Race and religion in the Malaysian education system

Any idea or suggestion to remove the notion of race and religion from our failed education system is shot down like an enemy warplane. The Bumiputera zealously defend their rights to UiTM and university quotas while the non-Bumiputera (particularly the Chinese) cling on adamantly to the existence of vernacular schools.

After 64 years, it is high time for Malaysians and the new government to remove the notions of race and religion. It should be Malaysians first and not ethnicity. The best place to start would be in the education sector.

All racial quotas for admission into all government schools such as MRSM and Sekolah Berasrama Penuh should be removed and opened to all Malaysian students regardless of race, based on the idea of meritocracy. This prevents these schools from becoming “Malay-only schools”, allowing on-Malays to benefit from boarding school education.

The same applies to all public universities. UiTM can be opened to non-Malays while a quota for Malays is set for a certain period only, weaning off the plethora of support given to Bumiputera. Eventually, all public education institutions should remain free from racial quotas such that admission and awarding scholarships are built on the foundations of meritocracy.

This will allow the Malays to progress both socially and economically, removing the need for the largest race in Malaysia to be constantly hobbling on the crutches provided by the government. If such quotas are removed abruptly, the Malay race may find itself being unable to compete equally with the non- Malays and the disparity between the two camps would be exacerbated.

Some sacrifices

Given that the Bumiputera will be sacrificing something of great importance and sensitivity, the non-Bumiputera must be prepared to part with something of value too. 

These Malaysian schools entail students of all races and religious learning together in the same school campus and environment. Race and religion discrimination should be barred in all schools and teachers must be taught to treat all students of different races equally or face immediate suspension. There needs to be an end to “Melayu malas” or “Cina balik Tongsan” or “India Samseng”.

A standardised education stream and school type allow for every Malaysian student to experience the same educational environment and experience, allowing for a stronger form of national unity to be formed through shared experiences. The notion that certain types of vernacular schools are better than others is detrimental and should be eradicated.

In a multi-religious society like Malaysia, students cannot remain in a protective bubble of ignorance and innocence from other religions. Students must learn to live alongside those from other religions and have a simple understanding of the practises and beliefs of each religion to foster greater understanding through the principle of muafakat.

To sum it up, whether the dragons of race and religion can be slain in Malaysia’s education hinges on the mindset of Malaysians. Are Malaysians going to stubbornly hide under their safety blankets of familiarity and comfort and be smothered by it?

Or will Malaysians wake up and cast aside that antiquated, superannuated blanket that they hung on to for 64 years at the expense of the nation and embrace the necessary change to Malaysia? 

Will Malaysians form a stalwart, unyielding unity regardless of race and religion that will prevail throughout the times or will such unity be ephemeral, a mere flash in the pan?  Only time will tell.

Happy Merdeka 

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