Friday, October 07, 2005

Misguided HM in National School

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.



Blogger Andrew said...

nice post!

i was lucky to have a more understanding principal in my national secondary school. =) the chinese students were the majority in mine, however.

12/10/05 16:53  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

As you yourself said it, the operative word is probably "Chinese majority". It's a real sad situation here in Malaysia and the truth is really too hard for our political masters to swallow. Otherwise, how do we explain the sorry state of affairs in our national schools, right?

12/10/05 20:11  
Blogger Jan said...

I can't help the feeling that as the Malays get more affluent they also get more arrogant and aloof. Not only they "mistreat" non Malays they very subtly try to exclude the others from mainstream life such as national schools, govt service and the like. Unless the BN govt start to stop the rot national integration is but a dream

13/10/05 12:14  
Blogger johnleemk said...

Wow...that is rather incongruent with my experiences in national schools. In primary school, I had a very understanding and progressive Malay principal. Likewise in my first secondary school. The second was run by a Chinese HM until recently, so I don't know about that. It must be remembered that this anecdote isn't applicable to all national schools, although it's quite possibly applicable to most.

13/10/05 21:46  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

I do agree with you John that this incident should not be a blanket reference to all national schools but suffice to say that we must not be blind to the prevalence of such unfortunate experiences of the non-Malays in such schools. I know that you had it good in your school but do try to be symphathetic to the plight of those who are at the mercy of misguided policies. Calling for the abolishment of vernacular schools may not necessarily see better integration among the various races in Malaysia. There are much larger social forces at work in this country which gives rise to this problem. Maybe, if we could just accept our differences and not insist on amalgamating all the various races/cultures simplistically into a single mould called Bangsa Malaysia, we could develop better compassion towards our racially different Malaysian brothers and sisters and be sensitive while accepting and respecting each other enough not to infringe on the rights of the individual to live peacefully according to their culture/religion/tradition. Live and let live, eh?

14/10/05 14:21  
Blogger johnleemk said...

I am hardly ignorant of the other factors leading to disunity here. That's why I am also agitating for other major changes like overhauling the affirmative action policies and setting things straight in national schools. As I've said before, nothing can be accomplished simply by tearing down all the vernacular schools. You have to make national schools a viable alternative beforehand.

14/10/05 21:48  
Blogger Bigjoe99 said...

Too many people in this country have little understanding of the concept of '"tyranny by minorities". A tiny minority of very vocal and politically powerful people can affect the overwhelming majority of well-meaning people. What most don't understanding is that there may be only one HM whose attitude is highly detrimental but he got his attitude from soneone above him who has the same or worst attitude. He also bring others into his line of thinking in the school. The silence well-meaning majority are incosequential in scheme of thing because its apathy prevails most of the time with most of them. Its the consistently tyranical few that has huge consequences and cannot be taken lightly. For every HM like these, there are many many more who don't care or won't do anything about it that are partners in crime.

18/10/05 16:13  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Nice to hear so many different but well-written views here. The point is much harm does come from such "minority" school heads who, truth be said, DO have much influence on the attitude of students and teachers alike. I guess our MOE ought to do a better job at vetting their candidates for such an important post as school HMs.

18/10/05 19:42  
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23/2/10 21:08  

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