Tamil education in Malaysia

Speech by DAP Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the official opening of the DAP National Tamil-speaking Seminar at Morib on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 9 a.m.

Tamil education in Malaysia

It may be said that Tamil education structure in Malaysia has a base and a top, but no middle. Secondary education in Tamil is absent, though there are a few Tamil primary schools at the base and a Department of Indian Studies in the University of Malaya at the top.

Those who study Tamil at university are students who have succeeded in retaining their limited proficiency in the language through private informal study. This must surely affect standards of teaching in the university and hamper the further development of the Department of Indian Studies as a place for Tamil literary learning of a high order.

Apart from the absence of secondary Tamil education, the problem of Tamil primary schools is grave and acute.

In theory, a child from the Tamil school can end up with a university education. But the actual possibility is very remote.

About 80 per cent of Tamil schools are in estates. In spite of improvements many of them are still single-teacher, multiple-class schools. The drop-out rate after the first three years is very great.

Thus, children of labourer groups, particularly from the estates, cannot hope to improve their status, and a better life. The children of estate labourers seem condemned to life-long occupation as plantation labourers as their fathers.

These and other problems peculiarly affecting Malaysian Tamils need urgent attention. I hope the seminar today can help to give more thought and consideration to this problem, to help find a solution.