This is an assignment at school I did. The grades for this paper is okay.
IF ANYBODY DISAGREES, I WILL NOT PURSUE TO CONVINCE THE READER TO AGREE. IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO CONVINCE. IT IS JUST A STATEMENT OF OPINION. I DO NOT CARE OF THE OUTCOME.
Cultures and languages often divide humans into groups which are different from one another. Members of each group will likely see the world in different ways . When a person joins another group, that person shall experience the difference that can range from very small to very large. No matter how hard a person tries to change to suit the new group, that person shall be trapped in the way he or she used to think. This fact is portrayed clearly by Renato Rosaldo, where during his stay with a tribe called the Ilongots, he realized he can never have the their way of thinking (Rosaldo 592) . At a larger scale, difference of cultures and languages may spell the fate of an entire country. Consider a multi racial country where each race has its own school with different languages of instruction between them. Although living together in a country, they are all separated in terms of ways of thinking thus making it difficult to educate matters such as patriotism, which is of prime importance. Racial integration, into a race called Malaysian (Malaysian is currently used to refer to nationality of people from Malaysia), has been a Government program for quite a long time. Therefore, in countries where there are more than one main race and each of the race speak different languages, it is bad and harmful to have schools with different languages of instruction because it will cause problems of racial integration, nationalism and patriotism.
In educating future generations, especially in teaching processes at schools, the content of teaching in general is very important. Being particular, the most important subject is perhaps history, for it is the main way of having the young generation aware of values such as patriotism by learning lessons from the past and appreciate hardship of the people before. It is even more vital in countries where there is more than one race such as Malaysia, for it is one of the few ways to develop racial integration, for historical studies may introduce common points for each race. As Pratt suggested (Pratt 501), schools are one form of contact zone and schools in Malaysia portray this idea clearly because of the presence of many different cultures, languages and ideas but the teacher is the focus and the main presenter of ideas, creating an asymmetrical interactions. It is where cultures clash and cause difficulties in educating all of them, for common ideas among all are not many. These intricacies also was caused by the difference in language used when students where younger, when they usually speak their own language. As a result, students would prefer to go to schools that use their language and consequently each race is separated from one another. Thus the national agenda of prime importance, that is racial integration, will not work as hoped by the Government. In fact, people from different races are getting further apart. This is a similar to a fact described by Richard Rodriguez, where he felt distanced when he realized the difference between him and his parents after he got himself educated (Rodriguez 549). He compared his experience with the scholarship boy, a hypothetical character described in Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy, where the separation between the boy and his family was impossible to avoid. These two instances are inevitable even between two sons and their family. Let alone people unrelated. That is not to mention people of different race. Without commonality, people divide and they get further apart from each other as the differences grow. Considering specifically at Malaysia, critical subjects such as history have been ordered to be taught in the national language which is Malay language. Because of the difference in languages, non-Malay speaking would not receive the education in patriotism and nationalism as desired by the Government. Thus the likely consequence is races divided which further could cause problems of large significance in the long term.
For purposes of our analysis, we shall need a review on history of Malaysia. Malaysia was part of the British Colony. The country was rich in natural resources. During the British Industrial revolution, those resources were heavily mined. Soon after, the British found themselves in shortage of labors. They brought in labors from China and India. A century later, as the leaders of Malaysia were negotiating for independence, they agreed upon a term by the British. It was Malaysia had to accept Indian and Chinese labors as citizens. But the Malays still hold the special rights. At that time, as Malaysia was within the British Empire, the education is in English. After Independence, the leaders structured Malaysia’s own education system, using Malay as the main language. The Chinese and Indian however, disagreed and they established their own schools. This caused tension between the races. The Government tolerated them, for the sake of internal peace and security, and agreed that they have their own schools. But as a condition they must teach core subjects such as Malay language and history in their curricular. However, growing up speaking their own language, up until now non-Malays in general didn’t speak Malay language that well. It is a second language that they usually regard as not important. As a result, they don’t have the understanding that they should have as a citizen on nationalism and patriotism, thus making racial integration harder.
This situation is critical and risks of tensions between races always exist, as happened before. Even today, the issue of races is very sensitive. The rights of the Malays, even the King, are questioned by the non-Malays. The non-Malays pledge for equality. They have many reasons to do so. To some extent the non-Malays are discriminated. It is stated in the constitution that the Malays hold special rights over the non-Malays. However, Malays are not the best of races. In fact, it is quite the contrary. To portray this, the former, and perhaps the best Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir wrote a book entitled Malays Dilemma, with hopes that Malays will change for the better. Sadly, it was not to be. It is to common knowledge in Malaysia that the Malays would probably be destroyed or at best, not what they are today, without the rights to protect them. In all areas, especially education, it is apparent that the rights of the Malays are the only hope for them to be superior. Public universities practice the quota system. Malays consist of ninety percent of total student population. But most of the student in the top ten percent is non-Malays. The Government ignores this as to avoid tensions, acting as if nothing happens. The economy is conquered by the Chinese, even though they rarely receive help from the Government. Malays on the other hand can seek and receive assistance from the Government easily. It is apparent that this event contributes to the reluctance of the non-Malays to study Malay Language and that avoids them from understanding the mentioned important values. In considering giving more chance to non-Malays than they are getting now, or perhaps equality between non-Malays and the Malays, the Government sees that non-Malays in general cannot speak Malay Language fluently as they should as a citizen. But the non-Malays, as described above, are discriminated and for that reason they are reluctant to learn the language. As mentioned, this situation will cause severe problems in the future. It is a kind of the “chicken and egg” problem. We can say that either discrimination or difference in languages started this but there is no definite answer. It is probably caused by the language of instruction in different schools, but to say for certain one shall require extensive study of Malaysia's history. Thus returning to our argument that differences in languages of instruction at schools in a multi racial country are bad and even to some degree harmful.
In conclusion, a common language of education is very important for a multi racial country. Language unites races, even if that is the only common trait. Language also creates a solid amalgam out of different races, as strong values are shared among them. It may be the factor of survivability of the country in a long period of time.