Mandarin is no longer a language that only more traditional Chinese families would encourage their kids to learn.
According to History In An Hour, “global citizens who have become used to communicating with one another in English as the lingua franca might wish to keep an eye on the future: Chinese language influence is on the march and could very well overtake English as the main language of communicating across linguistic borders.”
“As the world continues to globalize and continues to emphasise the importance of commerce and communication, we must look at economic and social trends. Both lead to China dominating the 21st century.
Evidence shows that this is already happening. China is now the world’s second largest economy. Although the US GDP is approximately twice as large, China’s is growing at a rate that is up to three times as fast. Per capita income is rising in China – unevenly, but in a pattern where more of the Chinese population has some disposable income. The US per capita income is stagnant and even shrinking for a significant number of its economic base.”
Just a couple of years ago, Mark Zuckerberg stunned his Chinese audience by speaking Mandarin during his interview at the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management’s x-lab session.
Just about a year ago, we observed that SJK (C) Choon Hwa Batu 18, in Hulu Langat, Selangor is seeing more non-Chinese students in recent years as Malay and Orang Asli parents are sending their children to Chinese schools. According to The Star’s report, only 2 out of 32 are Chinese.
And according to Sin Chew Daily, Jiao Zong chairman revealed that the number of Malay students throughout the country increased from 55,978 in 2010 to 66,647 in 2014, an increase of 10,671 students. They made up of 11.7% of total number of students in Chinese primary schools.
More than just for the sake of learning Chinese language, there’s larger issue that our educational system is facing. There is a huge possibility that the chinese school can replace the national schools and the national school will eventually become schools for only Malay students.
According to MCA’s religious harmony bureau head Ti Lian Ker, many heads of department’s, city council presidents, exco members and Umno leaders and other parents want to boost their children’s Mandarin or English language skills and education by sending their kids to international and chinese schools.
However, there seems to be a conflict between the gomen officials parents’ attitude towards chinese school in public and in private. “Many of them send their children to chinese schools, but publicly, some of these politicians are very apprehensive towards chinese schools.”
“It is a paradox,” he said, “many of these chinese leaders would send their kids to english schools (or international schools) but they fight (in public) very hard to encourage people to send their kids to chinese school to keep the chinese schools.”
“People are very selfish.” he added, “On one hand, they are dictated by the prospect and future of the education for the children.”
“Many Malays are going to China to do business now (in clothing industry, etc.). The recognition of Chinese (Mandarin) language as a lingua franca in commercial dealing is as important as English in the older days for anyone to move up the corporate ladder. It’s all about the marketability of the language.”
FMT reporter asked, “The council also found out that many non-malay parents do not want to send their kids to the national schools because they are too islamic.”
Ti replied, “In the past, the government school was attractive because the educators were originally trained in England. They came back with education in their mind. But when the principals were changed into someone who are nationalist or religious fundamentalist, they wanted to show that they are contributing to their race or religion by disrupting whole school system and culture which may not blend in well with students and the environment of the school.”
“Many parents are concerned and worried. When they see things are not developing to their liking, they are not going to send their children to those schools. I had mentioned before that I wanted to send my kids to the kebangsaan schools, but I had to see that the kebangsaan school are serious in teaching the mother tongue languages [other than the national language]. [However], they kept these [mother tongue languages] classes empty without any teacher to run it and they were not serious enough to attend to the problem.”
He should also said that many of the non-malays were afraid that if the kebangsaan school were opened to threaten the existence of the chinese schools.
“Kebangsaan schools should be more liberal. If they want to be more religious, they should call it a religious school so people would have a choice. [The national schools] should opened up to cater to the needs of the students. For example, you do not have to force everybody to learn Bahasa Malaysia by sacrificing Chinese, Tamil, or English language.
According to former council member, Teo Kok Seong, based on the two years research, national schools only had 4% non-Malay students, while the chinese schools have 18% non-Chinese students. He also added that these figures are expected to go up each year.
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