KUALA LUMPUR — January 25, 2018 : The government has since 2009 spent some RM947.5 million for the construction and relocation of Tamil schools as well as upgrading their facilities and providing pre-school classes.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said there are now 530 Tamil schools throughout the country.
He said under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the government has kept its word to assist Tamil schools because “we value its legacy, heritage, and its culture.”
The government’s policy on Tamil schools has yielded encouraging results, he said, noting that a number of students had excelled in the international arena.
“Students are doing very well educationally and in co-curricular activities. Most of the students are good in science and maths while some have gone abroad to pursue their studies,” the deputy minister told The Mole in an interview.
He was asked by The Mole on this issue following persistent front page reports since early this month in a Tamil daily on neglected Tamil schools, that at the same time depicted him as a negligent deputy minister representing the Indian community.
Kamalanathan said in 2012, Najib announced the relocation of 39 Tamil schools and six new licences for Tamil schools.
In 2013, following his appointment as deputy education minister, he initiated the projects for the upgrading and expansion of these schools.
It also saw the first time that the government had given opportunities to Indian contractors to participate in projects of this magnitude.
In tandem with initiatives to bring progress to Tamil schools, the ministry pushed for the promotion of quality teachers in these schools to enable students to benefit from quality education.
Kamalanathan said some 100 teachers have been sent for benchmarking of quality to one of the best universities in India, adding that the number of teachers in these schools has also been increased.
He also pointed out that the subject of Tamil language has already been offered in secondary schools and by 2020, an Indian literature subject will also be taught.
“This shows the development of the Tamil language among our younger generation. As the government has been supportive of the Tamil schools, it is only right for parents to encourage their children to take up those subjects,” he said.
Kamalanathan said since becoming the deputy education minister, he has supervised the construction of seven Tamil schools.
These are SJK(T) Paya Besar, SJK(T) Bandar Mahkota Cheras, SJK(T) Bandar Seri Alam Johor, SJK(T) Heawood Sungai Siput, SJK(T) Taman Sentosa Klang, SJK(T) Taman Keladi Kedah, and SJK(T) PJS1 Petaling Jaya.
The total cost of building the schools was RM139.35 million.
“This clearly shows that the government’s record on the development of Tamil schools is very good as we are committed in ensuring the development and good education quality of Tamil schools,” he said.
On allegations by the newspaper that the government had not done enough to resolve dispute between some Tamil schools and owners of land where they were located, Kamalanathan said this matter actually had nothing to do with the Education Ministry.
“Please be fair. If they (the newspaper owners) are really concerned with the physical development of schools, they should have checked with me and the reporters should know well that if they are fair, they will publish the questions on the issue with my answers to them,” he said.
On the insinuation by the newspaper that he had failed in his duty as a deputy education minister of Indian descent to safeguard the interests of Tamil schools, Kamalanathan said it was unfair to level such an accusation against him.
“I am very focused in my work, so portraying that I have not done my responsibility in this manner is very unfair to me,” he said.
Asked if the reports were untrue, Kamalanathan said the reports were not lies but had told only one side of the story without obtaining facts from him for the whole story to be published.
“They are half-truths,’ he said, adding that the reports were clearly intended to discredit him and an attempt to create hatred among the Indian community towards him.
To his attackers, he has this to say – that he will complete his task given to him because a lot more needs to be done for the upgrading, transformation, infrastructure and development of Tamil schools in the country.
He said the attempt to tarnish his reputation and image will not bring him down nor will it demoralise or demotivate him.
“People will come to understand that this has nothing to do with my work performance personally but if they want rectification, I will rectify and I’m rectifying it and continuously explaining to people about what happen.”
Asked on the future of Tamil schools, he said, they are a legacy.
“It is part of Malaysia’s legacy because we value our legacy, our heritage and our culture.
“If the government was not serious in the development of Tamil schools, they would not have issued six new licences. There is a demand. There is a need.”
Asked if has done enough for Tamil schools, Kamalanathan said what he had done so far was not enough because “progress is never enough and each progress has different bench marks, different limits”.
“I’m happy with the work done but there is more work to be done. Success has no finishing point. It is a continuing journey.” he remarked.