Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Vernacular Schools

Written by johnleemk on 11:01:27 am May 3, 2005.
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Chances are, if you're a friend of mine, you know that among my most bitter and extreme hates are white pepper and vernacular schools. Why I hate these spawning grounds of, for lack of a better word, racists, is not commonly known, however.

Now, I actually attended a Chinese school in primary one. Okay, fine, my parents pulled me out because I had nightmares about it. Even so, I don't just hate Chinese schools for how they train kids only to live to study and memorise. That would be bad enough, but...

They produce racists. I'm not saying this is an intentional effect, but it certainly is occurring. I'm not saying all who leave Chinese schools end up this way, but a good deal do.

Now, naturally, you, dear reader, will be asking, what on earth are you talking about? Well, Chinese schools produce racists because of a few factors:



It doesn't take more than a bit of logic to realise that if all you see are Chinese, day after day, before long, you will begin to subconsciously discriminate against other races. Of course you won't be a racist outright, but the seeds of misunderstanding have been sown. Considering the rather outrageous discrimination in this country (although still incomparable to even the 1960s Southern USA), it doesn't take much to turn these young pupils into racial chauvinists.

The brainwashing doesn't help either. I'm not arguing against the inculcation of morals in students. Rather, I'm arguing against the fact that these students are not trained to question, think or discuss. This not only results in people who are for the most part, unequipped to handle the real world, but people who are quite chauvinistic as well.

The Chinese syllabus' separation from the mainstream system is not good either, because Chinese do not learn sufficient Malay, which can be quite detrimental and lead to further inter-racial misunderstandings. Not only that, but this separation has also led to to other side of the coin: while the Chinese see only Chinese, the Tamils see only Tamils, and Malays see only Malays. This can hardly be good for racial unity.

Now, of course, the largest and loudest calls for preserving vernacular schools come from those seeking the preservation of the right to learn Chinese. What I find so hilarious about this is that it seems no one has ever considered the possibility of teaching mother tongues in national schools. At least, not until the government proposed it.

Of course, parents argue that learning Chinese is not enough; students need to use it to. Therefore, they call for the teaching of as many classes as possible in Chinese. Well, excuse me, but last time I checked, Malay is our national language. Even when it is not Malay being used as the medium of instruction, Chinese educators still find something to complain about. Case in point: the hubbub about the usage of English in Science and Mathematics classes.

Vernacular schools cannot continue if we are to see true racial unity in Malaysia. The early years between age 7 and 12 years are the most important for the formation of people's minds. If there is no interaction between cultures, how can we move forward in terms of racial integration? It's not possible. Teach the mother tongues in national schools, and don't continue down the path of separation.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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