The English schools – their fall from their pampered position in society

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at a DAP Public Rally at Pagoh, Muar, Johore on Saturday, 29th July 1972 at 9 p.m.

The English schools – their fall from their pampered position in society

In the last few year days, I have revealed the shocking rate of mass failures of standard V students in national primary schools, National-type (Chinese) primary schools and national-type (Tamil) primary schools in last year’s Assessment Examination.

I wish to day to reveal the details of the Standard V pupils of English primary schools in last year’s Standard V Assessment Examination.

Until several years ago, the English schools have regarded themselves as the superior schools when compared to Chinese, Tamil or Malay schools.

This was the result of a British colonial system, where those who receive on English education will be able to enter government service, lord over the ordinary masses, or enter universities and the professions which put them high above ordinary society. Only an English education gives them the key to universities which are recognized by the Establishment. Hence the development of that superiority complex of the English-education.

Many parents still think that to send their children to English schools is to give them a head–start in life, to give them better preparation to make the grade in society.

They do not realize that things have changed, that in fact, the English schools have not only fallen greatly in academic standards, but will in three years’ time, cease to exist completely at primary level.

It is tragic that many parents, who are illiterate or do not know any English, still do not know about the truth of the Malaysian education system today.

The results of the English primary schools in last year’s Std V Assessment Test reveal the shockingly low standard in English primary schools. Just as other language-primary schools, there were also mass failures in the English primary schools.

Thus, in the English language subject alone, the three states with the highest percentages of failures were Trengganu (55.28%), Kelantan (51.01%) and Pahang (49.98%).

In Bahasa Malaysia II, the worst states with the highest percentages of failures were Selangor (41.78%), Perak (38.96%) and Penang (38.91%).

In Science, the following states topped the list in having the highest percentages of failures: Pahang (44.52%), Kedah (44.21%) and Penang (42.61%).

In Mathematics, the three worst states were: Kedah (47.82%), Pahang (46.71%) and Trengganu (44.94%).

In geography – history, the states that topped the highest failures were: Penang (42.89%), Perak (42.37%) and Selangor (42.06%).

It is thus clear that the English primary schools are not very much better than other language-stream schools, and are not the superior schools in the country.

The following are the detailed results of English primary schools in last year’s Assessment Examination:

1972 Standard V Assessment Examination Results Percentage of Failures

Bahasa Malaysia II English II
Selangor 41.78% Trengganu 55.28%
Perak 38.96% Kelantan 51.01%
Penang 38.91% Pahang 49.98%
Pahang 35.66% Kedah 47.52%
Negeri Negeri
Sembilan 31.35% Sembilan 45.80%
Kedah 25.27% Perlis 45.50%
Johore 24.73% Perak 42.75%
Malacca 21.48% Penang 42.33%
Kelantan 16.62% Selangor 40.24%
Trengganu 16.22% Johore 36.68%
Perlis 11.50% Malacca 33.08%

Mathematics Science
Kedah 47.82% Pahang 44.52%
Pahang 46.71% Kedah 44.21%
Negeri Penang 42.61%
Sembilan 45.81% Trengganu 42.38%
Trengganu 44.94% Negeri
Kelantan 44.78% Sembilan 41.91%
Perak 41.97% Perak 40.76%
Penang 41.22% Kelantan 39.66%
Selangor 39.17% Selangor 38.39%
Perlis 36.57% Perlis 33.83%
Johore 35.45% Johore 33.33%
Malacca 30.69% Malacca 28.62%

Penang 42.89%
Perak 42.37%
Selangor 42.06%
Pahang 39.90%
Sembilan 35.55%
Kedah 34.49%
Johore 28.96%
Malacca 27.63%
Kelantan 24.67%
Trengganu 23.43%
Perlis 15.92%

The English schools have fallen badly in quality of education. There are still people who think that English-school education qualifies one to be a leader, even a born leader. The recent proposal by the Minister of Special Functions, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, that only those who have a M.C.E certificate can be a candidate in parliamentary and State Assembly election is an example of the thinking of the English-educated who think that they are the only ones qualified to lead.

It is clear from the detailed results of all primary schools, regardless of their media of instruction that our children are being miseducated, and will group up until for any employment in society.

Education organizations of all language streams should now step forward to bear their responsibility to find a solution to this low quality of education, or they will be shirking their responsibility as the educators of tomorrow’s Malaysians.

In the last two years, the press carries virtually daily reports of the fight and struggle of Malaysian teachers for a better deal, in improved salaries and conditions of service.

This is laudable and has the support of all Malaysians, for they want their teachers to be a contented group of people who can devote their energies to be education of the young.

However, the teachers’ should not be blind to the low quality of education in Malaysian schools.

In fact, I must confess disappointment that up to this date, the teachers and the education organisations have not done anything to highlight the problem of mass failures in schools, when this problem had been prevalent for a number of years.

The teachers, principals and all educational organisations to act, and a test of their educational responsibility for the next generation of Malaysians.

I believe that Malaysian teachers can rise up to the occasion, and with imagination, dedication and a high sense of purpose, come to grips with this problem of low quality and standard of education in Malaysian schools.

This is not a political problem, or a sectional problem, but a national issue affecting Malaysians of all races and classes.

The government’s silence on this subject and the silence of MCA, UMNO and MIC show that the government is not interested in this problem. On the country, they hope that this problem will not become known to the parents. The DAP will see to it that the parents are aware of this problem which threatens to destroy the future of whole generation of Malaysians.

The mis-education of Malaysian students, the mass failures of students in all schools, whether national, Tamil, Chinese or English schools, will be one of the main subjects for all DAP public rallies henceforth so that this grave problem is not hidden from the parents and the public.