I had just read a response to my comment on the Education Malaysia blog. In it, the author claimed that I was “out of sync”. So, this got me thinking if I am truly out-of-sync with our education issues. Granted, I have left school for more than a decade and I do not have any school going children. However, the issue of Chinese schools being better than National schools have been ongoing since before I went to school. So, while the players may have changed, the arguments have not changed much.
Sigh. Ad nauseum
The reason that I had pointed out John Lee’s statement is because I doubt that either Kian Ming or Tony Pua would have made sweeping statements like he did without the numbers to back them up. In fact, that is all I was asking for – the necessary facts to back up his statement. As evident in some of my previous posts, I’m biased because I personally think that all vernacular schools in Malaysia should be shut down.
But the question here is whether or not I am in-sync or out-of-sync.
Anyone who reads Coltz’s reply to my statement can immediately see that he does not have any numbers to back up his statement either. He has to infer that that Chinese schools are better from a bunch of disconnected ‘facts’. Or are they? Correlation does not imply causation.
Firstly, he pointed out crime rates in schools. While I am not sure if the police actually publish statistics down to that level of granularity, I do have a simple answer to his assertion. There are more delinquents in national schools simply because the national school delinquents still bother to go to school. The Chinese school delinquents would have dropped out of school by then and are busy peddling VCDs in the market or earning some other form of work. That takes care of your bottom 30%.
Secondly, he posited that based on the National Math Olympiad results, there are a disproportionate number of top Chinese schools as opposed to National schools. So, I just quickly browsed through the list and this got me wondering, where were all the top National schools. Then, I suddenly recalled something from my past. My school never joined any National Math Olympiad. Instead, we joine the International Math Olympiad. I did okay enough. Granted, I do not know if this was still the practice today, but it is a possibility.
Thirdly, his assertion that Chinese schools have the ability to fire incompetent teachers, which may result in better teachers. Well, I would like to point out the fact that many of the Chinese schools do not even have teachers whom were qualified to be trained as teachers in the first place. Many of them enter teaching by first becoming a volunteer/substitute teacher at schools and then use that experience to then have the schools forward them for teacher training before being assigned as permanent teachers. This does not happen in national schools, which largely get teachers straight out of teacher training colleges. However, which is better is open to debate.
So, I’m not quite sure if I am in-sync or out-of-sync. Personally, I would like to think that my personal background does give me some insight into the system that I would otherwise not have.