There is a need to review the national education policy as it has failed to unify the nation, said an academician today.
Malaysian Directors Academy (Minda) director Muhammad Rais Abdul Karim further noted that the policy was also unable to cultivate multilingual rural Malay students, in light of the influx of China investment.
Rais, who was appointed into a royal commission to enhance the operation and management of policy in 2004, brought up these issues when he elaborated on government policies at an economic governance forum.
"If Lembaga Tabung Haji is a good policy, I would put a question mark on the national education policy," said the part-time lecturer from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.
Rais said when the education policy was formulated in the 1960s, it was meant to promote unity via one school, the national schools, using Bahasa Malaysia as the medium.
"After almost 60 years, only English medium schools were abolished but vernacular schools remained. Due to political constraints, the end result was not as expected," he added.
"This was quite detrimental to the betterment of Malays compared to the non-Malays."
Rais said the Malays, particularly those in rural areas, lagged behind in terms of mastering the English language.
The parents then began to switch to Chinese schools, which helped their children to improve their English proficiency and mathematics, he added.
Citing his own research few years ago, Rais said the national schools failed to achieve the purpose of unity as the students comprise 90 percent Malays and 10 percent non-Malays.
The national education policy was formulated following the 1956 Razak Report, named after the then-education minister Abdul Razak, who later became the second prime minister of Malaysia.
Rais said the proposal of a single education system had drawn flak from many quarters in the education sector.
He added that the unity in Singapore is still intact after the city state opted to abolish its vernacular schools and use English as the medium.
Rais stressed that it is necessary now for Malays to master the Mandarin language.
"If we want to have this environment (investment from China), we have to keep our mind focused, we do not have much choice," he said.
"Of course we want the national language as the pride of the nation, that doesn't mean we cannot speak other languages."- Mkini