The issue about Tamil schools in Malaysia is a never-ending topic has been constantly debated and discussed on. I am very passionate and to certain extend protective/emotional when it comes to this issue because Tamil schools are something which is very close to my heart. I am a product of Tamil school education and I started my career teaching in Tamil schools, namely SJK (T) Ladang Cairo and SJK (T) Ladang Jemina in Negeri Sembilan. My years of studying and then teaching in Tamil Schools have really ingrained in me the importance of preserving Tamil schools and I speak based on my first hand experience, not as a politician but as a proud product of Tamil school education and someone who was moulded by Tamil schools.
Contrary to what most people think, there is much more to Tamil schools than just learning the Tamil language. This is a platform for students to learn the Hindu culture and religion from the Friday prayer sessions, religious classes, thevaram competitions and cultural based activities and competitions often held in the schools.
Recently, I was approached by a reporter from a Tamil daily who asked for my opinion regarding criticism by certain parties on the sorry state of Tamil schools and the poor quality of their teachers in which some even went to the extent of suggesting about the abolishment of Tamil schools. Naturally, this irked me to no end. I told the reporter a couple of things, one of them being : those who aren’t from Tamil schools have no rights to talk negatively about Tamil schools. Do I stand by my statement? Absolutely yes!
There are a few points that I would like to elaborate on with regards to my above statement. Firstly, blind criticism without proper facts and research is certainly unwelcome. It is to be noted that the issue on the quality of Tamil school teachers is being gradually addressed. Tamil school teachers now consist of 45% Degree holders and 55% Diploma holders with only 100 temporary teachers currently. There are slow but sure steps being taken to give better training to the teachers in order for them to provide quality teaching to the students. Statistics have also shown an increase in the performance of Tamil school students in the UPSR examination, which is a clear testimony of the effectiveness of the new step taken.
Secondly, as most of you must be aware of, the Prime Minister has set up a committee in charge of the Tamil School Transformation Plan whereby all important issues related to Tamil schools will be considered and rectified by the said committee. This initiative is led by Prof N. S. Rajendran who has the knowledge, qualification and expertise to successfully head this committee. The government provides necessary funding for this purpose but the Prime Minister realizes that he needs someone who understands Tamil schools to get the job done with minimum interference. As such, he has entrusted this task in the hands of someone who is a Tamil school product and who also is passionate and determined to improve the quality of Tamil schools. The Prime Minister has ensured that the committee’s findings and opinions are of highest value in any decision making process with regards to Tamil schools.
I find the calls for abolishment of Tamil schools not only absurd but totally insensitive. It is like a short cut solution for all problems : If you feel something is not working, give up on it. Is that the example we want to set for our future generation? If in the future our children or grandchildren ask us why there are no Tamil schools similar to SJK(C), what are we going to say to them? “Oh, there were too many problems, so we gave up, and we didn’t fight to solve it and make it better”. I know for sure that what I’ve learnt from Tamil schools is not something I could get from anywhere else which is why I said only those who are Tamil school educated will know the real value of Tamil school education and will never suggest such absurd ideas on its abolishment.
I do applaud the concern of all quarters including those who are not Tamil school educated that have put forward many ideas and suggestions on the betterment of Tamil schools and areas that can be improved on. However, as stated above, I am strongly against those who merely criticize without valid points and without actually taking an effort at all from their side to find out the facts or attempt anything to make the situation better but instead discourage others who are doing what little they can. Let us all take an effort to ‘walk the talk’ and collectively do as much as we can because together, we will be able to do anything and everything.
In my capacity previously and at present, I do try my level best to help in the betterment of Tamil schools in any little way I can, some of which have been documented on previous posts in my blog. I hope to continue doing so as long as I possibly can.
Tamil school is part of our identity. Preserve it. Be proud of it.