by Lokman Mustafa
: Zeffrey Muhammad (not his real name) completely disagrees with calls to abolish the vernacular school system, which was made by certain parties during the 916 red-shirt rally recently.
An alumnus of SJKC Pu Nan, Zeffrey spent six years at the Chinese primary school in Bakri, Muar where he enrolled as a Standard One pupil.
"The existence of Chinese schools in Malaysia should be staunchly safeguarded, as they have been proven to produce academic excellence," he argued.
Stressing that discipline is the utmost important lesson taught to students, Zeffrey cited one example when he was at SJKC Pu Nan, the instruction that students were not allowed to run in the school compound.
"They could only do so in the school field," he explained.
As a Malay, Zeffrey revealed that he had also enjoyed extra attention from his teachers. But the fact is, the concern shown by teachers for students at the school cut across the board.
Once, when another student did not have enough money to purchase a dictionary, the teachers at the school called his parents to discuss the matter.
The school then agreed to buy the dictionary for the student.
Chinese schools in Malaysia use Chinese as the medium of instruction whereby students learn history, moral, science, mathematics and other subjects using the language.
The syllabus is the same with national primary schools, except for the medium of instruction.
"Some of the skills taught in Chinese schools however are based on civilisation in China. For example, I learned to use the abacus in mathematics," said Zeffrey.
Even if national schools were to introduce Chinese and Tamil as compulsory subjects, Zeffrey believes that certain elements found in vernacular schools can never be emulated.
"The culture of hard work and discipline may not be the same. In addition, the teaching techniques may be different," he argued.
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