Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shortchanging the Orang Asli in Education

The story of Sekolah Kebangsaan Bihai where four Orang Asli students were slapped continues to hog the limelight. It seems that the education woes of children in the Pos Bihai villages amount to more than that unsavory incident. Arom Asir – who is viewed by locals as their representative after the previous tok batin (village chief) died and no replacement has been appointed – highlighted that the 200-odd pupils of SK Bihai are only taught for three days in a schooling week, which in Kelantan is from Sundays to Thursdays.

The teachers are said to only come in on Sunday and therefore cannot teach, so they teach from Monday to Wednesday, and by Thursday noon, they are already preparing to go back home. Arom, who is also SK Bihai Parent-Teachers Association deputy chairperson, explained that this was so because all 12 teachers in the school were outsiders and all made their lengthy journeys back to their respective hometowns in Kelantan during the weekend.

On top of the limited school days, Arom said, it was very frustrating for the parents to find, following the slapping incident, that their children have been given lessons on religion over other critical subjects. None of the villagers, he stressed, are Muslims.

Like all parents, they have high hopes for their children. As Arom said their wish is that “our children can become smart and go to university”. Instead he expressed regret that many of the Year Six pupils sent to the secondary school in town still cannot read and write. “This causes the teachers there to say the Orang Asli are stupid, but the fact is that they are not properly taught here,” Arom said. He added that even during days when the teachers are around, they often do not go to the classrooms. And the parents do not even receive any report card for their children.

No wonder Malaysian education standards are plunging.

The PR-organized Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat roadshows continue to travel the country. One of these was in Penampang, Sabah on November 25, 2012:

Another was in Alor Setar, Kedah on December 07, 2012:

And another was held in Nibong Tebal, Penang on December 15. More than 15,000 people attended as these photos show:

Also in other places such as Kerdau, Pahang on December 09 and Dungun, Terengganu on December 14. I daresay Malaysians are ready for change! Bring on GE13!

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