Over the weekend, my son had his second entrance exam going into an SK (public) school. Some things are not right – firstly, it’s his third this year. (He’s six!! But that’s another posting all together). The issue I’m worried about is the fact that there’s literally a handful of Chinese and Indian kids in his batch – apparently you can count them using one hand. Contrast this to the primary school I went to, when it was a healthy mix, resulting in me growing up with a bunch of friends and classmates from other races. Where did the Chinese and Indian kids go? Where’s the love going all around for unity and diversity, something that we are so proud to tell foreign visitors?
Some people don’t seem to be too concerned about this, but I feel strongly that this is such a negative development from 30 years ago. As a parent, you always want to give your child something that is better than what you had growing up – you want to give him/her a better education, lifestyle, and a bunch of material things. Life should progress forwards, not backwards. If our children are not exposed to other races from a young age, there will be less understanding and tolerance from each other growing up, and we could see stronger racism and discrimination. Doesn’t it just make sense for a country to have a strong public education system with all races attending? Why have multiple vernacular schools, one for each race? How will this lead to unity?
I understand that parents are concerned about the current state of public education, but all of us were products of them – and we didn’t turn out so bad, right? Has the education syllabus deteriorated so much from our time? Or are we the ones who are turning more snobbish, turning up our nose to public education and wanting to give our kids private and premium schooling, because we can? If all parents who have the ability decide to send their kids to private/vernacular schools, wouldn’t the quality of our public education deteriorate even further, from a lack of professional working parents who actively contribute towards the parent teacher associations?
For sure one of the reasons why people feel the quality of public education has worsened is the quality of the teachers. When we were growing up there was still a mix of teachers from all races and you had those who went into teaching because of their passion in educating the nation’s youth. Now, most of the teachers are Malays – non-Malays are more likely to join the private sector to maximize earnings and their standard of living, since teachers are paid so little in this country.
My aunt is a teacher, and from her Facebook postings I can tell that although she remains passionate and committed to her job, she is also getting weary from the exhaustion and the amount of work, while feeling less appreciated by the public. How would she, and her comrades, feel to see parents increasingly defect to the private or vernacular school system when they are all working their asses off for such a small amount of recognition?
I don’t have the answers for this, and neither am I trying to make a political statement. I’m getting worried about the future of my son’s generation, and I do hope I will be proven wrong, that this multiple schooling system will not lead the country astray. If only the people in power have strong political will to make this right. Make the nation’s education a priority. Invest in teachers and raise their pay to make teaching a respected and sought-after profession. Get rid of multiple systems and focus on improving the public system that we’ve had for decades. Anyone who can do this (and also fix the local transportation system – but that’s another day) definitely has my vote.