Tamil Schools . Then and Now.
Tamil education in Malaysia started when a Tamil primary school was established in the state of Pulau Pinang in 1816. Later, the estate management and the British government opened more Tamil primary schools when the rubber estates grew up in numbers by the end of the nineteenth century. Thus, by 1905 there were 13 government and Christian Mission Tamil schools in Malaya.
In the beginning, most of the schools did not last long due to lack of support and commitment from the estate management and there was no continuous effort from the Indian or Tamil community itself to sustain these schools.
The number of Tamil schools in Malaya had been increasing since thousands from India especially from the Southern part of India came to Malaya as labourers to work in the rubber, tea, coffee and sugar plantations. In order to attract more labourers and make them stay longer, the labour ordinance 1912 ensured that the estates management had to set up Tamil schools if there were more than 10 school going children in the estates.
However many estates owners refused to build Tamil schools for estate children and it caused the children to study in dilapidated buildings and former smoke houses. Furthermore, the government in those days had not allocated fund to build Tamil schools.
Between 1930 and 1937, there were some developments in Tamil education when the Indian government was concerned about the mistreatment of Indian labourers in Malaya. As a result, the Malayan Government set up a special committee to provide financial assistance to Tamil schools, appointed inspectors for Tamil schools and also started teachers' training. The number of Tamil schools had also increased tremendously. By 1938, there were 13 government, 511 estate and 23 mission Tamil primary schools in Malaya.
Before independence, the Tamil schools¡¯ curriculum did not have teaching of Malay and English languages. Emphasis was given only to reading, writing and arithmetic skills in the lower primary level and writing composition and geography was taught in the higher primary level.
After World War II, the government started to give serious attention to vernacular education by enforcing Education Law 1946. This Law emphasised on free mother tongue education and increased the grant provision to Tamil schools. This move paved the way to the increase of students in Tamil schools. Number of students increased gradually from 29,800 in 1946 to 38,700 in 1949.
Barnes Report 1951 with reference to the Malay education proposed the National Education Policy. It questioned the existence of Tamil and Chinese schools. As a reaction to this report, the Indian community set up a committee to protest the Barnes Report, which ignored mother tongue education.
In 1951, Indian Education Committee reviewed Tamil school education and proposed teaching of English in standard Four and Malay language in standard Five.
The children, on leaving the Tamil primary school, were absorbed into the working milieu of the estate. Parents themselves, mostly illiterate, did not see the value or purpose of seeking out a secondary education in Tamil. Apparently, most of them in the estates were able to lead comfortable lives compared to their counterparts left behind in India.
Razak Committee that was set up in 1956 brought about some changes in Vernacular education. This committee ensured Tamil school education and Tamil schools were classified as ¡°National Type of School¡±. More financial assistance was provided and remove classes were introduced for Tamil school children who intended to further their study at secondary schools in English. National based curriculum was proposed for all primary and secondary schools to instil unity and integration among various races in the country.
In 1960 Rahman Talib Committee proposed teaching of Malay language in standard One and English in standard Three in Tamil and Chinese schools. Since then more training opportunities were provided to Tamil schoolteachers and more Tamil schools were equipped with basic amenities.
There were 720 Tamil primary schools in 1963. The number decreased to 526 in 2000 when majority of Indians migrated from estate to urban areas due to conversion of rubber plantations to oil palm plantations and development of the estates as industrial and housing areas. There were 526 Tamil primary schools in 2004 and now in the year of 2011 have been reduced by 3.
Since 1970, Tamil primary schools have been witnessing visible improvement in the performance of the students, teachers' quality and fiscal conditions. More than 400 schools out of 523 schools have been provided with good buildings and basic amenities. More than 80% teachers in Tamil primary schools are trained teachers. The students also have been recording high passes in the public examination (UPSR). For example the passing percentage among Tamil schools students in 2001 was 40.1%. It rose to 57.6% in 2003. In 2001, 165 Tamil school students had scored 7As in the UPSR examination. It rose to 356 students in 2003. Eventually it stands now at 798 scoring 7A's in 2010 out of 16965 who took the exams from Tamil school.
Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and social organizations have been playing very important role in uplifting the standard of Tamil Primary schools in Malaysia. The Government funds were obtained by MIC to upgrade the fiscal conditions of Tamil schools. Some issues faced by Tamil schools also were brought to the government's attention and additional programs have been carried out to improve the performance of the students. In brief, the MIC has been the guardian of Tamil schools in Malaysia.
In 2002 Tamil schools have accepted the government's decision to teach Mathematics and science in English as one of the ways to acquire more knowledge and increase the competency of the students in English. Now Tamil schools have become more attractive and more middle class parents and professionals have started to send their children to Tamil schools.
As at 31 January 2004, there are 95,242 students in the 526 Tamil primary schools in Malaysia. It has risen from 87,710 students in 2002 continuously to 105618 in the year 2007. In the year 2010, the number of pupil took UPSR exam only have rose to 16,965. This shows the increase in the popularity of Tamil school among the Tamil community from all the layer of hierarchy.
Turning back the time back to 2001, when I was taking UPSR in my primary school, SJK(T)Senawang, merely was just more than an old dreadful shack. Now it have gone through an ultimate makeover worth RM4.2million and stand still so proudly. It was the Renaissance of Tamil Schools, era of Tamil schools entering the National dailies headlines, I was a part of it. 1 of the 7A's scoring students in Negeri Sembilan and the first in my school, 1 of the 165 nationwide on 2001. Me, Jagannathan, Sivanesh, Naveeyindren, Sarawanakumar, Shamini, Nalina, Nanthini, Devina; all of us from the same era of awakening from NS.
Even though we were from vernacular school, getting into the best school in KGV High School has been always the august dream of lifetime and continuously, only myself stepping into MARA Junior Science College is another major landmark. I believe I was able to achieve this just simply because not the results but what the results are for. There is a major variance, I would rather call it aberration, among the 7A scorers back in 2001 and now. Thats the reason why 798 7A's UPSR Tamil school pupils denied 12,440 MRSM, elite and fully residential schools.
Its just purely absurd greed of the Tamil School managements, headmasters and PIBGs'. All they want to do now is get in the headlines, more 7A scorers, more allocations, bank balance increase, daughters wedding, costly cars, luxurious bungalow, pride, dignity and the list goes. Its the quantity that matters now, not quality. Education transformed to a direct marketing. Its a fundamental frame of mind quagmire of Indians. Many are not cognizant of this, the teachers, leaders, parents or even the students.
The critical fact about this is that all the BAHASA MELAYU exam papers have been fully converted back to SJK paper instead of SK paper that use to be during my time. Its a paramount truth the standard of SJK paper is merely grit in comparison to SK paper standards. Its a well known fact that to enter MRSM, elite and boarding schools you would definitely need to have the SK paper taken on UPSR. I believe I dont have the necessity to explain the climax further. NO SK PAPER, NO HEADACHE, NO ELITE SCHOOLS.
So where are we piloting our generation of counterfeit intelligences? Should be we proud of this annually increasing digits of artificial smarties or sit back and think on the real educational value they have got? In another 10 years time, these baby-faces are the going to be the front-faces of the society and Indian community. Increased numbers? Feel proud? Think again!
வீழ்வது நாமாகிலும், வாழ்வது தமிழாகட்டும்!!!
தமிழை வாழ வைக்கும் தமிழனை வாழ வைப்பது எப்படி என்ற சிந்தனையோடு,
விஸ்வநாத் கலிய மூர்த்தி