This has been a topic of much scrutiny among Malaysians. Some blame sekolah jenis kebangsaan’s (SJK) as the cause of racism in Malaysia. They say something along the lines of, “if everyone (referring to the students) went to national schools, there would be no racism”
That could not be further from the truth. Firstly, Malaysians of all races can attend SJKs. It is not limited to just the Chinese. An article by The Star on the 18th of May 2014 highlighted SJK Chung Shan in Bayan Lepas which has many non-Chinese pupils.
“Of the school’s 209 pupils, 77 are Malay and 20 others are of Indian and other origins.” 46.4% of the school is made up of non-chinese students, thus dispelling any lies about SJKs only being for students of a specific racial origin
One may argue that SJK(C) Chung Shan is merely a one-off case. However, year after year we read about more parents being open to Chinese schools.
Earlier this year it was also reported that Malays made up half of the pupils in a Chinese school. So far I haven’t come across any news which alleges a Chinese school refused to accept non-chinese students
Moving on, SJKs do not spread hate. Pupils are not indoctrinated with “anti-Malay” or “anti-Islam” sentiments. If the SJKs did, would non-chinese parents still send their kids to the school?
In 2013, an article by The Malaysian Insider mentioned that Form Five student Wan Ashikin Ismail, who attends a Chinese vernacular school, said her best friends were Chinese and they conversed in Mandarin. The student also said, “I am not treated differently by students or teachers.” There’s no hint of favouritism or discrimination
Back SJK(C) Chung Shan, “School principal Eng Phaik Kim said they (the pupils) had been taught to interact with each other to showcase the diverse cultural mix in Malaysia.” Contrary to popular belief, SJKs foster national unity just as much as Sekolah Kebangsaan’s do
Moreover, “the perception that Chinese primary schools have stricter discipline, placed a heavier emphasis on academic excellence and the economic rise of China have also persuaded growing numbers of non-Chinese parents to choose Chinese primary schools.”
One of the pre-requisites to a good career is a good education. As such, which parent wouldn’t want to send their kid to a school which has a good track record? If Chinese schools can provide good education, Malaysian parents wouldn’t mind it.
Lastly, SJKs merely want to preserve their mother tongue & culture. As BM is the national language, we (Malaysians) do not need to worry about it ever disintegrating. The same however, can’t be said about Tamil and Mandarin
Now that we have established the fact that SJKs are not sowing racist ideology into the minds of schoolchildren, is being sensitive to the needs of our compatriots too much to ask? All they want is preservation of the language and their culture
Of course if one day the perks of SJKs can be incorporated into our national schools, there wouldn’t be a need for vernacular schools, thus leading to its abolishment. Until such a time, respect the status quo