KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — It is only fair that the Malay-dominated fully residential schools (SBP) be abolished too if vernacular schools were to go, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin suggested today.
In a report by Malaysiakini, Khairy was quoted highlighting the complexity of establishing a single-stream education system, while questioning whether there is political will to do it.
“The moment you say close down vernacular schools, the other side of the argument is what about your fully residential Malay schools?
“That has to go also, to be fair. It’s rewriting the social contract, [it’s] a big deal,” Khairy reportedly said in a dialogue session with staff members of oil and gas giant Petronas.
There are 69 SBPs across the country.
The schools are not exclusive to Malays or Bumiputera but are dominated by the ethnic majority, as the system was established in 1957 to offer opportunities to the group, especially those from the rural areas.
“Are we ready for that?” the Umno Youth chief asked later, only to be greeted with silence from the TN50x session, the privately-organised offshoot of Transformasi Nasional 2050 events.
Khairy’s question came after a person in the audience mooted the single-stream system, which was supported by many in the 250-odd crowd.
“With abolishing vernacular schools, who has the political courage to do that? It’s an ideal because you want to have everybody going to the same school as an element of unity... but it’s a tough one.
“At the moment I don’t see either side doing this,” he was quoted saying, referring to the political divide.
In May, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that although having only single-stream schools is the ideal to unite Malaysia’s multiracial society, the idea is sensitive and akin to a “political landmine”.
Earlier this year, a study by research firm Kajidata showed that nearly half of Malaysians polled opposed the proposal for a single-stream education system in order to foster unity, while another nearly half said they support the idea.