Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hindraf calls for merit-based education

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: The government should scrap its racist-based education system and replace it with one based on meritocracy, Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) said today.

Hindraf London-based chairman P Waythamoorthy said it was time the Umno-led federal government overhauled the education system to keep pace with the global educational standards.

He said a meritocracy-based system was the only way forward for the country to attain excellence in education in the highly competitive world.

However, he said the objective can never be achieved if the Umno-led federal government is not sincere and serious.

“The government should revamp the education system to focus on meritocracy regardless of ethnic and religious origins to enhance the country’s human capital,” he added.

He was commenting on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's announcement at last weekend MIC general assembly that Indian students who score 9A+ in the SPM would be given public scholarships to pursue tertiary education.

Waythamoorthy said Najib’s promise was nothing more than a gimmick to raise false hopes.

“Why only 9A+? What about plain 9As and 9A-?” he asked.

He said Najib was trying to assuage the feelings of the Indian community when he announced the scholarship award to Indian students with 9A+.

“Predictably, MIC members gave the premier a standing ovation without understanding the dynamics of Umno political manipulation.

“They failed to comprehend that the 9A+ move was detrimental to the Indian community and the country at large,” he told FMT.

Stop gloating

Last month, Waythamoorthy brought up to the United Nations the BN government’s perceived systematic discrimination of Indian students for over half a century.

He addressed the issue to Geneva-based Githu Muigai, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

He also sent a copy of his complaint to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Asia and Pacific regional bureau for education office) in Bangkok, seeking Unesco's intervention to end the perceived marginalisation of Malaysian Indians.

In May, he updated and provided evidence to the UN Human Rights Council on the continued discrimination and marginalisation of minority Malaysians, especially Indians, and natives from Sabah and Sarawak.

According to education director-general Alimuddin Mohd Dom, some 7,987 of the 465,853 students who took the SPM last year obtained all As in all their subjects.

This includes 214 with A+, of which 41 were private school and agency-sponsored students.

Of the 52,348 candidates who took STPM in 2009, only 15 got 5As in all subjects.

Waythamoorthy said Najib should stop gloating over the fact that about 2,304 places were given to Indian students in 2010 when there were nearly a million seats available in all public universities in the country.

He alleged that the government was pursuing a racist policy by making sure that more than 120,000 places available in Universiti Technology Mara (UiTM) were reserved exclusively for Malay Muslim candidates.

Waythamoorthy said even though seats were increasing in public universities, the ratio was rapidly diminishing for the Indian community.

“The seats given to Indian students did not even represent 0.2% of the Indian student population.

“Is the prime minister trying to tell us that Indian students are so stupid that they do not deserve a place in public universities?” he asked.