Our Education Minister has finally admitted in Parliament that our national schools are not exactly a big draw, with more than 2/3 of the schools having less than 600 students each. Does it really surprise ANYONE?
And if things are allowed to continue to rot, you can bet your last ringgit that the enrolment in these schools will suffer further, with the rejection coming even from the Malays themselves.
Let me give you a REAL example of some of the problems encountered at these national schools.
A Chinese friend's daughter did well in her UPSR exam, scoring 6 As and 1B for her 7 subjects. Against the advice of well-meaning friends, he decided to enrol her into a national secondary school near his home so that his daughter will have the opportunity to interact with students of other races, namely the Malays and Indians, after spending 6 years in a SRJK (C) for the sake of learning the Chinese language.
In her first year (Form 1), she made many friends from all races and was very happy in that school. In fact, one of her best friend is a Malay girl whose father is also a school teacher, albeit in another district. My friend's daughter did very well in her school exams and came out among the top 3 in her class. However, for some unexplained reasons, she was "demoted" and separated from the class of best students in her second year. She ended up in a class of students who are more interested in disrupting the teachers and playing the fool rather than doing any actual learning. She was sorely disappointed and was advised by her parents to make the best out of the situation.
In her second year, she applied for leave from school to sit for her Piano ABRSM theory examination which happened to clash with the day she was to sit for a Sejarah test paper. She was told to see the HM regarding the matter. Imagine her shock when the HM refused to even listen to her plea or even look at the proof of exam attendance slip. Instead, the headmistress refused to look at her, waved her off with her hand and curtly dismissed her with a "ini semua alasan saja. Kalau kamu absent, kamu dapat markah kosonglah." With that, she was summarily dismissed from the office. Needless to say, she was almost in tears.
My friend was shocked by the callous attitude of the headmistress and went to the school the next morning to try to explain the situation to her. However, the HM was out of the office on "personal matters" and he was attended to by the asst HM. When he showed the exam slip to her, she retorted with a "Oh, ini untuk ujian Piano. Anak kamu dari keluarga elit,
ya?. Maaf, saya tak boleh tolong. Kalau alasan tak mahu datang sekolah kerana sakit masuk hospital atau saudara mati
, itu boleh. Lain alasan mesti tanya guru besar dulu. Datanglah besok pagi" My friend was utterly speechless!!
When he finally caught up with the HM, she was in a better mood. The HM conceded that it is not possible for the girl to change her Piano exam date and agreed to allow her to sit for the Sejarah paper in her office immediately after she finished her Piano test. When my friend queried her on why she refused to give her consideration to the request earlier, he was further shocked by her reply that it was because there are so many other students in the school who frequently apply for leave to attend "Church" matters (hal-hal agama Kristian
)! She thought that my friend's daughter was also trying to skip school to attend "Church". Maybe it was the HM's good fortune that my friend is not a Christian, otherwise, he would be HUGELY OFFENDED by her remark.
All in all, this very long-winded story serves to remind us of yet another reason why national schools do not appeal to the non-Malays. I'm sure there are many many more horror stories out there to be told. I don't want to exaggerate on the discrimination faced by non-Muslims in these schools but then again, some of the rules and regulations imposed on them do make them feel very uncomfortable and goes against the spirit of national unity and tolerance among the races.
For example, during this Ramadhan month, instead of educating the non-Muslims on the proper way of showing courtesy to their fellow Muslim students, the non-Muslim students were instead harshly WARNED NOT to drink from their water-bottles in class. And that goes as well to the rule of EATING in public.
I wonder why the Muslim teachers are imparting such a message of "intolerance" among the Muslim students who do learn a thing or two about such close-minded behaviour.
As an end to this story, my friend decided to transfer her daughter out of this school before she develop a negative view of the Malay mindset based on what she experienced in this school. Thus, a noble effort to integrate a Chinese primary student into the mainstream national school system for the purpose of integration and unity was utterly wasted.