Resolutions of Education Equality Act National Roundtable Meeting
14th April, 2012, Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the deprivation of citizenship of Mr Lim Lian Geok in 2011, a Working Committee launched a yearlong Justice for Lim Lian Geok Campaign on the 8th May, 2011, urging the government to: (1) reinstate the citizenship of Mr Lim Lian Geok; (2) enact Education Equality Act to ensure fair treatment of mother tongue education.
After 10 months of nationwide signature campaign, the Working Committee handed 63,848 postcards to the Prime Minister’s Department on the 5th March, 2012, urging Prime Minister Najib to implement the above-mentioned appeal.
Education Equality Act is a policy-oriented educational reform program. The 83 Chinese associations united behind the Justice for Lim Lian Geok Campaign believe that legislation is the only means to overcome the existing policy biases and systematic discriminatory measures. A new enactment ensuring equal treatment of schools of all streams by the government and fair distribution of educational resources to primary national and national-type schools is needed.
Besides, Justice for Lim Lian Geok Campaign Working Committee regards campaign for mother tongue education as an advocacy for equal rights to language and culture, but also as a concrete expression of the pursuit for equality of education. Therefore it is necessary to be united with other discriminated educational groups, to further broaden social concerns, and to expand grassroots support, in order to join forces more effectively and fight for the rights of all marginalised communities. Consequently, the scope of the Education Equality Act encompasses a wide range of issues and dimensions faced by various groups, such as the indigenous peoples, socio-economic status, rural-urban disparity, gender and special needs groups.
We, participants of the Education Equality Act National Roundtable Meeting organised by the Justice for Lim Lian Geok Campaign Working Committee, unanimously approved the following resolutions:
Reiterating that to enjoy fair distribution of educational resources and equal educational opportunity are the basic human rights of all citizens;
Alarmed by the systematic biases in our national education system since Independence with regard to language, ethnicity, religion, gender, minorities and socio-economically marginalised groups in the country, leading to discrimination which deprived them of the basic human rights to enjoy equal educational opportunities, suppression of their ability to participate in and enjoy benefits and wealth afforded by a democratic society, and the weakening of their identity as citizens;
Affirming the spirit of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education passed in 1960;
Emphasising that the lack of respect and tolerance of our public education and policies toward minorities and marginalised communities being the main cause of social disunity and national disharmony, the rights of minorities and marginalised communities to choice of education through their own educational activities and maintenance of schools should be respected and accepted;
We are opposed to all exclusionary educational behaviour, whether it is the suppression of the distinctive characters of minority or marginalised groups by the majority, or the suppression of the internal heterogeneity of the majority; the principle of freedom of association provides that any community has the right to carry out educational activities while respecting individual rights to the choice of education;
- For the time being, Malay, Chinese and Tamil streams ought to be provided at least at the level of pre-school, primary and secondary education, as well as for technical and vocational education and adult education. This is in respect for the choice of parents (at the primary level) and students (at the secondary level and above), as well as an expression of the distinctive character of our country as a multiethnic society;
- When circumstances allow, the multi-stream national education system should be extended to the highest possible level and other appropriate educational fields.
- The state has the duty to provide for POL classes for ethnic minorities.
- Educational institutions of different streams in our National Education System shall have equal status. Different categories of national schools and national-type schools, fully-aided and partially-aided, should be abolished. On matter of setting up new schools, expanding school buildings, providing school facilities, student intake, teachers and financial allocations, equal treatment shall be given to all streams without any discrimination.
- Establishment of new schools and allocation of school lands for all streams shall be made fairly based on needs.
Religion and Ethnic Cultures
- All schools are prohibited from discriminating the culture, religion and diet customs of any ethnic groups;
- National schools cannot obstruct the religious and cultural activities of students nor forbid the setting up of religious clubs for students.
