Malaysia worried about education system 'dividing' students

Posted on August 27, 2007  /  5 Comments

An education system that provides for different mediums in schools should not be allowed to split students, Malaysian Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said. “We have the national schools, Chinese and Tamil schools, religious schools, private and international schools. Like it or not, this is the reality of our education system today. 

“But we cannot allow our education system of various mediums to divide our children,” he said at the national-level Student Leaders Unity and Integration Programme. 

Hishammuddin pointed out that because of the country’s history, rural and urban areas and the divide-and-rule policy of the colonialists, the nation had established schools of different mediums. 

As such, he said the six-day programme was borne out of a pragmatic and realistic idea of allowing students of various races to interact and work with each other. 

The programme also allowed the students to get to know each other better, he added. 

Hishammuddin also said that although the younger generation was now labelled as having negative perceptions, a majority of the students were trustworthy and could be entrusted with responsibilities. 

They could be depended on when defending the sovereignty and independence of the nation, he said.  



  1. This issue is there in Sri Lanka too. One reason why we have an ethnic issue blown to such serious proportions is the fact that after 1950s the students studied in separate schools. There was very little interaction between the children, so they grew up in mono-ethnic environments inheriting all the closed thinking of their respective societies.

    It is sad that even today some people promote the concept of educational institutes based on religious grounds. Even in Grade One admissions issue this has become a noteworthy criterion.

    When do we able to rise up from our petty religious and ethical constrains and think as Sri Lankans?

  2. In Malaysia the government only funds Malay language schools. The national exams (SPM/SPTM – equivalent to O & Alevels) are only held in Malay. Even Malaysian students studying in international schools have to do compulsory local subjects.

    The Sri Lankan government providing funds for Tamil language schools and Islamic uniforms for Muslim students, has only made the problem worse by allowing these minorities to avoid assimilation with the national culture. We should follow Malaysia’s example for national integration by discouraging separate ethnic-minority identities.

  3. @JUSTMAL,

    Not that we have not tried following Malaysia, but we badly failed. Why do you think we want to make Sinhala the only official language in 1956, knowing very well that Sinhala is not poised up for that and doing so will obviously have negative impact not just on minorities but on Sinhalese as well?

    In other words, we used every available opportunity (Sinhala Only policy, standardization, 1958, 79 and 1983 riots) to forcefully ‘naturalize’ (‘Sinhalize’) the minorities. Unlike their Malaysian counterparts, Sri Lankan Tamils vehemently opposed and we all know what followed.

    Therefore, please do not advocate repeating failed experiments. If Ca precipitates Ag from AgCl in 1956, it will do so in 2007 too. Please do not expect any different results.

  4. I think Sinhalisation has work splendidly. There are so many Tamils and Moors in the South who use Sinhala as their first or primary language. Many of the “Sinhala” Karavas in the coast were originally Tamils. It’s an uphill struggle, and a continuing one.

    Sri Lanka only needs two languages, and Tamil isn’t one of them. Multi-culturalism is a failed experiment the world over.

  5. @JUSTMAL,

    What a funny argument! So just because some set of Tamils (living in a majority Sinhala area) became ‘Sinhalised’ you thing the formula will work for the entire country. What a funny man you are, Justmal.

    For your kind information, this phenomenon of ‘naturalisation’ has seen in the opposite way. For examples the Koviars which constituted 7% of the Jaffna district population in 1948, were earlier Sinhalese.

    It was natural that minorities becoming ‘naturalised’ in a society they do not have a dominant power. That happened everywhere.

    However, in the present circumstances, that will not happen and even tying for such impractical ‘solutions’ is useless.

    Have not we already leant the lessons of these useless experiments? Already 70,000 died. How many more we want to die till we get some senses?

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