KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Bernama) -- Chinese education movement Dong Zong or
the United Chinese School Committees Association created another stir with a
recent anouncement that it is pulling out of the roundtable meetings of the
Education Ministry''s special committee to address the shortage of Chinese school
Early this year, the movement had created a stir when they staged a protest
claiming the Education Ministry was not working towards resolving the shortage.
Following that, a special committee was formed under a cabinet directive
involving various stake holders including Dong Zong to hold roundtable meetings
which eventually resulted in an eight-point plan to tackle the issue.
Despite this, Dong Zong held a protest at Era College in Kajang,
Selangor on March 25 but later continued to participate in the roundtable
discussions with other stakeholders and the Education Ministry.
But, two weeks ago, it announced another pull out from the roundtable
discussions even when four other bodies - Jiao Zong (the United Chinese School
Teachers Association), Hua Zong (the Federation of Chinese Associations), the
National Union of Teaching Profession and SJKC School Headmasters Association
continued to participate.
POLITICS-CHINESE EDUCATION 2 KUALA LUMPUR
The reason given for the pullout was that Dong Zong had wanted to discuss
education policy changes during the roundtable meetings but Deputy Education
Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong, who chaired the special committee, said they should
bring up matters related to policies during the National Education Dialogue.
Other stakeholders are of the view that Dong Zong should not have taken the
action as it was among the parties that have been fighting for the government to
address the shortage issue. They want Dong Zong to continue to sit in the
committee to monitor the implementation of the adopted plan.
Jiao Zong president Ong Kow Yee has openly said that it was a pity that Dong
Zong had to withdraw from the Roundtable Conference because of "policy issues",
as he believed that the roundtable was vital in ensuring that the problems faced
by SJKCs (National-Type Chinese Schools) could be settled.
"We have seen encouraging progress in the past in the government''s efforts
in solving the teacher shortage problem in SJKCs. So we think that Dong Zong
should not discard the opportunity offered by the Roundtable conference," he
Some educationists pointed out that the special committee set up by the
Education Ministry was decided by the Cabinet and has come out with systematic
measures to overcome the issue. This resulted in the eight-point plan that
has been agreed to by the Government.
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On March 27, the Education Ministry sent out service extension letters
to interim teachers in SJKCs, whereby school headmasters could nominate
teachers who met the criteria and the relevant state education department
directors would make the appointments.
Under the eight-point plan, the teaching of Bahasa Malaysia and English at
Level One in Chinese vernacular schools of Grade A and B will be carried out by
teachers who are qualified to teach the Chinese language at least at the Sijil
Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level.
While for under-enrolled schools, the teaching of Bahasa Malaysia
and English at Levels One and Two will be carried out by teachers who have
Chinese language qualifications at least at the SPM level.
The Education Ministry also came out with long-term initiatives to overcome
the teacher shortage problem in Chinese vernacular schools. One such initiative
was formulating the Add-on Option Intervention Programme (Program Intervensi
Tambah Opsyen or PITO) for teachers who do not have a Bahasa Melayu or English
option, and have taught a subject other than the Chinese language for over five
This course is expected to start by year end so as to not affect the
teaching and learning process in the classroom.
Apart from that, the number of Chinese Studies lecturers will also be
increased in teachers’ training institutes across Malaysia.
Despite all these efforts, Dong Zong still wants to pull out and this has
raised some questions whether it was a tactical move to exert pressure on the
government since it has been perceived to be aligned with the opposition
Therefore, it is not surprising that the boards of thirteen Chinese primary
schools in Johor Bahru are now pressuring Dong Zong to return to the roundtable
or quit the movement.
POLITICS-CHINESE EDUCATION 4 (LAST) KUALA LUMPUR
Political analyst at Sunway Monash University, Dr James Chin said the Dong
Zong pullout obviously was a political move as the movement wanted to put
pressure on the government to recognise the UEC examination, which has been
recognised by overseas universities, since the general election was coming.
"They think by putting pressure on the government and making more noise,
the government will give in," he said, adding that the pullout decision could
also be attributed to the fact that the current office bearers in Dong Zong have
to seek new mandate in the movement''s election.
"Therefore, their leaders are trying to be heroes in order to strengthen
their position as compared to their rivals in the movement," he said.
However, for Gerakan education and knowledge society bureau chairman Lau
Chin Hoon, Dong Zong should have another platform to talk about policiy matters
while using the roundtable to sort out the technical issue related to the
shortage of teachers in the Chinese schools.
"The way I look at it, I see both sides have not presented their facts and
figures. They have to provide such data in order to convince each other.
Roundtable is for the technical issue, you must have data to discuss," he said.
Based on the current situation, Lau believed it would be meaningless to
pursue or pressure Dong Zong to return to the roundtable as a better mechanism
to resolve the issue was to have another roundtable to discuss matters related
to policy level apart from the existing roundtable on technical issues.
AT MNY HA