林德宜:國小才是不團結更大根源

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如果決策者真正關心不同族群間學生(和教學人員)的交流,其可在確保父母的教育選擇權和憲法合法性下,提出具有成本效益且無顛覆現有體制的解決方案,就是讓各源流學校、宗教學校共處同一個校園,並讓學生在體育、藝術、音樂、生活技能和非核心科目上,一起上課。這解決方案不需要擁有高深的火箭科學知識,只需常識。

林德宜:國小才是不團結更大根源

馬來政客一再指責母語源流學校是導致國民不團結的主要根源,也是導致族群間缺乏融合的原因,成功地分散了馬來民眾的注意力,轉移了馬來教育領域面對著的更重要問題。

最近,對母語源流學校的抨擊,來自于青年和體育部副部長旺阿末費沙,他說,土團黨青年團支持廢除母語學校。這位新任的土團黨青年團團長說,母語源流學校沒有培養出具有「強大國族身份」的學生。

在這之前,伊黨婦女組副主席莎拉米雅在去年6月的黨大會上,也促請政府關閉母語源流學校。「伊黨婦女組有個願望,不願看到華文成為大馬的第二語言。我們希望第二語言是《可蘭經》的語言,這些語言一直被人們所忽視,導致一些穆斯林對《可蘭經》一無所知。」

 

這些馬來政治領袖沒有提到的現實是,國小更有可能是醞釀種族不容忍和國民不團結的主要溫床。

師生結構趨向單元

國小校方惡待和邊緣化少數族裔學生而引起議論的新聞,就時有所聞。除了所謂的種族和宗教歧視外,國小也普遍存在以下缺點:更加強調以馬來人和伊斯蘭為中心的課程,這與學校本應作為培養學生知識和思維能力的目標背道而馳;學術水平較低;領導和管理能力有待加強;較少語言技能學習機會。

不僅是非馬來人的家長不看好國小,許多馬來父母也是如此。特別是在最近十年,明顯的趨勢是,在有華小的地方,一些馬來家長會選擇讓孩子就讀華小,而非國小。

因此,馬來政客拒絕承認或接受這一趨勢,即母語學校或國民型學校,實際上在學生結構上變得更多元化。相比之下,國小──包括那些過去曾是傑出的重點學校,如城市地區的教會學校,不管在教職員和學生的種族結構上,日趨單元。

以下是國內教育發展趨勢的一些事實和數據:

=在269萬小學學生中,政府學校占了98%,私立學校為2%。政府學校學生中,77%是進入以國語為教學媒介語的國小,20%是進入以華語為媒介語的華小,另3%是進入以泰米爾語為媒介語的泰小。

=學校有種族區分化趨向。華裔學生進入華小的比例從2000年的92%上升到2011年的96%。同期,印裔學生進入泰小的比例也從47%增長到56%。在國小,97%的學生是土著。

=華小學生的族群結構變得更多元,而國小學生結構則趨向單元。估計華小的非華裔學生有19%,主要是土著,而且這趨勢一直在穩定增長。

=儘管入讀不同源流學校,但各族的學生依然能廣泛精通馬來文。如果掌握馬來文能力,被視為族群融合的重要工具,那麼母語源流學校的存在,並沒有帶來負面的影響。

因此,指責母語源流教育是破壞民族團結或融合的假設,須給予全面的駁斥。

首先,國民團結是一個模糊的概念,對不同的人意味著不同的事物。

其次,即使有各方同意可接受的定義,也沒有證據表明母語源流學校破壞了國民團結或融合。同樣,也沒有證據表明國小在國民團結方面,比母語源流學校,更能發揮作用。實際上,許多馬來人也認為目前具有宗教傾向的國小,阻礙了國民團結。

最後,必須指出的是,由聯合國教科文組織和其他教育機構進行的研究表明,在進入雙語或多語教育體系前,學生如能先以母語學習,將取得更好成效。

各方也幾乎都認同,馬來西亞人口和文化的多樣性,是我們身份建構的基礎,也是當今全球化世界競爭中的優勢來源。

反對華小者不明白的事,許多普通百姓都了解。因此,這些人行施《憲法》賦予的自由選擇權利,在不同的源流小學中,選擇自己所要的。

譬如,在鄰近夜市的馬來攤位購買炸雞時,年輕攤販和他的妻子非常親切問我是否當地人。我也與攤主寒暄,談到在攤位上幫忙的兒子。他說他有四個孩子,全部都讀華小,之前是在華人的幼稚園上學。沒有所謂的種族分化、缺乏國民團結和非馬來人的主導問題,也不擔心失去馬來人/伊斯蘭的身份認同。

攤主說,把孩子送到華小的理由,是明智且合乎邏輯的──因比國小有更高的學術水準,以及中文對於未來生計和職業發展的重要性。

國民團結解決方案

因此,教育部應進行一項調查,華小雖然從聯邦政府獲得的財政資助和人員分配都較少,但為何許多馬來人和其他非華裔族群,更願意將他們的孩子送入華小。但這樣的調查永遠不會發生,因為其結果在政治上可能過於震撼。

歸根結底,如果決策者真正關心不同族群間學生(和教學人員)的交流,其可在確保父母的教育選擇權和憲法合法性下,提出具有成本效益且無顛覆現有體制的解決方案,就是讓各源流學校、宗教學校共處同一個校園,並讓學生在體育、藝術、音樂、生活技能和非核心科目上,一起上課。這解決方案不需要擁有高深的火箭科學知識,只需常識。

《國小才是不團結更大根源》(National Schools - Not Mother Tongue Schools - Are The Greater Source Of Disunity)原文:

A recurring accusation by Malay politicians which has successfully distracted the Malay public from focusing on the more important problems of Malay education is that vernacular schools are the main source of national disunity and lack of integration in the country.

