Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cabinet Decision On International Schools - Good Intentions vs Reality.

First please read a part of a report in today's New Straits Times - The education landscape here is set for a seismic shift. For a start, more Malaysian students will be able to attend international schools: They could constitute up to 40 per cent of the enrolment of each school. At present, only 0.05 per cent of Malaysian students receive their education in the 32 international schools in the country. The Education Ministry hopes to address several issues with this initiative, including:- Stopping the brain drain of the country’s best and brightest. Several thousand young Malaysians leave the country every year for primary and secondary education in Singapore, Australia and Britain. A number opted for foreign education after having their requests to attend international schools locally turned down.(NST)

First of all the young pupils who leave for their primary and secondary education overseas are not the 'best and the brightest'; the rich and the wealthiest, perhaps I would agree. The best and the brightest, my dear Mandarins at the Ministry of Education, are those who who are given short shrift, come scholarship-dispensing time by the PSD. The wantan mee seller's son and the rubber tapper's daughter that were sent dukacita letters are the ones you should be targeting. These are the proven cases of excellence and not a tycoon's son who may or may not perform if he is put even in the best 'international school'.

I can visualize several scenarios to this 'seismic' decision regarding international schools:

1) Wonder of wonders! The plan is implemented exactly as is announced.
2) Just as in a cookie advertisement on television the plan disappears without a trace in the near future - 'now you see it, now you don't'. Remember?
3) A high-powered committee is set up; the members then go into a 'demi bangsa dan negara' mode and lay down dozens of restrictions, clauses, sub-clauses regarding the medium of instruction, religious classes, the teaching of moral studies and strict quota requirements. Very plausible.
4) The outspoken nationalists, champions of language, culture, religion, history et al get into the act and ensure the plan is quashed and given a decent burial.
5) The international schools put their tail between their legs and run to Singapore. Cannot be ruled out.

I hate to sound like a sourpuss but can you blame me? I've merely tried to envisage the future using past experience and problems as a point of reference. The Education Ministry doesn't really enjoy the confidence of many Malaysians does it? We have heard of so many plans being either stillborn or aborted that it doesn't surprise us anymore if another one bites the dust. Having said that, I for one think it is a capital idea and hope it works out. At least there is one good alternative for my toddler daughter to look forward to.

Coming to the subject of scholarships for the deserving, I must relate to you an incident that happened almost a decade ago. There was this non-Chinese girl who obtained even then 'straight As' in her SPM. She applied to a Chinese based foundation in Kuala Lumpur and after a few weeks on not receiving any news the father went to the foundation office to inquire. He was told that they had 'accidentally overlooked' her application and now it was too late and she should apply next year. Oh come off it! How many non-Chinese girls with straight As in the first place apply to these foundations that they could 'accidentally overlook' her? So racists and chauvinists exist everywhere even among those who scream the loudest of being the victims of such racism. Therefore before throwing darts at the government for all types of injustice check out your own home first. The biggest racists may be lurking there.


Blogger prl said...

The brain drain is not only due to the present educational policies. It is largely due to the whole gamut of government policies based on insitutionalised racial discrimination. True, there is also discrimination in other countries but that is on a personal basis and action is taken against such act. Here it is otherwise. It is government policy and approvingly practised by the government. Unless this basic issue is honestly addressed there will always be a brain drain. Of course,there are other factors too e.g. compensation schemes etc. The point is that brain drain cannot be tackled in a potted and isolated manner.

There is also the issue the issue of dictating the ciriculum on international schools. The schools should be left to concentrate on producing pupils to succeed in life and to contribute towards society. Also brain drain is more relevant at the tertiary level.

International schools are profit oriented. Why not invite the mission schools back. The methodist schools and the La Salle Brothers schools did and excellent job here. Many of our leaders are the products of such schools. They are also not so profit oriented. What about it. But it will scare the local mullahs and the UMNO ultras to death!

11:54 PM GMT+8  

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