MRSM schools obstacle to national unity?

by Azly Rahman

As hypermodernising societies such as Malaysia progresses in syncrony with the advancement of capitalism, and as race and religion becomes the foundation for decision-making in education, especially in elitist well-funded schools, Malaysia is faced with another dilemma of education and national development.

Is this country creating sophisticated ethnocentrists that will continue to sustain race-based ideologies?

Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (Mara Junior Science College) schools, well-funded, well-staffed with advanced degree faculties, and well-taken care of by the Malay-centric government may be one example of a phenomena of a successful failure in the system’s 40-year evolution.

The school system prides itself in innovative curricular experimentation drawn from best practice of schools, particularly those of the United States; as its original template was based upon.

What educationists will see in the list of innovations are merely aspects of the formal curriculum; upon further analysis lies the hidden and informal curriculum as perceived from curricular theory; hidden is the deeply racial socialisation aspect.

The overall picture lies in the impact of politics and education in the socialisaton of MRSM students. they parrot the teachers, the teachers parrot the politicians, politicians kowtow to money and power – that’s an example of successful failure.

We are all economic beings, homo economicus undoubtedly but it is education and only education that is the best means to re-engineer, restructure, re-level, and redesign society.

It is the only means to sustain individual and social progress, as philosophers Dewey and Freire would argue.

Valueless ideologies

While the advanced nations are prioritising multiculturalism, honoring cosmopolitanism, and globalising education, Malaysians, through their endless fights over education are making many steps backwards. MRSM has produced a breed of sophisticated professionals to sustain ethnocentric valueless ideologies out of touch with current cultural realities.

Consider, in a similar vein, how much is spent and attention paid to on yet another high-priced elitist project such as the Pintar Permata at the expense of other schools in dire needs of even basic amenities such as those in Sabah and Sarawak or in many poor states – is that equity and equality for all races? Or is it a showcase based on ignorance of the meaning of equality and education?

With all due respect to the administrators, teachers, parents, and students, I must say about the MRSM school system.

With its insistence on being a Malay-centric, MRSM these days are not preparing children to survive in a multicultural, cosmopolitan, and ever-changing world that requires English as an important skill, and an outlook that is more open to learning about other cultures especially in the context of a rapidly changing Malaysia.

Those specialisations in each MRSM school are merely cliches filled with educational terminologies that are not fully understood but fully acceptable as a platform to appease the needs of the current regime.

Regimentation is necessary it seems to tune the mind of the monolithic mono-cultural students to accept governmental dictates making them in turn, one-dimensional beings.

Are any of those MRSMs suitable for Malaysian children? Or are they merely training and indoctrinating grounds to prop up yet another breed of leaders that will sustain the culture of blind following neo-feudalism of Ketuanan Melayu that itself is a dying specie?

Do parents know what goes on in the culture of the MRSM boarding schools and what goes on in the minds of your children?

In this context, we must look at the difference between education, schooling, indoctrination, mind-control, and liberation in thinking. I would say that the MRSM system is a successful failure.

Retrogressive ideologies

In MRSM, that predominantly Malay-elite secondary institution for the best and brightest young Malays, Malay-centric indoctrination work have been happening since the 1980s. Courses such as Kursus Kesedaran (Self Awareness Courses) are conducted to instill the questionable idea of Ketuanan Melayu, making the children afraid of “Malaysian bogeymen and bogeywomen” and their own shadows.

Open-mindedness is rarely encouraged and students take control over each others’ lives transplanting retrogressive ideologies into each other’s head, with the help of ultra-nationalist and anti-multiculturalist teachers.

Even if these children survive the ideological ordeal and experience ‘tough love’ and go on to get their degrees from top American and British universities, they will still be Malays with a shallow understanding of multiculturalism or become more sophisticated Malays with more complex arguments on Ketuanan Melayu.

They will then design policies to affect the needed sustenance of ideology in order to protect the interests of the few. Neo-feudalistic cybernetic Malays are then the new creations of the political-economic ruling class. They run the country and many are now running it down.

As an educator wishing to see Malays progress alongside in peace and prosperity with other races, I call upon us all to put a stop to all forms of indoctrination held especially by the BTN (Biro Tata Negara); an organisation that is of no value to the advancement of the Malays they claim to want to liberate.

It should be taken over by progressive Malaysians and replaced with a systematic effort to promote not only racial understanding through teaching respect and deep reflection on the cultures of the peoples of Malaysia, but also teach conflict resolution and mediation through cross-cultural perspectives. All must question the presence of BTN on campuses. All must reject BTN’s programme for indoctrination.