- In view of the fact that education is an important resource to ensure social mobility and equal participation of children in the democratic society, the state should provide special assistance to children from lower socio-economic background, such as the automatic exemption of various kinds of fees and provision of scholarships or loans;
- State provision of extra educational resources for children from lower socio-economic background should not be regarded as unfair treatment of other students, but to ensure students from various social classes enjoy equal educational opportunity;
- Education at various levels, in particular tertiary education, must take measures to assist students from lower socio-economic background;
- The state must invest more development resources for the benefit of rural students, as many schools situated in remote areas or the interior still do not enjoy basic facilities such as piped water, electricity, land transportation and communication, affecting s eriously the quality of education of rural schools and the rate of access to education;
Native Customary Rights of Orang Asal
- The state should especially set up schools at remote places with a concentration of Orang Asal inhabitants in order to provide for educational opportunity for their children;
- The state should provide for pre-school education in the mother tongue of the Orang Asal, and integrate curriculum which takes into account of their specific needs into national schools;
- The state should set up autonomous bodies for language and culture which preserve and develop the languages and cultures of the Orang Asal communities;
- The state should systematically safeguard the native customary rights of Orang Asal, respect their oral tradition in educating children on traditional knowledge of the natural environment.
- All schools cannot discriminate against students based on sex or sexual orientation, such as obstructing student enrolment, equal enjoyment of resources, etc.
Communities of Special Needs
- Schools should set up special curriculum to assist those with learning difficulties; schools should also train professional mother tongue language teachers and provide comparable resources to students with learning difficulties;
- The state should ensure physically handicapped people enjoy their rights to education and fair share of educational resources;
Multiple and Fair System of University Intake
- The state must ensure that the curriculum and examinations realised by STPM, matriculation, preparatory courses of the Institute of Mara Technology are of equivalent academic standards, and fair treatment of students from various educational streams;
- Our public tertiary educational institutions should allow multiple channels of enrolment, admitting school certificates of equivalent academic standards such as the Unified Examination Certificate , internationally recognised upper secondary school certificates such as A level as qualifications of admission;
- Institute of Mara Technology and University Technology Mara should be open to all candidates regardless of ethnicity, giving priority to students from lower socio-economic background;
- The state should be prudent in taking specific affirmative action measures to avoid contestations, and the unit of decision should consist of specialists of various ethnic and cultural background; affirmative action policies should not be based solely on ethnicity, but socio-economically weak groups and the marginalised indigenous peoples should be given the greatest consideration;
Training of Teachers
- The state should ensure the quality of trained teachers by admitting those with high educational achievement and regardless of ethnic background as its principles.
National Education Syllabus
- The religions, cultures and histories of the various ethnic groups of our country should all be included fairly in the national education syllabus.
- World history textbook should reflect in a balanced way important ancient civilisations and religions of the world and in the Southeast Asian region.
- Curriculum advocating social justice and respect for plurality in various ethnic groups, gender, gender orientations and social classes should be introduced, so as to safeguard and promote the plural features of our society.
Non-profit community educational institutions
- Provided that the National Language is respected and made a compulsory subject, state shall encourage and financially assist any ethnic community to establish their non-profit, community-oriented educational institutions according to the aspirations, need and requirement of the community to teach their mother-tongue as a subject, or use their mother-tongue as the medium of instruction to the highest stage of education, i.e. from pre-school education to primary, secondary, technical and vocational education, university and other tertiary education, or adult and lifelong educational courses.
- State shall not restrict or hinder the establishment, expansion and development of non-profit community educational institutions such as Independent Chinese secondary school and people’s religious school, so far as registration, construction, expansion, medium of instruction, teaching staff, students intake or conducting of examinations are concerned.
The Educational Equality Commission
- The Educational Equality Commission shall be established to regulate and monitor the implementation of the Education Equality Act. Its members shall comprise of representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as various ethnic and religious groups. The Commission shall be answerable to the Parliament.
( Passed on 14 April 2012, 530pm at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)