KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has given parents one month to transfer their children from community religious schools to schools run by the ministry.
Education Director-General Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat said no coercion was involved and that students from these schools were “invited” to take up the offer as the ministry wanted them to benefit from the quality education available in government schools.
“There is no force, parents are free to reject the offer. There is obviously a reason why some parents have chosen not to send their children to government schools, but I don’t want to go into that. Our motives are pure.”
He said the ministry was aware that there were several weaknesses in sekolah agama rakyat, which number 260 educating 66,000 secondary school students and 8,000 primary school pupils.
“They lack proper infrastructure, teaching and learning facilities and trained teachers. From our analysis, the achievement of students from SAR in the academic and religious fields is low compared to government schools,” he said at the ministry.
During the one-month period which ends on Feb 6, parents will be given all assistance in transferring their children.
Rafie advised them to contact the government school nearest to their home. All state and district education offices have been asked to expedite the registration process.
He quoted statistics from last year’s PMR examination to back up the ministry’s claim that SAR students performed poorly. For example, only 3.5% of SAR pupils scored an A in Mathematics compared to 21% in national schools.
In Science, 2.2% of SAR students scored an A while the percentage in government schools was 15.4%. For English the percentage was 3% (SAR) as opposed to 18.7% for national schools.
The failure rate in the PMR was also much higher for students from SAR.
In English, 44.3% SAR students scored an E or failed while the failure rate at government schools was only 30.1%
“Even in Arabic, the SAR students did poorly. They had a failure rate of 53.8% compared to only 11.8% for government schools,” Rafie said.
“I hope all parents receive this invitation with an open heart. There is no hidden agenda behind the offer,'' he said.