Let us no longer allow any government body of that sort to set foot on our campuses or our schools. As Malaysians we have to demand an end to the further dissemination of racist ideologies.

Open up, not only institutions such as UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara) and MRSM but also Umno to more students of the major cultures. We will then have a great celebration of diversity and respect for human dignity in the decades to come.

We need to turn succesful failures such as MRSM into truly successful Malaysian educational ventures; an organic system able to prepare young Malaysian citizens for a diverse, multicultural, and rapidly challenging world – minus the cliches of educational innovation and blind nationalism that will be anti-national in character.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 1:48 pm

    Nothing new man, just replicating Hitler’s superiority n unadulterated race best practice
    All d best facilities 4 d upbringing n promotion of d superior race, heil UmnoB

  2. #2 by monsterball on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 1:55 pm

    While all neighboring countries are opening up minds of young citizens to be at par with others…our Govt is closing up minds to be good for nothing future Malaysians.
    The Govt. needs badly to keep young Malaysian minds not to think too much but follow Govt’s instructions and advises.
    Malays are the ones that suffer Chinese young ones seem to take it to pass an exam…but not easily influenced.
    One pep talk by me to my young daughter…not be be easily fooled by propaganda stuffs…she passed with 6As in Form 5…and she is now in private school preparing for U for a degree and look set to know what is right or wrong and do not simply believe or trust.
    We have no choice but to teach our children.never to trust Najib and the UMNO B Govt…and they listen to their best friend’s advise…her parents.

  3. #3 by dagen on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 2:34 pm

    Monsterball, dont worry. My young kids (early secondary and primary school going) do not trust jib without me telling them anything about umno politics.

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 3:04 pm

    NR stressed dat cyberspace must b managed 2 protect UmnoB/BN, oops sorry, Asian society fr exposure 2 d “negative influences” of PR, oops sorry, Western culture

    NR wants 2 censor d Internet n d Information Ministry wishes 2 block out “undesirable websites”

  5. #5 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 3:25 pm

    on the contrary, we are trying to censor umno and its bn cohorts daily lies and racist activities from reaching our kids.

    any ideas anyone?

  6. #6 by tak tahan on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 3:57 pm

    Praising mca high in the sky not knowing they will thrown down from the plane above.

  7. #7 by tak tahan on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 6:35 pm

    After 53 years we are still stuck with so much racist and bias policies and don’t seem to break away yet.Shame on Moo..hidin and the relevant ministers and leaders’s inability to solve and save bolehland from further suffering on this long overdue problems.’Rakyat dibelakangkan,croni croni umno didahulukan’ should be instead..

  8. #8 by tak tahan on Thursday, 13 January 2011 - 9:34 pm

    Why my comment #5 was rephrased or cut short?I was telling another perampok cinta 1 criticised Anwar in soi lek post.

  9. #9 by HJ Angus on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 9:17 am

    Such schools that segregate young Malays are definitely a MAJOR obstacle – not only to national unity but also to empower Malays to become less dependent on the government.
    Maybe that is the main purpose – to create a compliant group of Malaysians who depend on the Bankrupsi Negara regime and are a reliable vote bank.
    I reckon the only way to solve this problem is to vote to change the government – too many years of screwing up the future generations.

  10. #10 by k1980 on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:03 am

    After subsidis cut, now free meals cut. umno bankrupt?


    PAS Youth has hit out at the government’s decision to terminate the free food programme for poor students.

    Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi said the decision clearly contradicted the government’s ‘People first, Performance now’ slogan.

    The Additional Food Programme by the Education Ministry was first proposed thirty years ago, and designed to provide free food to children from poor families to complement their diet.

    A circular by the ministry on December 29 however instructed the programme’s termination by January 12.

    “This will effect thousands of poor schoolchildren who are under the RMT programme,” warned Nasrudin, saying the move denied the poor from getting aids and would have impact on their performance in school.

    “If the government can give various incentives to other sectors and other appropriate allocations which are fair, why does it have to sacrifice the poor students?

    Is the government in shortage of funds?” he asked, and urged for an explanation over the decision.

  11. #11 by sotong on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:14 am

    Our country is more divided since independent….we have lost the education battle to unite the people.

  12. #12 by raven77 on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:22 am

    Stop this homosexual breeding boarding schools and invest more on the current national schools to include better teaching facilities, full day session scools, better sports facilities with individul student lockers, reduce student numbers per school to manageable numbers and most important of all….UPGRADE THE QUALITY OF TEACHERS!….

