Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Tamil school problem still being ignored’

May 18, 201

IPOH: Tamil schools that were closed because of poor enrolment are not being substituted with new ones in semi-rural and urban areas to cater to the Indian community, the DAP claimed.

Party national vice-chief M Kulasegaran said that nearly 60% of Indian parents preferred to send their children to Tamil schools rather than national schools.

He also said that in Perak, there are over 17,000 pupils studying in Tamil schools – 9,000 in national schools and over 1,500 in Chinese schools.

“Over 70% of the 134 Tamil schools in the state are located in former estates and about 80 of them have an enrolment of fewer than 100 pupils,” said Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP.

“When the estates were fragmented or sold off , the Indians migrated to urban areas and there weren’t enough Tamil schools to cater for their children’s education.

“Clearly there is an anomaly. We urge the authorities to have a new mindset on the Tamil school problem and address them in a holistic manner,” added Kulasegaran.

He accused the MIC of not doing nothing for the past 54 years to address the declining number of Tamil schools, which has now reduced to 523 and is decreasing even further.

DAP is willing to put its political differences with MIC aside to work on a blueprint to ensure the status quo of Tamil schools in the country is maintained.

“We’re willing to have a candid talk with MIC to ensure a win-win situation for our community,” said Kulasegaran.

“Tamil schools with fewer than 100 pupils that have been closed must be replaced with new ones in urban areas.”

The DAP is concerned that without such a blueprint, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government may systematically closed these schools.

Election gimmick

Kulasegaran said that the vernacular system may suffer a slow death as more estates are fragmented resulting in the closure of Tamil schools.

His concern is that when schools with poor enrolment are closed, the government will not replace them with new ones in urban areas with an Indian population .

He said that the federal and state governments were implementing policies on an ad hoc basis.

“For example, Perak MIC chairman S Veerasingam has announced that Tamil schools (with low enrolment) will be relocated to four areas in Jelapang in Ipoh, Langkap near Teluk Intan, Taman Kaya in Taiping and Tun Sambanthan in Sungai Siput ,” Kulasegaran said.

“However, our investigation revealed that the areas are not feasible as they do not meet the education ministry’s guidelines for building new schools, which require at least five acres of land.

“We are concerned that this announcement could just be an election gimmick and for mere publicity to hoodwink the Indian community,” Kulasegaran said.

He alleged that on several occasions, MIC leaders had made empty promises of building new schools to replace the ones in the rural areas, which were shut down.

He claimed that the MIC had taken voters for a ride and had failed to safeguard the interests of Tamil schools in the country. He gave several instances:

  • for the past 20 years, at every election, the MIC pledged to relocate the Tamil school in Merlimau, Malacca;
  • there are Tamil schools that have been squatting in shophouses at Lukut since 2003 and nothing had been done to relocate them;
  • one Tamil school is located in a cinema in Ladang Brausnton, Jeram, Kuala Selangor; and
  • in Kajang there is only one Tamil school with about 1,800 pupils on a half-acre plot of land, whereas in Bandar Mahkota, Cheras, there are three parcels of vacant land measuring about five acres belonging to the education ministry.

“ Why can’t this vacant land be allocated for the construction of a Tamil school?” Kulasegaran asked.

“Though the nation has achieved independence for so many decades, many Tamil schools still don’t have electricity and water supply,” he said.


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