I wish to refer to the report entitled, “Malaysia a Shared Nation?” in Ipoh Echo Issue 191 in reference to the allotment of parking lots for motorcycles at SMK Anderson according to race. This is not true as the school does not make such allotment.
It has more to do with the behaviour of students who like to park their motorcycles according to their race, presumably because of the trend among students is to make friends along racial lines. This tendency leads to cluster parking resulting in the impression that there is an allotment of parking space according to one’s race. The school does NOT practise apartheid.
Unfortunately, there was no time to follow-up with clarification on this matter during the Q&A session as too many were poised to present their views following the thought-provoking lecture by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, especially on the aspect of racial polarisation in schools.
The fact that students show a tendency to park their bikes along racial lines should not be considered an unusual phenomenon these days. The same tendency can be noticed in the manner in which students take their seats in the school canteen or even the way teachers cluster themselves in their common rooms and, for that matter, the way occupancy of rooms takes place in accommodating students or teachers during inter-school games.
In a racially mixed school like Anderson, it is sad to notice that while the students and teachers are in the same melting pot, they are not melting into one another. At national elections, racial composition of constituencies is openly declared and features strongly in discussions predicting possible outcomes of successful candidates or parties. These certainly do not augur well for the future of the nation.
The more pertinent questions are, “what has led to this state of affairs?” and “what is the solution to the problem?” Unfortunately, there were no convincing answers to these questions at the interaction that took place following the lecture. Datin Paduka Marina did stress the need to revamp the education syllabus but surely there is much more that needs to be done – the way teaching is conducted, how student behaviour and discipline are cultivated and how everyday matters are attended to need special attention. The role of parents and the PTAs needs to be re-examined in a broader context for the betterment of education.
The lecture did allude to the fact that racial polarisation may not have happened had there been a single schooling system and vernacular schools abolished – a highly sensitive proposition. In my opinion, Malaysian society has not reached the level of maturity to dwell into these matters at present – in fact it may turn out to be political seppuku.
Let’s face it. For whatever reason, this is what we have come to be. It is fashionable to blame politics and the education system to explain away the situation and we never question or analyse our own individual behaviour.
Revamping the education syllabus may help but I feel there is much more to it. It needs cultural reorientation, effective parenting, a change in mindset and revamping teacher training to generate open-minded teachers who can help churn out Malaysian-minded rather than racial-minded students such that they can become better citizens.
The manner in which students park their motorcycles in schools is just a symptom of a broader problem that we need to address in a rational manner.
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