PETALING JAYA: Educationists representing Tamil and Islamic schools are likely to stand with Dong Zong on Nov 25 in a protest against the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
Criticising the blueprint as fraught with flaws, they told FMT they would meet Dong Zong representatives within the next few days and would probably accept that organisation’s invitation to the rally, which will be held at Padang Timur in Petaling Jaya.
However, the organisation representing mission schools, the Malaya Christian School Council, has declined the invitation. Its chairman, Yap Kok Keong , said proper channels had not been exhausted in seeking changes to the blueprint.
In announcing the preliminary report on the blueprint last September, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said it would be finalised by Dec 31. The government has invited feedback on it.
Dong Zong, or the United Chinese School Committees Association, last week invited other education groups as well as political parties to join them in next week’s protest, which will be held at Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya.
Dong Zong said the different groups would be allocated time during the rally to air their objections.
Megat Mohamed Amin, who heads an umbrella organisation for Islamic schools called Pusat Pendidikan SRI-SMI Berhad (Musleh), said his group had agreed in principle to participate in the protest, but would meet with Dong Zong tomorrow for further discussions.
He said he was unhappy with the blueprint for sidelining spiritual and emotional education in the face of rampant social problems.
He described it as too heavily tilted towards students’ intellectual development at the expense of physical, emotional and spiritual development.
The Tamil Foundation will meet Dong Zong next Tuesday, but its adviser, K Arumugam, said he would advise his organisation to take part in the rally.
He criticised the blueprint as an attempt to “homogenise” education by making national schools the preferred choice, with Chinese, Tamil and Arabic offered as third languages.
He ticked off the policymakers for being pre-occupied with the idea of assimilation and said the blueprint could be detrimental to vernacular schools.
“They must go beyond homogenisation and appreciate multiculturism,” he told FMT.
“Our kids can mix around and speak the Malay language, but at the same time they must appreciate each other’s right to converse in mother tongues.”
Not the time for rallies
Yap, speaking for mission schools, acknowledged that the blueprint had shortcomings, but said it was not yet time for demonstrations.
“There are still avenues that we can pursue,” he said. “We have not reached that last resort.”
He pointed out that the 438 mission schools in the country were not mentioned in the blueprint despite their contribution to the country over the decades.
“There is no acknowledgement, no mention of role and opportunities,” he said. “Where is our future? Where is our place?”