas into our national schools. As the previous poster has said, no other country outside greater China has a Chinese education system (apart from Malayisa), and there are reasons for this, the most important being national solidarity. This post will probably be met with a lot of anger and discontent by the Chinese community and supporters of Chinese schools, but I firmly believe for everyone to feel and think that they are Malaysians first and foremost, we should all go to the same school where the medium of instruction is the national language. There are many other things that can be done to promote national unity as well, but I won't go into them as this post is strictly regarding the primary school situation in the country.

Anonymous said...

To dkr,

NATIONAL SOLIDARITY was NEVER the reason why other country outside greater China not to have a Complete Chinese Education system. To understand why the rest of the world were not as successful as Malaysian Chinese in developing the chinese education, we need to first understand the history of chinese migrants. Those who went to US were mostly forced labour. They have no power nor wealth. However, those who migrated to south-east asia comprised of a wide spectrum of chinese population which included businessmen that sponsored education locally.

In Singapore, such chinese education was uprooted by the former PM Lee Kuan Yew due to political and "economic" reasons. Previously, the Nanyang University (not Nanyang Technological University) was a Chinese univeristy!

In Indonesia, likewise, chinese education was banned due to politically motivated reasons!

On the other hand, attending the same school and same medium (what the heck, having the same name) DO NOT guarantee national unity. A recent example would be the riots in Indonesia back in the late 1990's. Chinese citizens were blazenly targeted even though they all go to the same school and can't speak a word in mandarin.

Promoting unity is not by going to the same school or just learn the same language only. I can guarantee, even if such practice became a reality in Malaysia, implementation of racially-biased policy will always result in racial tension.


Anonymous said...

Dear JKng,

I have to disagree with you when you say that "national solidarity was never the reason why countries outside greater China not to have a complete Chinese education system". As you yourself mentioned in your post, Chinese education in Singapore was uprooted by the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew for 'political' and 'economic reasons. This sounds to me like he wished to homogenize the country under one national educational blueprint. If you look at any other country without a Chinese education system, the local Chinese interact and adopt the customs of the locals, and this is mainly due to the educational system that they go through.

You're argument about Indonesian Chinese is also inaccurate. In Indonesia, in the 1990's, the Chinese minority where targeted because they had monopolized businesses and the economy in general, not because they were merely a different race operating under similar names and customs. I agree that promoting unity is not ONLY done by making people go to the same schools, but I firmly believe that it's one way to homogenize the population and ensure that everyone feels and believes that he is Malaysian, and not just Chinese, Tamil or Malay.

Shannon James said...

Exactly why we need to insist moving to a voucher system and parental choice, where each child gets a certain allocated amount for education and parents can choose the schools they want to sent their kids to. This way, we wouldn't have the asymmetry in funding present, and wouldn't need fancy education blueprints!

John Lee said...

I find the only justifiable reason for preserving a segregated public school system is quality and stemming the tide of Islamisation. If you look at things, it's really ridiculous, claiming the Chinese and Indians have a right to segregate themselves in their own schools with public funds - and it's equally ridiculous that the best and brightest of the Malays segregate themselves in their own secondary schools in a similar way. How is this sensible at all? And how can you deny that such a situation contributes to greater national disunity?

The only reason I grudgingly tolerate the vernacular school system is because I recognise that a majority of national schools are totally unpalatable to most right-thinking people. I would really like to see a national school system that can get rid of the Islamists and restore some semblance of quality to our national education, because then we could do away with this excuse for segregation once and for all. Personally, I think this could be our education system's greatest failing.

Anonymous said...

i don't think vernacular schools are responsible for the lack of racial harmony. of course, several newspaper articles have done this recently, when considering the racial polarisation at local public unis. but my own experience is quite different. i went to a national-type school and all those years my closest friends were from different races. it was the moment i stepped into public uni that things changed. many of my peers and juniors have also described a similar experience. as long as there are different entrance requirements for public uni, there will be racial disharmony. even those of us who grew up in national-type schools, speaking each other's language and going to each other's home cannot remain that way when we leave school and find out what the nation really is like. very sad, but true.


Anonymous said...

To dkr,

"You're argument about Indonesian Chinese is also inaccurate. In Indonesia, in the 1990's, the Chinese minority where targeted because they had monopolized businesses and the economy in general, not because they were merely a different race operating under similar names and customs."

I don't know on how you could come up with such conclusions. But isn't it weird that all those wealthy Indonesians who are none Chinese mostly escaped virtually unscrathed amid the chaos.

myop101 said...


I found the ammo i needed to fire back at MCA for barking irritatingly.

if you are lost, you can refer to this MSM article:

lost girl said...

sorry to bother you, may i know where do you find the statistic of national type chinese primary schools? i've tried to find from MOE website but it only has the total number of primary schools. i want to know about the source so that i can cite it in my project. thanks a lot ya! hope to receive your reply...

Anonymous said...

i am so sorry to come out of nowhere but i really need some data and figures regarding primary school children in Malaysia. May I know where you get your data from or where can i get mine from? thanks