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Monday, July 17, 2017

KJ: Is there political courage to abolish vernacular schools?

Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar today questioned if anyone in politics dared abolish vernacular schools, even if it was a popular proposition to promote unity in the country. 
"With abolishing vernacular schools, who has the political courage to do that? 
"It's an ideal because you want to have everybody going to the same school as an element of unity... but it's a tough one. 
"At the moment I don't see either side (of the political divide) doing this," he said during the TN50x session organised by Petronas staff in Kuala Lumpur today. 
TN50x sessions are privately organised offshoots of Putrajaya's ongoing Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) dialogue sessions, which provides a platform for the public to state their aspirations for 2050.
Abolishing vernacular schools was a popular idea among the estimated 250 Petronas employees present. 
"I am passionate about having a united Malaysia and I feel that one of the most effective ways to achieve this is for us to abolish the current vernacular education system, and replace it with one national education (system)," said an audience member who identified himself as Azlan.
What about Malay-only schools?
A presentation by a group of Petronas employees also outlined a similar aspiration.
"In 2050, we would like to see that children are united and integrated under one national school (system)," said the presenter.
Following this, Khairy asked the audience if they supported the idea of abolishing vernacular schools, to which most raised their hands. 
While admitting he was inspired by how former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew abolished vernacular schools in favour of an English-medium national school system in 1987, Khairy highlighted the complexities which made similar policies difficult for Malaysia.
"The moment you say close down vernacular schools, the other side of the argument is what about your fully residential Malay schools? 
"That has to go also, to be fair. It's rewriting the social contract, (it's) a big deal. 
"Are we ready for that?" he asked, which was met with silence from the audience.
New assessment methods needed
Meanwhile, there were calls for a more holistic education system that incorporated values,  knowledge and entrepreneurship, plus a suggestion to remove examinations from primary schools entirely. 
"This is (a) very popular (aspiration), not just at (this) Petronas (session). 
"But parents are also used to exams, the moment there are no exams, parents will complain (asking) 'how do I benchmark my child?'
"We have to also be prepared for an alternative assessment system," said Khairy.
TheTN50x dialogue session, entitled "Profesional Muda Petronas Merencana Masa Depan" (Petronas young professionals shape the future), was jointly moderated by Khairy alongside Petronas upstream development and production senior vice president Adif Zulkiflee. 

Aside from employees and top management, Petronas board chairman Mohd Sidek Hassan and Petronas group president and chief executive officer Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin were also present.
Launched in January by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, TN50 aims to achieve a "bottom-up" approach to nation building by organising dialogue sessions with different sectors of society across the country.  
Previous sessions were held with youthwomen, the civil service, the entertainment industry, drug users and a selection of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.  - Mkini

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