Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the DAP Ulu Selangor Liaison Committee at Kuala Kubu Bahru on Wednesday, 23rd August 1972 at 8 p.m.
Malaysian parents should be aware of MCA attempt to suppress the grave problem of low quality and standard of education of their children in schools
In the last few weeks, the DAP has been able to expose the shockingly low quality and standard of education of our primary school students, where there was mass failures in every year’s Standard V Assessment Examination.
There are many people who are very unhappy about this. The foremost is the MCA, which in the last few years had been trying to hide the brutal results from the knowledge of parents and the public. There was a conspiracy of silence for the last five years, which has now been broken by the DAP.
Although the MCA is most unhappy that the truth is out, for they know that they are responsible for this deplorable collapse in educational standards, they could not openly dismiss the whole issue. They have also to give at least lip-service concern about this problem, while at the same time, trying to find some means to downgrade the gravity of the problem by making use of other personalities outside the organization. The parents should not allow this MCA trick to work, and I have no doubt that the parents, having the concern of their children close to heart, can differentiate between those who are trying to find excuse to justify the present low standards and those who are really trying to find solutions.
A few weeks back, I had met a principal of an English primary school who asserted that there was nothing wrong in having 50 per cent of the students failing in their examinations. He said that the schools not only teach the students to study well, but also develop them socially, cultural and morally.
I had thought such a school principal a disgraceful specimen of the present educational system. What surprises me is that in the last few days, one or two Chinese school teachers are using the same argument to justify the present low standard of education. For instance, it is said that because of the automatic promotion system, having 50% failures is nothing surprising. One would have thought that to such a person, he had expected probably 80 per cent of the students to fail as the natural order of things! There is the added argument that we should not be examination-minded.
I do not know whether such people are talking in all sincerity, or are just trying to deflect public attention to a very grave educational, social and even economic problem.
I do not believe that such attitudes are the opinions and views of the overwhelming majority of the teachers, whether from Chinese, English, Tamil, or Malay schools. I believe that the majority of the teachers, having for the first time learnt of the shocking mass failures in schools, are really concerned and would like to do something about rectifying the situation only if someone will take the lead.
Finally, there is an argument that we should not worry too much about Std.V Assessment Examination, as the L.C.E. and M.C.E. level are more important in terms of job-opportunities. I am indeed shocked beyond expression that any teacher should ever think that weak primary base has nothing to do with even weaker secondary school performance.