DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr Lim Kit Siang, at a Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election rally at Kota on 30th June 1972 at 9 p.m.

DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into standards of Inquiry into standards of education of 1.7 million primary and secondary students in Malaysia.

Over the years, under the Alliance education system, the standard of education in Malaysia has deteriorated gravely. In almost every town, we find Form III students who cannot even make a proper sentence, whether in English or Bahasa Malaysia. This is most shocking when it is remembered that these students have had nine years of schooling.

One of the greatest indictments on the present government’s education policy and system is the high incidence of unemployment among Malaysians in the age group between 15-24. Unemployment as a whole has already reached an explosive situation in Malaysia. But its incidence is highest among younger age groups, particularly among youths between the ages of 15-24. In 1962, this age group constituted 63% of total unemployment, but in 1967-68, this has grown to 75%. In 1972 today, young Malaysians between 15-24 easily constitute more than 80% of total unemployment.

All these young unemployeds are the products of the present government’s education policy and system. They are either school drop-outs during the primary state, or failures at the L.C.E level. For instance, last year alone 70,000 standard six students dropped out of the education system, and tens of thousands failed the L.C.E.

These youngsters are thrown out of schools, not educated or trained for any gainful employment. They can only stoke the fires of discontent, social unrest and finally national upheaval.

The results of Standard V Assessment Test, Lower Certificate of Education and the Malaysian Certificate of Education have revealed how shockingly low is the standard and quality of education in Malaysia today.

The standard of education is getting worse, and not better. No wonder, Ministers and top Alliance leaders send their children abroad for their education, for they themselves have no confidence in their own education system to give their children proper educational grounding to prepare them for a good future.

There have been various commissions and committees in the country on educational issues, like the Aziz Royal Commission on the Teaching Services in West Malaysia and the 1962 Committee on Higher Education Planning. But there has not been a single committee or commission on the standards of education of our 1.7 million primary and secondary school students, to ascertain whether they are learning the rights things which will help then to get jobs later, or un-educated, Malaysian youngsters.

The DAP therefore calls on the Alliance Government, as a matter of grave national importance and urgency, to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the standards and quality of education in the primary and secondary schools in Malaysia, to find ways and means to upgrade the educational quality in our schools.

Such a Royal Commission of Inquiry should inquire, among other things, into the following sins of the present education system:

1. The cause of the shockingly low standards of education in Malaysian schools, particularly national schools;

2. The grave problem of school drop-outs, the economic and environmental factors which work against the poor pupils;

3. The high rate of unemployed youths in the 17-24 age group, and to adjust the educational system so as to turn out youths who can be fitted into the needs of present society, and can get jobs, and not just throw them out as jobless unwanted youths;

4. The evil of the automatic promotion system which does not give the child a chance to really measure up to his standards, but continues to force them up the classes regardless of whether they could cope or not, leading to large numbers on failures at the first public examination level, namely the L.C.E level.

5. The hasty, rash and unplanned conversion of national-type (English) primary schools into national primary schools, switching the medium of instruction from English to Bahasa Malaysia, without adequate preparation and sufficient teachers proficient in Bahasa Malaysia. As a result, large numbers of students in National-type (English) primary schools are going to have their educational future wrecked, because they are not learning any proper Bahasa Malaysia, which will become the sole medium of examination when they face their first public examination.

6. The shocking state of affairs where every year close to 10,000 students fail the M.C.E., merely because of their failure in the Bahasa Malaysia paper. Many of such students get distinctions in several subjects, including in subjects more difficult than languages, like mathematics and science. In fact, there were also a few students who scored seven or eight distinctions who still failed because of Bahasa Malaysia failure.

7. The grave problem of the burden of text-books on the poor students and parents. Drastic action must be taken to make text-books freely and cheaply available to the poorest students.

8. The poor and abysmally low standard of science subjects, particularly in rural schools, which continue to inhibit and impede the Malay breakthrough to a world of science and technology.