    Maybe then we may crawl out of the eduation mess which will create a Sudan situation in no time to come….

  13. #13 by raven77 on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:37 am

    BTW…let’s talk about something the PR actually owns….


    Why cant the PR ensure that the student intake reflects the 60:40 racial distribtion in this country…

    Meritocracy may be the way to go…but that may end up 90% of places being occupied by non Malays…..

  14. #14 by frustrated doctor on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 1:30 pm

    Star didn’t have the guts to publish this letter of mine last week so I’m sharing it here. This explains the situation in our pathetic education system which causes discord from day 1.

    Thank you Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye for your letter in the Star dated 5th Jan 2011 titled ‘Start racial integration from Year One’. It was indeed a gentle reminder to all of us about the importance of working as one from young.

    However, this is not what I noticed after enrolling my non-Muslim daughter in a government run primary school which I had studied in 30 years ago. On the first day, they had to stand for a doa which was in Arabic. Why couldn’t they use Bahasa Malaysia? Are we staying in the Middle East? All the Muslim students were asked to put their palms opened out. My 6 year old not knowing what to do, did the same. When she returned, I told her she doesn’t need to do that and she said she will just clasp her hands together as she does when we pray at home. We adults never had these when we were schooling. In fact, there should be a separation between religion and state especially in government run schools where children of all races attend. If everyone can’t be accommodated, then the activity should be cancelled. Without this Arabic prayer, the gist of your letter would have been achieved – that children have to be colour blind. Now because of this, she is aware the she is different than others religiously and asked us why they have the prayer in only one religion and why not in hers also. She also looked worried when she realised that she had prayed in a different way but I reassured her that she had not done anything wrong.

    Yesterday, she came back and told us that the teacher told her that she is not to talk to the boys in her class. So other than racial segregation, we now also have gender segregation in co-ed schools which never existed when we were children. The girls sit on one side and the boys on the other side. Even in the canteen, they have different lines for girls and boys. What are we trying to teach the children? We never had all these and grew up fine. What is so wrong for 6 and 7 year old children talking and playing with each other?

    Seeing that this is a premier primary school in my state capital, I shudder to think of rural schools. This has clearly shown me that racial integration is a unachievable dream in the way Malaysia is going now. Unfortunately being a regular wage earner, I do not have the means to take my children to international schools or educate them overseas. These are the reasons why most non-Muslims prefer sending their children to vernacular schools which I feel is something I too should have done. The political rhetoric of the education department in building a Malaysian race or 1Malaysia is not being carried out on the ground from my experience these past few days.

    Disillusioned parent

  15. #15 by k1980 on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 2:36 pm

    #14 frustrated doc,

    Your 6 year old will soon be sharpening the kitchen knife to cut her puppy’s throat because the teachers there would be telling her that canines and khinzirs are “haram”…..

  16. #16 by PoliticoKat on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 10:47 pm

    frustrated doctor :
    Seeing that this is a premier primary school in my state capital, I shudder to think of rural schools.
    Disillusioned parent

    As someone who has been to a more rural school you will have
    -doa at the start of every class

    -gender segregation in the class and canteen

    -pressure on girls, Muslim or not, malay or not, to wear the baju kurung. The pinafore that we think is the school uniform… is going out of fashion.

    -malay girls no longer have the option of wearing the pinofore uniform, severe pressure by ustaz to wear the headscarf which has to be worn by the baju kurung. If you do not want to wear the headscarf, it is better to leave. No school regulation says you must wear one, but the pressure will not stop.

    -Camps organized by school, is a series of ceramah about the joys of islam. And the darkness of the unenlightened. It gives an understanding of islam to non-muslims. Conversion occurs… especially amount the isolated.

    -school club membership become malay, or non-malay.

    -development of ultras…aside from the usual budak jahat, we have the ultra-malay group and ultra-chinese group. Stay away from them, unless you want a fight.

    -school canteen closes during bulan puasa. So bring your own food/water or puasa along with everyone else.

    -no PE class during puasa. Nons have to amuse themselves

    -Moral class is the most difficult subject imaginable. Few teachers can teach it, and unlike Maths or Science you can’t study it or even make reasonable arguments in the exams. It is all about matching the right nilai murni and using the right kata kunci. This is route learning taken to the ultimate form. You have a hundred or so nilai and kata kunci and their inter-relationship to memorise. Enjoy!

    -will always have fewer subjects (at least one, can be 2) than a malay student. So unless you are literally heads and shoulders better and a straight ‘A’ student, you will never become number 1 student in class or form. So wining book prizes is very hard.

