Closing Tamil schools may lead to a loss of identity ?
Topic started by SSPjanS (@ 188.8.131.52) on Sun Jun 8 03:37:06 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.
K. RAVINDRAN is a gardener with dreams. "I want my daughter to become a doctor," says the 42-year-old.
Recently, he and his wife heard a radio broadcast advertising nominally- priced extra lessons given by the Sri Murugan Centre (SMC), an education-
related non-governmental organisation.
From now on, his 15-year-old daughter will spend her weekends at the centre, doing whatever it takes to inch her way to her father's vision.
Meanwhile Ravindran, who tends the garden in a Petaling Jaya school, has an after-hours job as a karate instructor. The extra money is set aside
for her education.
"I will try my best for her in whatever way I can. I will see people to ask for a scholarship," he says.
How sound a plan this is remains to be seen. There is no shortage of anecdotes about how hard it is - particularly for the poorest members of the community - to get any kind of study aid.
In his own family, a relative scored 7As in her SPM last year but failed to get financial assistance.
There is also one more bridge Ravindran's daughter must cross and cross with confidence. Having come from a Tamil primary school, she must beat the odds and excel in her national secondary school if she harbours any hope of getting a scholarship.
Like many children with a vernacular primary education, she must now lead her academic life completely in Bahasa Malaysia.
And unlike Chinese schools, the average Tamil school is too short on morale and resources to produce confident, well-grounded students who will not flounder upon entry into national schools.
Picking up the shortfall are organisations like the SMC and the Education, Welfare and Research Foundation (EWRF) which conduct classes
and other programmes to propel Tamil school children into the mainstream.
One project conducted by the Taman Tun Dr Ismail branch of EWRF takes place at a Tamil school in Semenyih, about 40 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.
Those who come for the extra classes on Sundays are largely children of plantation workers, many of whom do not even enjoy running water in their homes.
Like Ravindran, they are full of dreams.
"I want to be a lawyer," says one nine-year-old girl. Others echo her, interchanging the ambition with "doctor", "engineer" and "teacher".
Yet, among this group aged seven to 12, are those who cannot write or even draw, who falter with their ABCs and who, in their UPSR year, cannot speak or understand Bahasa Malaysia.
This is the dismal public face of Tamil education, highlighted time and again in news reports, academic papers and political addresses.
To many, Tamil schools are notoriously backward, poorly-funded, badly- managed and lacking in even basic facilities. Those who favour closing them down claim they contribute little, if at all, to the development of the community.
Some go even further, blaming them for the social problems riddling the Indian community.
"But the consequences of closing them down will be far greater," says lawyer Sathish Ramachandran, who is also a volunteer with EWRF.
"You shut down Tamil schools you will see the lower-income Indian being totally displaced."
Sathish is one of a growing number of individuals who are concerned that closing Tamil schools will lead to a loss of culture, identity and direction.
"Tamil schools are always situated near a temple. This is because their lives centre around school and temple, community and education.
"Take that away and these kids will have to go to Government schools. There is no real difference in cost, but they will lose touch with their identity.
"They won't do things like sing the devaram (Hindu devotional) in the morning, they won't be observing all the Indian festivals."
This loss of identity will be felt most keenly in the political realm.
"The Barisan Nasional traditional supporter is the Indian, the lower- income Indian, and a lot of MIC members are Tamil school headmasters.
"If you abolish the schools, it's detrimental to the MIC and to the Indian community, because Indian political representation gets watered down."
Like many in the community, his views are born of pragmatism rather than partisanship.
"When Lunas State Assemblyman Joe Fernandez died, to be honest, the main reason I was upset was that we (the community) lost one seat."
Another proponent of the Tamil school system is Kumar Menon, Senior Director (Special Projects) of Stamford College Bhd.
"Tamil schools are the last vestige of Indians in this country. If you remove that from the landscape, there isn't any other visible presence."
Preserving the language, he says, is vital for political resonance.
Though full integration is the preferred goal in Malaysia, "in the interim for the Indians, language is the manifestation of continuing identity in this country".
"Once it's taken away, there is very little left."
There is also an additional political point.
"Political, economic and social programmes are divided along ethnic lines. In order to have any kind of place, we must maintain the individual strengths of the community.
"What else is there to argue that we are in this country as an Indian community? Language is the glue."
Indeed this was the case with Chinese education. Though several different dialects are spoken by the community, there is only one standard script.
