THE segregation of students based on race and religion is not something new.
Parents in Sabah who spoke up against a principal for his policy of segregating the students, in fact, represent the voices of many in Peninsular Malaysia, including myself, who have grown up with such a policy introduced since the late 70s.
We have become a polarised nation because of such policies that were implemented at the school level. It is no wonder that many of us no longer have good friends from other races.
The Ministry of Education is to be blamed for allowing such policies in schools under the pretext of convenience. With the takeover of Putrajaya, things have not changed much, especially with Maszlee Malik being the minister of education.
In Parliament, Maszlee had earlier urged the religious teachers to take Sabah and Sarawak as their medan dakwah. The intentions of the minister are obvious, and concerned parents in East Malaysia have every reason to protest against the segregation of students before society becomes too polarised.
I challenge Maszlee to look into this matter and immediately issue a statement on solving this problem. Silence is not an option. Such deliberate acts of segregating the children has to be nipped in the bud.
Back in primary school, I remember we had a number of Malay friends who grew up with us. Although they were the minority in a school that was largely populated by Chinese students, we never for once thought that they were Malays, therefore, they were supposedly different from the rest of us.
We became the best of friends and we played together. I can cite a similar situation in my children’s Chinese primary school. One of my son’s best friends was Zakaria, and because they were friends, Zakaria’s mother and I also became good friends. We often met in school during Report Card Day.
Friendships are developed at a young age and school is the best place for such healthy relationships to develop, where the children learn to appreciate each other’s race, culture and religion.
When we came to Form Three, an ustaz became the principal of the secondary school that we were in. He put the Muslim students into a separate class. Since then, we were never able to interact with each other as much.
It is ironic that some people claim Chinese schools are a bane to national unity, whereas it is in national schools that children are segregated based on race and religion. Please put a stop to such a policy.