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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Split By Education

Recently at a Chinese New Year family gathering, a nephew and niece who is the product of private school from primary school to secondary school and who are now doing A levels in college expressed their disdain and inability to mix with "those who speak only Chinese". I also get the impression that they feel SPM is inferior to IGCSE. These are good kids but I feel that the system has split our kids.

In the past, everyone did the SPM. Those who attended Chinese school normally did so till primary level. In secondary school, the majority of school going kids were in Sekolah Kebangsaan and then everyone moved on together to do A levels in college either locally or overseas.

Now, it would seem that the majority attends private schools or Chinese primary schools for their early education. By the time they are in secondary school, they are split into private schools, Chinese Independant schools and Kebangsaan schools. Then they come back together to do their A levels and higher education.

However by the time they come back together, they have already been split in the way they think, the language they speak and the courses they did and the way they were educated (academic based vs a more holistic style) and sadly sometimes this leads to unhealthy prejudice in our young. Prejudice from an imperfect Education System.

Everyday you read in the papers about how our youngsters are split by race but has anyone considered the fact that the split is more than that. It is those who can afford vs those who can't. It is SPM vs IGCSE. It is English speaking vs Chinese speaking or other language. That is the divide that I am starting to see now that those who attended private school from primary school have started to graduate from secondary school.

I worry for my kids. I forsee unhealthy cliques by the time they do their A levels in college. For example, my child is from Chinese primary school, now in a secondary school where everyone speaks Chinese and will be doing her SPM. By the time she goes to college, she will meet people who like her cousins have studied in a completely different environment from her.

It is my wish that every parent will educate their child and teach them that it is wrong to be prejudiced against anyone just because they speak a different language from you. Those who speak mainly English are not more snobbish. Those who speak only Mandarin are not square. It is unfair to stereotype. Those who do SPM are not inferior or lesser than those pursuing IGCSE. Many of them study just as hard. It is not any easier to get good results for SPM as some of the kids and perhaps parents too seem to think.

I think our kids should be made aware of the situation and exposed to friends from not only various races but also educational background so that they do not become cliquish and stick to only "their kind". Even the Chinese are split among themselves between those who speak English and those who speak Mandarin. This divide across race and within race is really sad to see.

Our kids must be taught but first the parents must be aware and must not have any prejudice themselves. Can it be done? I hope so. There is no use in blaming the system. What we should do is teach our kids and prepare them so that they are not caught in  unhealthy cliques later on when they all come back together under the same educational institution again when pursuing the pre-u.

Good luck to all the SPM students who will be collecting their results for this year, 2015.


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