    -Bahasa malayu/bahasa Malaysia (whatever it is called now since it keeps being switched) is a very important subject. If you don’t get an “A” in this subject you do not qualify for the best student prize in less say Math, Chemistry, etc.

    -Get used to being called a “Pendatang”. It is normal. Roll with it. Only old people get offended.

    -If you can’t be happy about somebody else good fortune, do not talk to your Malay friends about what they plan to do after school. You will just get angry.

  17. #17 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 11:15 pm

    I don’t think they will ever learn the simple notion that in-breeding is no good for any creature. USA thrived because they accepted brains from everywhere, likewise the little DOT down South does the same thing. The result is so obvious though not to our “leaders” who can only slogan ” ketuanan”. slogan is free but not the process of training people to think and to be competitive. Mere sloganeering is a sure way to Zimbabwe, we all know the danger as after too much sloganeering of half-truth, they too begin to believe that their make-belief is real! In reality, to unwind such mind is not going to be easy after over a generation of propaganda. It gonna last another generation or two even if they begin now. And would they start now???

  18. #18 by tak tahan on Friday, 14 January 2011 - 11:42 pm

    Did average non-malays previously aware clearly about all this ketuanan and bias policy and did nothing or could’t do much about it?Especially political party?Or Because nobody wanted to talk much about it of what this sick government was propagating cause os ISA,F.kau .A or whatnot USA?

  19. #19 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 7:29 am

    I used to question the existence of the Chinese schools based on national aspiration. eventually I realized that many parents, even those who themselves are Chinese only in appearance, began to enroll their children in such schools. They did it not because they were chauvinists, they did it because of the poor quality of education in the national schools; of coupled with teachers who thought they were misionaries. All said and done, most Chinese like to think that “Belief” is rather personal, one can’t just talk them into it. so to those who hold the conclusion that clinging to the Chinese-type of schools is anti-national is dead wrong! If these schools are considered on par with the normal national schools, then parents would not take the trouble to enroll their children in such schools located miles away from their homes.
    To those teachers who prefer to ‘Preach’, don’t teach just go and preach!

  20. #20 by sotong on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 9:23 am

    The enormous failure of national-type schools to be inclusive and attractive to Non Malays had made Other-type schools seems attractive……it benefited the narrow and short sighted objectives of minority ” leaders ” at the great expense of national interests.

    This failure to unite the people, through inclusive and multi cultural and religious education environment for decades, had a permanent, long term and far reaching consequences….nobody wins in this environment.

  21. #21 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 15 January 2011 - 11:45 am

    Actually MRSM provide an interesting study about the the limit of govt to make real changes. It has no doubt produce a good number of good graduates that has attended top schools. However, despite that the number of them that has actually been successful in being entreprenuers or inspirational economic leadership is actually very few compared to the non-Malay community that has been discriminated against and left to their own device.

    The phenomenon is not unique – In neigbouring Singapore, the scholarship and elitist corporate system have not produced great entreprenuers and great companies even though their companies and institutions that they run are efficient and relevant.

    There are things the govt can do well but it cannot predict and produce inspiration, epiphanies and in fact one can argue, should not. Humility and one’s place in life should always be limited in civilised humanity.

    It why the MRSM system while useful and its weakness unfortunate, gives false hope of what a govt can achieve, actually should respect about market forces and basic right of human freedom.

  22. #22 by sudala on Sunday, 16 January 2011 - 12:39 pm

    If the BN gomen is serious about 1Malaysia, they would have revamped MRSM, the haven for ‘in breeding’ of the worst kind in turning out narrow minded individuals who do not have a mind of their own, cannot think properly, cannot speak coherently, is a complete failure in the English language, do not have a world view of other races, and possibly intolerant of others, not of their type.

    So they prefer staus quo, business as usual with the systematic brainwashing of young minds in MRSM and other malay institutions. The non malays have no choice but to perform their best outside of these well funded institutions. In the process they excel and become more creative and resilient and frustrated and feel the push factor even more before and after graduation from universities. The pull factor to leave is always there as they would not have to deal with all the nonsense going on in public schools in malaysia when time comes for their children to attend school, and the non existence of meritocracy in workplaces, housing, and every aspect of life in Malaysia.

    How can you blame them with the BN government trying to screw them at every turn? The education system in Malaysia is a regressive instead of a progressive one. The quality of education has gone down the drain long ago and will continue to be as long as BN stays in power and conduct business as usual, with no respect and regards to even the existence of other races that make up the population of Malaysia.

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