Memorandum by DAP Delegation to Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud, on the 3M implementation in primary schools on Thursday, 7.1.1982
Datuk Dr. Suleiman Daud,
Minister of Education,
Ministry of Education,
DAP Memorandum calling for:
(i) suspension of the 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools to honour government pledge that there would be no change of character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools against the wishes of parents;
(ii) Suspend the full implementation of the 3M system for all primary schools in the country beginning next year until an experimental period had shown that the 3M system is superior to the present education system.
Your announcement last week about the 3M implementation especially with regard to Chinese and Tamil primary schools has created such a national furore, and involves questions of nation building of such a fundamental nature that we in the DAP feel that it is very important to submit to you the following memorandum.
There is no doubt that without the use of Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act, the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools would begin to change if the 3M implementation in these schools involve:
(i) the abandonment of Chinese and Tamil languages as ‘operative’ languages for the purposes of writing basic textbooks and educational guidebooks for both the students and the teachers in Chinese and Tamil primary schools respectively;
(ii) the imposition of the rule that 50 per cent of songs to be sung should be Malay songs while the other 50 per cent are to be translations from Malay songs;
(iii) the treatment of Chinese and Tamil primary schools merely as ‘translated’ version of national primary schools.
The eternal preservation of Chinese and Tamil primary schools is a sensitive and fundamental question in Malaysia for the Chinese and Indian communities for it is a litmus test of the type of nation building policy the government is embarked on: whether it is a policy of integration, where Malaysian consciousness and identity is created out of the diverse races, cultures, languages and religions in the country with every one of them playing their distinctive part to enrich the final integrated product, or whether it is a policy of assimilation, where a Malaysian consciousness and identity is created through the eventual elimination of diverse cultures, values and customs in the country, with all conforming to one master model.
This is why the Chinese community had consistently demanded for the repeal of Clause21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act which vests the Education Minister with the power to convert Chinese primary schools into national primary schools. This is also why the Chinese community is opposed to the Recommendation in the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report which regards to continuation of the present system of Chinese primary schools as ‘temporary’, rather than as a permanent and integral part of the national education system.
In the light of the refusal of the government to repeal Clause21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act, and attitude as reflected in the Mahathir Cabinet Report as granting ‘temporary’ status to Chinese and Tamil primary schools, the 3M implementation which regarded Chinese and Tamil primary schools as mere ‘translated’ versions of National primary schools cannot but be seen as an attempt at administrative conversion of these schools.
Chinese and Tamil primary schools cannot be a mere translated version of national primary schools, for although all are Malaysian oriented to make the students of all schools Malaysians first and last, this common objective must be reached through the different cultural values systems.
It must be appreciated that the use of Chinese for instance, as a medium of instruction in Chinese primary schools is not just the learning of the Chinese language, for with the language, goes the fables and proverbs, and the learning of a whole value system and whole philosophy of life.
We cannot possibly make the Malays, Chinese or Indians in Malaysia lose their ethnic identities or cultural values, but should seek to harness their diversities to a common Malaysian national bond which transcends their ethnic or cultural ties.
As the present 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools is conceived on the basis of treating Chinese Tamil primary schools as mere ‘translated’ versions of national primary schools, which strikes at the very basis of a integrated policy of nation building, we call on the Education Ministry to immediately suspend the 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
This will not only honour the government pledge that there would be no change of character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools against the wishes of parents, but allow time for the 3M system to be re-formulated and implemented for Chinese and Tamil primary schools fully in conformity with their distinctive character.
The greatest defect of the 3M system is that whether for Chinese and Tamil primary schools or national primary schools, it had been formulated by a handful of Education Ministry officials without the interaction with teachers and even more important with the parents.
For instance, the Ministry of Education officials had completely disregarded the views of the teachers and parents in Chinese primary schools that the new teaching time allocated for English for the various primary school standards ate grossly inadequate. A Chinese primary school pupil will only begin to learn English language in Std. III, and for 60 minutes a week as compared to 120 to 150 minutes a week at present. In Std. V and VI, the 3M system provides for 90 minutes of English a week as compared to 180 to 210 minutes a week at present.
The 3M system as formulated by the Curriculum Development Centre is a completely new system, and although it claims to impart the 3M of reading, writing and arithmetic to the students, only time will tell whether the 3M system will impart more 3Ms than the present system, and not less.
What we should be aware of, however, is that although a system could be theoretically superior to another system, in practice, it could work out the reverse.
This is especially the case when there is inadequate preparation and planning for the implementation of the new 3M system. With the elimination of textbooks, the entire burden of ensuring that school children acquire learning skills is dependent on the teachers.
Have the teachers in the country been sufficiently trained and motivated to take on such a large responsibility? We can imagine that good teachers would be able to do a good jog, while irresponsible, unprepared or unmotivated teachers would be an unmitigated disaster for large numbers of school children.
The elimination of textbooks for pupils also removed parental participation in the education of their children, by helping their children to revise and monitor their progress.
The 3M system removes a yardstick whereby parents and even teachers can assess as to whether thei4r children are progressing or stagnating.
The 3M system removes a yardstick whereby Barents and even teachers can assess as to whether their children are progressing or stagnating.
The 3M system is also dependent on a small manageable class here the teacher can devote considerable individual attention to the students of different abilities. This is not the case with our schools, and Chinese primary schools are the worst with classes as large as 45 or 50, where the teachers would not be able to devote the type of individual attention intended by the 3M system.
The DAP suggests that the 3M system should be put through an experimental period before it is introduced for all schools in the country. Let the teachers and the parents have the opportunity to see and compare the results of 3M system and the present system, before a decision is taken to implement 3M system for all the schools in the country.
(Dr. Chan Man Hin) MP
(Lim Kit Siang) MP