Malaysia debates education

Ethnic-based education system accused of compounding racial divisions in a plural society.

    In Malaysia, parents looking for a primary school for their child can choose between Malay-, Tamil- or Chinese-language schools, the last two known as vernacular schools.

    Many parents prefer this system because they say the standards are higher and the discipline is better enforced than in mainstream institutions.

    Critics, however, argue that the drift towards vernacular schooling undermines the national Malay-language education system by keeping different ethnic groups apart and turning national schools into "Malay" institutions.

    The system is under scrutiny, dogged by questions on whether children are being taught tolerance or prejudice.

    Vernacular schools now stand accused of creating division in the country's multiracial society, and there are increasing calls for a single-school system.

    Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports from Kuala Lumpur.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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