KUALA LUMPUR: While a single education system would be ideal, the problem of quality in national schools should be addressed first, said Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
"Unity is important and education is an important platform is fostering it among young people, but we should get out priorities right. The quality of schools has to be improved," said the Umno supreme council member on Sunday.
He was responding to a question about whether abolishing vernacular schools would be good for unity at the Seventh Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit Sunday morning.
The former Deputy Higher Education Minister believed that many parents sent their children to Chinese vernacular schools because of their prowess in Mathematics and Science.
"There is a push and pull factor why non-Malay parents don't send their children to national schools. It's mainly about quality," he said adding that even Malay parents are sending their children to Chinese schools.
An estimated 80,000 non-chinese students are studying in Chinese schools in the country.
He also believed that many national schools are becoming like sekolah agama (religious schools).
"Even I, as a Malay Muslim, got that feeling. My standard three daughter was singled out because she was not wearing a baju kurung. There are all kinds of stories that make people believe this," he said.
He even said that many parents were sending their children to private religious schools, which he believed were more open and progressive than national schools.
"The results in these schools are good and they are more active in co-curricular activities," he said.
Ideas CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan said that people should be given a choice of schools they would like to attend."I strongly believe in the need for choice. In having that choice, we have to make sure that we do not become divided," he said.
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