Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The hairy scary rules of Chinese schools

Spotted on page 8 of The SUN today:-

DONG ZONG (United Chinese School Committees Association) president Yap Sin Tien said the education policy is not totally to blame for the weakening of Chinese primary school committees.

Some school committees have given up some of their rights and allowed themselves to be marginalised either because they are not properly organised or due to the bias of the people running the show, the Chinese press reported.

Speaking at the launch of the Chinese school committee awareness campaign in Kajang, Yap said school committees have a vital role to play as the community has entrusted them with the task of ensuring Chinese schools will keep abreast of the times to be relevant.


The recent tussle between Dong Jiao Zong and the Federation of Chinese School Headmasters made headlines in the local papers and caused much embarrassment as well as deep concern among the Chinese community at large.

Thus, when I saw the above newsbite, I was instantly reminded of the myriad of problems affecting the running of these schools. It has always been and probably will continue to be, an uphill battle all the way for the Chinese community in Malaysia to hold on to their right to educate their kids in Chinese vernacular schools.

On top of that, they had to find ways and means to sustain such schools and ensure their survival based on their ability to continue to maintain the kind of high enrolment rate which we have been seeing in recent years, not just from the Chinese community but increasingly from other communities as well.

But I guess a lot of parents knew it in their hearts that the surge in popularity of Chinese schools is actually a manifestation of the rejection of national schools for various reasons. I would go so far as to say that it is not so much that Chinese vernacular education in Malaysia is superior to other forms of education, just that they are winning hands down by default.

Chinese schools are steeped in traditions that are so out-dated, one example which is manifestly ridiculous but still practised in this 21st century is the "hair ruling".

In most, if not all Chinese primary schools, the general rule is that girls must keep their hair no longer than the top of their shirt collar and they are not allowed to use hairclips or hairbands to keep their fringes away from their face. Which means, they must cut their front fringe short, above the eyebrows. So generally, the girls will have only 2 available choice of hairstyles, the bob (or "mushroom cut") or the boy's style ("7-up cut").

The boys in general all sport the same kind of crew-cut, what every kid knows to tell the barber to give him the "No. 1" (almost shorn bald) or "No. 2" (the 1 cm) cut.

I remembered very well when I was in Australia last year and one Australian shopkeeper mistook J for a boy because of her "7-up" hairstyle. When I corrected the lady, she expressed surprise and questioned me on why I gave my poor girl such an awfully boyish hairstyle. I explained that it was the school rule and before I could explain further, her quick response was, "What kind of a blardy rule is that? Hey Mike! See what they do to girls in Malaysian schools!"

*Sigh* I had to tell them that it only happens in Chinese-type schools and then I had to explain further why we have different types of schools in Malaysia. I couldn't explain why the Chinese school rules have such a "hairy" ruling though, except that it has always been that way. Maybe something to do with school discipline. I could sense that it was a pretty lame excuse to her.

The point I want to make here is this.

Is it still relevant in this day and age to keep to such a rigid hair rule in Chinese schools?

I really don't see the relevance at all. In fact, truth be told, I totally hated this rule. It's so "communist". And if the national schools didn't suck so much, I wouldn't enrol my kids in Chinese schools. That's the truth. And I suppose this is also true for the non-Chinese parents who put their kids in Chinese schools.

I hope to see the day when Dong Jiao Zong will realise that they too need to keep abreast of the times, lest they themselves become irrelevant.



Blogger Fashionasia said...

arggh!! dont remind me!! I always have "china doll" cut during schooldays. But i had some extra priviledges bcos i was a gymnast. Hated the rules.
btw whats 7-up cut?!!!

21/6/06 00:07  
Blogger howsy said...

Oh, now I know the lollipop in my 'Anonymous Blogger: This is how I predict they look like' post is for girl-girl J...

21/6/06 01:19  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Fashionasia: "China doll" sounds cute but these days the girls get teased by the boys for sporting the "tung ku tou" (ie mushroom head) which is why J opted for the 7-up, a layered pixie style. In her school, even ballet students are not exempted from the rule. It was tough on me when her lovely long locks had to go during the 1st week of school. :(

Yeah Howsy, I'm slowly slowly getting not so anonymous .. :)

21/6/06 08:39  
Blogger Fashionasia said...

But actually hor, come to think of it. I think the rules are actually good because it saves us the hassle to think about our hairstyle and concentrate on studying. kekeke

21/6/06 11:37  
Blogger Maverick SM said...

I disagree! I don't accept it is out-dated. It's a good discipline although many thinks otherwise. That's an identity and it does no harm. Would you want the schools to be updated with the latest craze and fashion? I still think school children should be discourage from adapting to the new fashions which is largely about commercialism and would cost the parents a lot of money to keep up with trends and fashions.

As long as it do no harm, and will not retard the children's effort to study and better themselves in education, traditions is not anything to review, for the sake per se.

21/6/06 21:29  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Hiya Mave - it's NOT about following trends and fashions. National & Tamil schools too have their own strict hair rules but they allow the girls to sport long hair as long as it is neatly tied up. What's so wrong with that? Don't tell me this is a good example why those 2 schools are less successful than the Chinese schools!

I think you have just revealed the logic behind the unbending Chinese thinking - if it ain't broken, why fix it?

But Mave, this is 2006 and our world is getting borderless. One day, the perfectly successful formula to the mad paper chase may be a hollow victory. We need to move with the times. Even communist China is shedding their communist image.

:) I'm willing to agree to disagree with you on this one if you don't mind. :)

21/6/06 21:45  

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