The latest attack against these schools comes from Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Senator Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal who has said that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Youth wing supports the abolishment of vernacular schools. According to the newly appointed Armada wing chief, the vernacular schools have not produced students who possess a “strong national identity”.

This follows from the call by Salamiah Md. Nor, vice chief of Muslimat PAS, the women's wing of the Islamist party at the party’s 65th muktamar in June last year for an end to vernacular schools. "Dewan Muslimat has one hope - we are unwilling for Mandarin to become a second language.We want the second language to be that of the Quran and Sunnah which have been neglected for generations, causing some Muslims to become ignorant about the Quran.”

The reality on the ground which Malay aspiring political leaders conveniently fail to mention is that it is more likely that sekolah kebangsaan (SK) that have become the main breeding ground of racial intolerance and national disunity.

The Problem with National Schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan)
 
Controversies involving the mistreatment and marginalization of minority community primary students by school authorities in SK have constantly been in the news. Apart from the alleged racial and religious discrimination, SK schools are widely seen to suffer from the following defects

●they give greater prominence to a Malay and Islamic-centric curriculum which runs counter to the knowledge and thinking skills that these schools are supposed to foster
●they are of lower academic standard
●they have poorer leadership and management
●they provide less language skills

It is not only non-Malay parents that have a low opinion of SK schools but also many Malay parents. The clear trend in the last 10 years especially is that where vernacular schools are available, Malay parents have opted to enrol their children in the vernacular schools rather than the SK schools.

As a result of this trend which the Malay politicians have refused to acknowledge or respect, vernacular or SRJK schools have in fact become more multiracial in their student composition. In contrast SK schools - including those with prominent past educational credentials such as the urban mission schools - have regressed in  their staff and student racial composition.    

Here are some facts and figures on schooling trends in the country

* Of 2.69 million students enrolled in primary schools, 98% are in the public system and 2% in private schools. 77% of public schooled students are enrolled in SKs with Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction; 20% in SRJKCs with Chinese as the medium and 3% in SRJKTs with Tamil as the medium.  

* Ethnic stratification in schools has increased. The proportion of Chinese students enrolled in SRJKCs went up from 92% in 2000 to 96% in 2011. Indians students enrolled in SRJKTs has also gone up from 47% to 56% during the same period. In SKs, 97% of students are Bumiputra.

* SRJKCs have become more multi-racial in their student enrolment while SKs have become less multi-racial. An estimated 19 % of SRJKC students are non-Chinese, mainly Bumiputra, and this proportion has been steadily increasing.  

* Despite enrolment in different schools, there is widespread proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia among students of all races. If Bahasa Malaysia language proficiency is seen as an important tool of integration, there is no adverse impact of vernacular education schooling.  

Why SRJKs Critics Are Wrong

At the same time the assumption that vernacular education undermines national unity or integration needs to be refuted once and for all.

Firstly, national unity is a nebulous concept meaning different things to different people.

Secondly, there is no empirical evidence that vernacular schools undermine national unity or integration, even if an acceptable definition can be agreed to. Neither is there evidence that Malay medium schools play a role in national unity in any way superior to vernacular schools. In fact Malay medium schools with their present religious bias are seen by many Malays as standing in the way of national unity.   

Finally, it is important to note that research conducted by UNESCO and other educational bodies shows that students learn best when taught initially in their mother tongue in preparation for a bilingual or multilingual education.

It has also been noted by almost all quarters that the diversity of cultures and peoples that make up our population is fundamental to our Malaysian identity and a source of competitive advantage in today's globalized world.

Why SRJKs will Survive Well

What the anti-vernacular lobby does not comprehend, many ordinary folk are well aware of. And they are exercising their freedom of choice on the different streams of primary education as provided for by the Constitution.   

Whilst at a neighbourhood pasar malam to buy fried chicken from a Malay stall, the young man and his wife were very friendly and asked whether I was from the area.  I, in turn, asked about his young son who was helping out. He said he had four children, all of them enrolled in SRJKC and tadika Cina. There was no expression of concern of segregation, lack of national unity and dominance by non-Malays or fear of losing the Malay/Islamic  identity. The reasons he gave for enrolling them in the vernacular stream were sensible and logical - higher standards than sekolah kebangsaan and the importance of Mandarin for livelihood and career advancement.

The Ministry of Education should undertake a survey to find out why many Malays and other non-Chinese communities prefer to send their children to SRJK schools despite this stream receiving less financial and staffing support from Putrajaya. But this will never happen as the results may be too politically explosive.

Solution to the National Unity Riddle

At the end of the day, if policy makers are really concerned about inter-racial interaction among the young (and teaching staff), the cost efficient and non-disruptive solution that can ensure parental choice and constitutional legitimacy is to have the various language and religious schools share a common school building and to have mixed classes for sports, arts, music, living skills and non-core subjects.  This solution is not rocket science; just common sense.

林德宜

公共政策分析學者