The next generation?

Today I want to talk about my feelings for the next generation in public schools in Malaysia.
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I have gone to so many public schools all around Malaysia and seen so many issues.
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But, here are some troubling situations I’ve encountered:
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1. Chinese students from vernacular school system who refuse to acknowledge Bahasa
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What is most concerning is the Chinese students in Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (previously from SJKC) who refuse to acknowledge or participate in any programmes that is delivered in Bahasa Malaysia or English.
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These are children of working class Malaysian Chinese. Majority of them refuse to write in Bahasa Kebangsaan and refuse to participate in our workshops which is delivered using Bahasa Kebangsaan and English.
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One time, my colleague who is Chinese told them,
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“Why wouldn’t you want to learn Bahasa? What if they tell us to go back to China if we refused to learn Bahasa?”
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and the boy (14 years old) answered, “We go back to China lah, who cares about Bahasa.”
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Just to note, we’re not encouraging racial segregation but the children really refuse to respond to us because we didn’t know Mandarin and this is a Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan.
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But my colleagues who went to SJKC told me that peralihan students really couldn’t be bothered by anything because in SJKC, they were really pressured to study and behave with such strict rules so when they go to secondary school, they’re like “Whatever, we don’t care and we’re reclaiming our freedom now”.
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2. Students who do not respect their teachers nor any outside grown-up facilitators
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We have been told by teachers how they had to chase students who talks back and challenged them because they don’t care about schools.
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We have seen students shouting back at teachers because they feel like they’re entitled to raise their voices to whoever they want including educators, teachers and adults.
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I once sat down beside a 14 year old Chinese boy whom I asked to just write his name on his form and he looked at me, saying, “Nope.” And when I told him, I will sit beside him until he writes his name, he grunted loudly and still refuse to write his name. A 14 year old boy in a school.
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3. Teachers begging their students to participate and respond
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It’s sad when we have so many teachers who asked for our free programmes and when we go to schools, the students threatened to even sue us if we force them to participate in a programme that the school have scheduled for them.
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And I have seen teachers trying to beg and lure students to just sit down and participate with the programmes while the students act like gangsters, provoking and refusing to participate.
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Even we, an outside programme, had to beg the students to just put in their names, or to say hi, or even to look at us when we’re teaching in front.
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4. Students who thinks that sexual harassment is okay
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In one of the schools we went to, a group of boys were doing rude sexual hand signs and whistling when a girl goes up front to answer a question. They refused to admit to their wrong doing and told the teacher to shut up when she questioned them. They were sent to the discipline teacher but they were adamant that there was nothing wrong with what they did. And when we asked some of the girls, they admitted that the boys always do that to them, tried to touch them, and they had to accept that ‘that’s how boys are’.
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We have seen male students whistling to our young female facilitators without any guilt.
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We have seen students filling in survey forms with the number 69 all over the answer boxes.
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These are some of the issues that was really troubling me.
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While we do address children’s right to participate and children’s right to be heard, we also wonder about entitlement,
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whether it is children’s right to disrespect anyone they want to?
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So where’s the gap? The parents? The community? The environment?
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Most of the parents are within the age range of 35 to 45 years old, which is basically my peers.
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It’s as if the parents allow their children to be Lords while everyone else bows to them (including their parents).
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While some schools scrutinise our team for wearing a slightly tight long pants and have facilitators with coloured hair, what about their students who are really not participating at in programmes approved by the Ministry?
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I am not saying that we need to be authoritative in our handling of the children, but why aren’t the children of the next generation have any respect for the people around them.
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What did we not do as parents, educators and members of society is making sure that we have a young generation that respects each other?
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And the saddest part is that, why does the majority of Chinese students refuse to participate in any programmes with Bahasa? We already have about 80% of the private school students who could not speak the Bahasa Kebangsaan, and now we’re facing the same problem in public schools.
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Now, when the Minister of Education made comments like non-Malays prefer private education/institutions than wanting to enter public institutions, all the urban non-Malays slams him left and right.
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But that’s the reality of the matter.
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And I still wish for better younger generation that are really the essence of being what a Malaysian should be.
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I still have many workshops to conduct in public schools all around Malaysia, that’s my duty in raising this nation.

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