21 November 2011

Blog | Tamil School

When Umapagan Ampikaipakan first spoke about an episode on Tamil education I listened with trepidation. Will this episode be a long 20 minute rant about all the things gone wrong, all that is inadequate and all the unsatisfactory outcomes from the 523 Tamil schools in this country.

The state of Tamil schools in Malaysia, really was there any hope? But I listened as he started to build a case… “But Nova, you see it provides more than just an education”. But what else can we expect from these schools? My views and perceptions of Tamil schools were always in the realm of pessimism. Not because I did not believe in vernacular education, rather I always found myself asking how can these underfunded, poorly supported, often forgotten schools provide an education to more than 100 000 Tamil school children in the country.

But as I started reading and meeting those involved in the running of these schools, I started discovering a salient point; Tamil schools as Uma puts it provides pastoral care. Care no other education system can afford in terms of time and attention.

Attention especially for those coming from difficult economic and social conditions. Pn Kanagi, the Senior Assistant from the SRJK (T) Seaport said to us “In Tamil schools teachers are like mothers”. A product of the public school system myself I never saw any of my teachers fill that role. It wasn’t possible, classes were bigger and even if you were a kid coming from a hard place it was difficult for teachers to step in and intervene.

But there was also another point that popped up as we spoke to teachers and read recent reports. Enrolment was on the rise and more professionals were sending their kids to Tamil schools. This truly surprised me. And so we agreed Uma should do a piece on Tamil schools.

I must say Uma himself has a deep rooted connection with Tamil schools, his family has been involved in developing and improving Tamil schools for three generations. Naturally, his conviction in the ecosystem of the Tamil school is profound. He does not discount the problems faced by these schools and yes, there are plenty and all well documented. But just for once, for a short 20 min moment on radio, he bites the bullet and takes a stand to capture the little known stories about these schools and why we need Tamil schools.

Listen to the podcast.