Message by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim kit Siang, at the Seminar on “Falling Standards of Education in Chinese Primary Schools “ organised by the Johore DAP Education Sub-Committee held at Johore DAP State Headquarters at Klang on Sunday, 24th Sept. 1972 at 2 p.m.
DAP calls on all parents’ associations and Parent-Teacher associations to redefine their role in the education of their children
In the last two months, the question of the low quality and standard of education of our children in the primary schools, of all language streams, has become a burning issue in every home and coffee shop.
Many parents have now discovered that despite their sacrifice of blood, sweat and toil, to give their children a chance to go to school, their children are not being properly educated. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that 40 to 50 per cent of the children in primary schools do not know what they are studying about.
This is not because 40 to 50 per cent of our school children are duds, fools or mentally retarded, but basically because of some fundamental defect in the entire education system.
The quality of Malaysian education has deteriorated in the past decade. The government is aware of this shocking state of affairs, but does not want to do anything about it. In fact, it does not want the public to know anything about it. This is why the shockingly mass rate of failures in every year’s Standard V Assessment Examination had to be exposed by the initiative of the DAP.
I am glad that a very few teacher’s organisations have taken a concern about this grave problem of the shockingly low standard of education in our schools. The majority of the teachers’ organisations, however, are still indifferent to this grave problem. I hope that all teachers’ organisations will work together to probe the causes and find solutions for the low quality of education in Malaysian schools, with the same commendable determination and spirit which they exhibited when they fought for improved wages and better conditions of service.
The problem of low quality of education and mass failures, however, is not the problem of the teachers alone. Parents must also bear their responsibility.
I regret that in the last two months since the disclosure of the shockingly high rate of mass failures in primary schools, not a single parents’ association or parent- teacher association, had shown any interest or concern.
In fact, on looking back, it cannot be said that the parents associations or the parent-teachers associations have made any positive contribution to the cause of education in Malaysia, let alone to the standard and quality of education.
The majority of the parents’ associations and parent-teacher associations exist in name only. A large number join such associations because they can become officer bearers, and have an opportunity at least once a year, at their annual get-togethers, to rub shoulders with the big shots, and if lucky, even with the Minister of Education, Ministry of Education officials and other government big-wigs.
I believe that if the parents’ associations and parent-teacher associations should ask themselves whether if they had not existed, whether it would have made any difference to the education of their children or education in general, there is hardly any association which could in all conscience answer in the positive.
The failure of the parents associations and parent-teacher associations in Malaysia to make a positive contribution to the education of our new generation of Malaysians is the result of a wrong sense of values and mistaken notion of their function.
Parents’ Associations and parent-teacher associations are not meant to be socially meaningless organisations, just like a social club, but constructive and creative organisations to advance the causes of education of our children.
Parents’ Associations and parent-teacher associations should play an active role in co-operation with the schools to upgrade the quality, content and motivation of education of our children.
Thus, such parents associations should be directly involved with programmes and projects to find out the causes for the mass failures in primary schools in the past five years, and complement the efforts of teachers in schools to overcome this problem.
I therefore call on all parents associations and parent-teacher associations to redefine their role, and stop regarding themselves as that of a coffee-shop for chit-chat once a year when they meet to re-elect officials, but to work out a round-the-year programme to improve the educational standards of our children.