THE United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) continues to oppose a common Bahasa Melayu (BM) curriculum and syllabus for all national and vernacular primary schools, a proposal put forward in the Preliminary Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB).
The curriculum move is beneficial and necessary and the MEB proposal should be lauded. It is my hope that the Education Ministry will not rescind its plan.
Dong Zong should not persist in allowing pupils in vernacular Chinese schools to have access only to the "lower and weaker" BM curriculum and syllabus, which puts them in a disadvantage when they move to national secondary schools.
Bahasa Melayu is a progressive language and even those scoring grades A, B and C in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah Bahasa Melayu papers in vernacular schools will find it hard to cope at the secondary level when all subjects (except English and other language subjects) are taught in Bahasa Melayu.
Dong Zong rationalises that if Bahasa Melayu is to be a "full" paper or subject, then the teaching and learning hours in vernacular schools will have to be increased.
Most school days will have to be "full" and this, according to them, does not make a conducive learning environment.
I agree but if you lay claim to achieving trilingual (Chinese-Malay-English) proficiency, you need to put in more work than others.
One must recognise first that Bahasa Melayu proficiency is not to be compromised and that there should be only one Bahasa Melayu curriculum and syllabus for all primary schools.
So, if the same number of teaching periods per week is to be maintained, with Bahasa Melayu periods having to be increased, then perhaps the Chinese or other subject periods would have to be reduced accordingly.
It will be said that there is no way that Chinese schools can cover all the requirements of the national school Bahasa Melayu curriculum and syllabus.
What is the alternative then? It will be good to learn from history. When we had the English school system, all pupils from vernacular schools had to go through a "remove class" year to catch up on English proficiency.
Perhaps now, it can be made compulsory for all vernacular schools pupils to go through a "remove class" year to complete the full primary Bahasa Melayu curriculum and syllabus, before they proceed to Form One.
It is important that primary vernacular schooling truly prepare pupils for national secondary schooling. It is unwise to monitor only what happens in primary vernacular schools, leaving pupils to become "sacrificial lambs" in national secondary schools.