Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Angers to the deception of Malaysian Chinese education

Chinese education problems: Real solutions needed

Pauline Wong
newsdesk@thesundaily.com
KAJANG (March 25, 2012): The anger and frustration of Chinese educationists and the community over the decades-old problems faced by Chinese schools boiled over today.

This was manifested in the treatment meted out to Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong when he attended a rally organised by the United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong) here.

Wee was not only heckled and jeered by a rowdy crowd of over 7,000 people at the New Era College where the rally was held, but someone even managed to throw a punch at him as he was leaving the event.

Fortunately, due to the cordon of police personnel around him, the full force of the punch was deflected and Wee only suffered a glancing blow on his left cheek.

Despite the incident, Wee was seemingly calm when he spoke to reporters at a press conference later, saying he was saddened by the way the crowd had become emotional.

“While we do not expect cheers or applause from them (the crowd), the whole purpose of attending this rally is to listen to the people,” said Wee, who believed the crowd was made up of mostly opposition supporters.

Earlier, on his arrival about 11am, Wee had been met by a ‘hostile’ crowd and had to be protected by about 20 uniformed police and Rela personnel who formed a human wall around him.

Even after he had sat down, Wee was booed at every time the Education Ministry was mentioned in the speech by Dong Zong president president Yap Sin Tian who lashed out at the ministry for failing to solve the problems which have festered for over 40 years.

Among them, the lack of teachers in Chinese primary schools, which has been a sore point among its educationists for many years, made worse by the government placing non-Chinese speaking teachers as stop-gap measures.

Yap said as far back as 1968, the Education Ministry was on record in Parliament as admitting that Chinese schools faced a shortage of 1,172 teachers.

“This problem has never been resolved and remained the same for over 40 years. Over the years, many senior officials continue to say that the shortage would be resolved, but nothing has materialised,” he said.

“The Education Ministry today continues to say it needs to gather information about the problem before anything can be done, but the fact is, the ministry is in possession of the most up-to-date and complete information.

“Therefore, it can be concluded that the ministry does not intend to settle the problem, not because of the lack of ability, but the lack of will,” Yap said.

The rally later passed four resolutions presented by the Dong Zong standing committee.

They are, for the Education Ministry to :
  • immediately transfer out all teachers who do not have the required SPM Chinese language qualification from Chinese primary schools;
  • conduct special courses for Chinese language teachers who have taught Bahasa Malaysia or English for at least three years so that they are qualified to teach all three languages;
  • reform the teachers training syllabus so that more qualified Chinese-speaking teachers can be trained to fulfil needs of Chinese schools; and
  • review the Education Act to ensure vernacular schools are accorded equal status and safeguarded as an integral part of national education system.
Responding to Dong Zong’s demands, Wee said the ministry would continue to work towards resolving the issues raised.

However, he was evasive when pressed as to whether the government would give a commitment to resolve the problems or concede to the demands of the Dong Zong.

“We will most certainly take into consideration anything, listen to whatever grievances which we think are rational,” he said, adding that was why the cabinet had agreed to set up a special committee, which he chairs, to resolve the problem.

“The committee will get the cooperation of all stakeholders. Over the past month, we have engaged stakeholders to resolve this issue. We will study each of their resolutions and demands and consider it. We have come up with strategies,” he said.

When it was pointed out that Chinese educationists have been faced with this problem for over four decades and will not accept any more delays, Wee reiterated that the committee was formed to look into it immediately.

“Of course, we know this needs immediate attention. As far as government is concerned, we need to identify the root of the problem before we can solve anything.

“Transferring the non-Chinese speaking teachers out will not solve anything. There are integrated issues which have to be resolved and discussed as a whole, not piecemeal,” he added.

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