But how effective would this be within the local Indian community where there are numerous written, spoken and published languages?
"We really need to understand that our progress here is dependent on the strength of the ethnic group. If you don't have an ethnic group to argue your case, you have nothing."
Menon, whose own mother tongue is Malayalam, believes that the Tamil language can be a unifying tool to create a successful political identity.
"The Tamil language is important and other lingual factions in the Indian community should suspend disagreement over Tamil schools, support their development and perhaps incorporate other Indian languages into the system."
- From: PROF VIEW (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Sun Jun 8 03:41:33 EDT 2003
Tamil schools, sacrificial lambs of a political agenda
Prof P Ramasamy
12:17pm, Tue: Of late, discourses on the nature and development of Indian community in Malaysia have invariably touched on the issue of Tamil schools in the country. One view is that Tamil schools given the poor performance of students, their lack of modern facilities, their location in the interior and others are hindering the progress of the Indian community.
Adherents of this view feel strongly that Tamil schools should be gradually phased out in the coming years. Another view examines the schools' system form a cultural and emotional point of view.
It is argued that since Tamil is rich in meaning and ideas; some even go the extent of saying that learning and understanding Tamil might unlock answers for future problems!
The above two positions on the future of Tamil and Tamil schools is untenable for a number of reasons. The first view that regards Tamil schools as the source of the problems is a very simplistic and naive one to say the least.
Tamil schools themselves do not constitute a cause rather their existence is the effect of how the Indian community has developed over the years. In other words, the state of Tamil schools and their poor performance is nothing but a reflection of the political, social and economic position of the Indian community.
Today, if the community is developed and self-sustaining, the Tamil schools' system would have been quite dynamic, something like the Chinese schools. But because the community is poor and deprived in many ways, the Tamil school system has also suffered as a consequence.
This particular approach rather than examining the political economy of the Tamil educational system, tends to focus merely on those effects that have been caused by the interplay of larger societal forces.
Apart from basic theoretical flaws, this approach tends to underestimate the political dangers in pursuing this kind of reasoning.
Calling for termination of Tamil schools not only deprives the Indian community of its nationality right to learn and speak the language but also undermines the deep emotional and cultural attachment the community has for the language.
Such attachment is no different from what the Chinese, Malays and other nationalities have for their respective languages. The question here: why should Indians alone be told to sacrifice their language and their school system?
Beyond this, the proponents of this view do not have any scientific basis for the rejection of the Tamil school system. It is merely an assertion among some sections of the middle and upper middle class who have a simplistic understanding of the plight of the Indian community. Some of them do not even the speak the language and are even shy to admit that they are Tamils in the first place.
The real issue is something else; the colossal failure on their part not to acknowledge the real problems faced by Indians having their roots in the racial policy of divide and rule.
The other popular argument is the way the language is very often exalted to a point of insanity. While Tamils should be proud of their language, there is not reason to deny the importance of other languages as well.
Pursuing the kind of argument to its extreme only makes a mockery of the Tamil language. Tamil is no different from other languages in terms of its historical greatness. But beyond this, it is merely a mother tongue to millions of Tamils around the world.
While nobody should deny Tamils the right to learn and speak their mother tongue, the language itself is not superior or inferior to other languages. Like others, it has grown and developed in its various aspects as result of the interaction of various people in the world.
To say that the language has a secret that is waiting to be unlocked actually contributes to nothing but merely to highlight chauvinism on the part of some members of the community.
For the Indian community in Malaysia, Tamil language constitutes an integral part of its existence and identity. No sane member of the community would want to part with this right, immaterial of the costs of sustenance.
Rather than blaming the language and its school system, we should first find out why the community and its school system has suffered over the years. Is it because of the inaction on the part of the government or is it because on the inability on the part of the Indian elite to provide the kind of representation for the community over the years?
There is really nothing wrong with the language or the Tamil school system. The real problem lies in the nature and manner of the un-development of the Indian community over the last 43 years or so.
The non-interest shown by the government in addressing the fundamental problems of the community is the real reason why
Indians have become marginalised in the country.
The Tamil school system is one particular aspect of this marginalisation and there are others. Unless and until comprehensive
policies are devised to deal with the whole range of issues, groups and communities without the power of numbers would have a dim prospect of progress in the country.
