Saturday, August 20, 2016

The tenacity of the Malaysian Chinese schools

The perpetual struggles, persecutions, intimidations and challenges faced by the Chinese schools in Malaysia. Through it all, the stakeholders persevere to overcome all these obstacles to provide a quality education for our children sake. These human capital can compete globally with their multi-lingual literacy and skills.
How the Board of Trustees Make Vernacular Schools a Success...
The Denial:
The education or language nationalists don't want to touch on the real reason why vernacular schools seem to have higher quality: Accountability through the independent board of trustee system.
The Rejection:
Vernacular schools are essentially semi-private schools. They have had the gut to stand up against the Ministry of Education, and refused to let MOE have full control over the school land and building - especially the front lines of canteens and bookstores.
The Source of Anger:
That is very upsetting to the UMNO-controlled MOE, because then UMNO's local division chiefs' cronies can't get into the expensive business of selling questionable quality milk and stuff for perpetual profit in a neighbouring school near you. They also can't go secure huge contracts from MOE that costs 3-4 times needed to build and expand on these lands and buildings.
The Retaliation:
The UMNO-controlled MOE retaliates by refusing to pay for the capex - everything to do with more classroom, furniture, buildings, staffroom, toilet, fencing, sports facilities, utility, infrasturcture, etc. Naturally.
MOE still pays for the personnel - or else it would have even less leverage over the headmasters, admin and teachers. It wouldn't have been able to summon these staff to time-wasting, brainwashing, school-intefering, multi-day, seminars that cost another set of bombs to stage.
The Hardship:
So for their "recalcitrance," MOE makes sure the vernacular schools are the poor cousins in national education system - often having to beg for left over old desks, and chairs, etc, from nearby national schools where individual administrators are often very gracious to give.
Having refused them the capex, MOE also skims on the non-personnel operating expenses, such as for electricity, copiers, etc. Where some is provided, it is often indirectly via the completely unreliable crony contractors, such as for "security" guards service that are really insecure.
Then why do vernacular schools hold out?
Fortunately, by refusing to give up school land and building to MOE (unlike the well-intended but more naive missionary schools that did not insist on this), the vernacular schools got to keep their board of directors or trustees.
This is a crucial governance tool:
When there's a need for more capital expenditure, where school building expansion is constantly needed (wonder why) - the schools have had to turn to the board of directors to raise the funds. (The nationalists' most-hated NGO Dongzhong is their umbrella organization). It's always hard to raise money.
The accountability:
These board of trustees have to go yearly to the local communities to raise funds, to beg - one way or another - to promise quality, accountability, performance, more responsive teachers, better discipline, moral standards, safety, better traffic flow despite the hugely distorted student body ... in short everything good in education ....
They have to deliver on these promises to the local sponsoring businesses, hawkers, parents, beer companies, religious bodies, ... basically all stakeholders. For example, part of the money raised during the ghost season which noise annoys you so much always go to a local vernacular school. Often also part of the money you contribute to a funeral wake. (Is there a better model for local accountability and transparency in education?).
The personality:
These members of board of directors can be brash and confident - they have to - to take responsibility, do marketing, protect the head master/mistress from more MOE meddling, etc. Their independent characters grate on the MOE but they get things done. They guard the school like it is their own garden, to grow, to bloom. It is often their remaining purpose in life. They are accomplished business people who know how to grow things - business and people.
The motivation:
They do this for what? Because that is often the highest purpose in life for them - often doing it out of respect for their own deceased parents - who probably nagged them more than a few times: Son, if you can, when you can, make sure to improve our schools for the children.
The result:
Here you have it - The board of directors or trustees system - the decentralized power structure that the nationalists don't want to highlight in case you also ask for it. That is why Mahathir and others hate them so much. (By programming the media to hate DJZ automatically, they stop you from seeing how the educational system can be cleaned up and improved.) Yet they accomplish so much.

No comments:

Post a Comment