It appears Malaysians are still undecided on which is better: having a single steam schools-only education system, or maintaining a system with both single stream and vernacular schools.
In a special Merdeka survey of more than 1,000 Malaysians 25 years old and above conducted by research company Vase.ai, 51 per cent of respondents said they supported the idea that only single stream schools should exist, while 49 per cent said it was important for vernacular schools to also exist.
The survey also found that among those who supported a single stream school system which provides mother tongue education and spiritual education, most (66 per cent) believed it was a key to unity of all races.
The other two most-commonly cited beliefs were that a single stream-only system “is a better platform for children to mix with each other at an early age” (51%), and that “students will have better exposure of other cultures” (47%).
However, many of those who believed that vernacular schools were also needed said they were afraid there would be racial discrimination in single stream schools (39 per cent). Close to 20 per cent also said they believed there was a lack of discipline in single stream schools, while 17 per cent said “using Malay is superior to other languages” in single stream schools.
According to Vase.ai, close to 70 per cent of all respondents for the survey identified as Bumiputera, while 23 per cent were Chinese and the remaining 8 per cent were Indian.
Friends from other races
When asked about their own school experiences, 43 per cent of respondents said most of their primary school classmates were the same ethnicity as them. Only 15 per cent said there was an equal ratio of ethnicities in their classrooms.
These experiences changed slightly in secondary school, with 38 per cent of respondents recalling that most of their secondary school classmates were the same ethnicity as them, and 18 per cent remembering that there was an equal balance of ethnicities in their classrooms.
Among those who received tertiary education, 37 per cent said most of their coursemates were the same ethnicity as them.
Even in the workplace, most respondents (46 per cent) had colleagues with the same ethnicity as them. Nonetheless, around a third (31 per cent) said there was a good balance of different ethnicities at their workplace.
Only 31 per cent said most of their best or closest friends in school were of different ethnicities, Vase.ai said. Similarly, only 35 per cent said that their closest friends today are of different ethnicities.
Only 35% say most of their closest friends today are of different ethnicities.
Last year, a resolution to implement a single stream system was passed at a congress to discuss the future of the Bumiputera community, Malay Mail reported.
The local news website also reported that Chinese groups have resisted the idea, citing fears that Chinese vernacular schools will be assimilated into single-stream schools.