To call for the termination of the Tamil school system would really mean playing into the hands of racists who have been long arguing that the vernacular system in the country is the main reason for the lack of national integration.
As we are more than aware, the real reason for the lack of racial integration in the country is the racial policy of the BN regime that refuses to acknowledge the equality of all races in the country.
- From: DR VIEW (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Sun Jun 8 03:42:42 EDT 2003
Malays hold the trump card for Indians
Dr Ananthan Krishnan
3:48pm, Tue: I admire the audacity of Prof P Ramasamy for his recent comments in his article OPP3's tasty morsel to fatten the
Indian elite (April 7). Truth will bear ample testimony to this platitude, I cannot but agree to his logical argument, particularly on
the plight of the Indian Malaysians and the effect of capitalistic approaches on the socio-economic status of the marginalised
predominantly labour community.
Capitalists, to a large extent, can survive if there is an exploitable, subservient working labour class. Colonial imperialists created this large pool of menial workers by importing South Indians of the Dravidian origin, reputed for their servility, a by-product of the pernicious caste system of the Arya Brahmin clergy.
These Indians were the preferred 'commodity' to maximise profit and minimise labour cost. Notable among the characteristics of this group were: unquestioned loyalty to the capitalistic feudal barons, willing obedience to the orders of the boss, content with what they earn and non-rebellious nature against the authorities even if the latter are wrong! Hence the Indians were the perfect models of a working class.
Silenced, oppressed and ignored , these Indians were trapped in their own niche, relying only on the news and information dished out by the colonialist, who guarded the precious servility with undiminished vigour. The British feudal barons ensured these labourers did not change for the better.
After independence in 1957, the power changed hands from the British to the Alliance, also led by elites. Capitalism continued
unabated, now controlled by the Umno Alliance feudal barons.
MIC, which became a party to the Alliance, derived its seminal inspiration from the Indian Congress, a party created largely by the Indian Aryans (Gandhi was from the Kashtriya class, next to the all-powerful Brahmin clergy class). MIC's early leaders were from the professional and business class, hence MIC inherited the feudal-like class and caste-based culture; even today this culture is discreetly preserved by the MIC leaders.
There was very little chance for the Indian labour class to break out from the fetters of feudalism: They did not have the education, the audacity, or the spirit. Only when labour unions started to become a potent force, thanks to communism, that the Indians started to demand for better deals with their feudal barons.
But they were never successful: The RM325 per month minimum salary for estate workers of the new third millennium bears ample testimony to this misery.
Racism, feudalism and capitalism were the triple curses that kept the Indians in darkness. Misled by the fallacy of the high per capita income of Malaysia, with a few Indian tycoons blowing their trumpets, the lay Indians remained mesmerised, unable to mount a struggle against the mighty capitalistic giants who, having tasted the pleasures of worldly riches and power, never wanted to lose their heaven on earth.
Until now there is hardly any reasonable avenue for the majority of the Indians to emancipate from the clutches of economic tyranny of the oppressed culture. Unless racism in politics is abandoned and there is fair distribution of the nation's wealth to all races, it will be a bleak future for the Indians.
A three percent stake for the Indians in the OPP3, as what Prof Ramasamy says, will be a political rhetoric, just to excite and silence the Indians, giving them the usual false hope, which the Umno-Barisan Nasional coalition has been doing since independence.
A new worldview, which transcends the primitive limitations of race and creed, must be created, nurtured and established. Only when the Malays interact with the Indians, without prejudice, bring them into the mainstream of politics, will we be able to see a
The Malays hold the trump card for the Indians, they must shed all negative feelings and fear, mingle and mix, share power, and engage in the decision-making process with the Indians. This can only be made possible by a multiethnic Malay-based party.
Thank God the Malays took the bold step to create Keadilan, a ray of hope for the Indians.
Let the Indians seize the opportunity, strike when the iron is hot, move in with the new age Malays, build a new multiethnic political culture and claim their rights, and forge ahead with their urge to emancipate from the fetters of feudal dominion.
The civilising process supports the cohesion of the peoples of the world. Racism becomes an evil force in this process. Indians must discard narrow racism which has hindered their progress and step ahead with the new age Malays who have decided to embark on the road to a more advanced multiethnic politics.
- From: Radhakrishnan E (@ )
on: Wed Jul 23 23:54:34
I am from Tamil Nadu.
I want any job in malaysia. Could you help me sir.
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