Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the official opening of the first DAP Rural Office in Malacca at Pulau Gadong on Friday, 15th October 1971 at 4 p.m.
The Grave Problem of School drop-outs in Malacca
The opening or the Office of the DAP Rural Affairs Sub-Committee in Malacca in Pulau Gadong today marks the first positive result of the DAP’s expansion drive into the rural areas. The Rural Affairs Office in Pulau Gadong serves the people in the surrounding areas, and tries to help solve the people’s problem.
One of the biggest problem in Malacca and the country is the poverty of the people, both in rural and urban areas, This problem is highlighted by the very grave problem of school drop-outs.
Last year, a total of 3, 531 pupils dropped out after primary education in Malacca, out of a possible 9, 647 pupils who should be in secondary schools in 1970. I do not have the figures for 1971, but the situation is not very different from the previous year.
In terms of percentage, 37 per cent of the pupils left school or dropped out of school after their primary education in Malacca. This is a very high figure.
A survey in Perak shows that the drop-outs were normal school pupils with healthy interests but because of a poor home environment they are unable to continue their education in secondary schools.
The parents find it too big a burden to maintain their children in secondary school, where they have to supply them with basic needs such as text-books and uniforms, and other miscellaneous fees, as transport to and from school.
Most of the parents of the drop-outs are parents of guardians of low-income or unsteady jobs.
This is a very grave problem, for unless solution is immediately found, then every year, tens of thousands of pupils fit them into society, forcing them to remain poor, destitute and discontented.
The problem of school drop-outs had been a big problem for the last decade, but the Alliance government had not given any attention to it. The Malacca State Government, for instance, has not shown that it is aware of this problem.
I therefore call on the Malacca State Government, jointly with the Ministry of Education, to immediately find ways of overcoming this problem.
The recent suggestion by the Headmaster of Malacca High School that the government should provide free secondary education is one way to
meet this problem.
This problem afflicts the poor and the downtrodden. If the government wants to help the poor and the downtrodden, then it must apply itself to it.