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.
2 thoughts on “Out of Sync?”
1. This is a common argument in support of public schools, which I will not deny: delinquents tend to stay in public systems instead of out, and hence dragging down the overall image/statistics/atmosphere. Sure, it’s not “fair”. If I am an average student/parent though, what do I care? Do I want my kids to grow up with druggies in the gates or not? As far as school quality goes, that’s what most people care, regardless of whether the school achieved that through selectivity or not. Sorry public schools.
*Note that Chinese schools in general do not usually “drop” people due to poor performance alone (except a few notable ones), people are frustrated because they can’t advance a grade (rightly unqualified to do so) and they drop themselves out.
2. Interesting, as far as what I know from my school the country as a whole sends out international olympiad teams, not schools. Guess your school is/was better informed/endowed?
3. The interesting thing is that the so called “qualification” does not necessarily better prepare one for teaching than a combination of passion and on-the-job-training. I would not know what kind of training they went through in college, and hence cannot comment on how competent/incompetent it has made them. An identical situation is going on here in the US though, with the “properly trained” teachers crying foul because school systems are weeding out the worst among them and replacing them with Teach for America candidates. Lack of oversight can go a long way towards breeding incompetence, never underestimate it.
1. If you are an average parent, you will want your child to get the best opportunities that they can get in life. Except for the overseas minority, your child will have to live and work in Malaysia. In such a context, your child would be disadvantaged as he/she is likely to be less proficient in the English/Malay languages.
2. What I meant to say was that my school focused on the International Math Olympiad qualifiers instead of the National Math Olympiad. Things may or may not have changed now. The two things were separate.
3. That is why I said it was debatable. One group does not care while the other group does not know. Obviously, it would be best to get teachers who are both passionate and did well in school themselves. But when you have to pick one or the other, it is less clear which is better.