NIAT all set for bigger battle
After the removal of the controversial Interlok novel, the movement is now focussing on revamping the education system for the betterment of the Indian community.
KUALA LUMPUR: The National Interlok Action Team (NIAT), which played a major role in forcing the government to withdraw the controversial novel from schools, is now planning to take the battle to the next level.
Speaking to FMT, the movement’s chairman Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim said NIAT would devise a new strategy to revamp the education system for the betterment of the Indian community.
In view of this, he said, the acronym NIAT would now stand for National Indian Advancement Team.
The philantrophist complained that the Malaysian education system was controlled by a single race and this was unfair to the non-Malays.
“The entire educational system has become rotten from head to toe because of a single race’s dominance and politcal stooges in high posts,” he added.
Thasleem, however, stressed that NIAT was not anti-Malay but rather opposed the racial monopoly of the education system.
“The standard of our universities has dropped because of vice-chancellors, deans and senior academic staff who are appointed due to political links and not academic excellence,” he added.
As for Tamil schools, Thasleem said despite the syllabus being the same with national and Chinese schools, Tamil schools fared poorly in the UPSR examination compared to the other two.
He said this was because Chinese schools were well financed while national schools came under the government’s care.
“So Tamil schools are the ones that are always disregarded,” he said. “Much has been said and written about the plight of Tamil schools in Malaysia. Now it’s time to start acting.”
‘NIAT will the national body’
Outlining NIAT’s immediate plans, Thasleem said the movement would collect the details of all 523 Tamil schools nationwide.
From this, NIAT would do a meticulous analysis and submit a recommendation to the Education Ministry to take action.
“NIAT will invite all the NGOs who are willing to cooperate with us on this matter,” he said adding that an official meeting would be held this evening at Wisma Tun Sambanthan here.
“We are going to focus not only on the education system, but also issues like better school buildings, better training for teachers, overcoming the shortage of teachers and increasing the enrolment of students in Tamil schools,” he added.
Thasleem said there were numerous independent organisation working on the development of Tamil schools, but there had been no significant progress.
“To overcome this, NIAT will act as the national body and all the smaller organisations can submit their reports to us, and we will send a proper paper to the ministry,” he added.
Fully-residential school needed
Meanwhile, Thasleem said that NIAT would also focus on the performance of Indian students in secondary schools.
“For the Malays, there is the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) while the Chinese have secondary schools financed by businessmen. But what about the Indian community?” he asked.
Citing socio-economic factors as the main reason behind the poor performance of Indian secondary school students, Thasleem said a fully residential secondary school for the Indian community was the best answer.
“In 1974, MIC forwarded a memorandum to the Education Ministry calling for a special residential school. Now, 38 years have passed but nothing has happened.
“This is a clear example of institutionalised racism implemented by the past leadership of Umno,” he said, adding that he had sent a letter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak regarding this.