More other races joining Chinese and Tamil schools in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - More and more non-Chinese pupils have enrolled in Chinese schools over the past few years, as observed by the Education Ministry.

Deputy minister P. Kamalana­than said the number of non-Chinese pupils in Chinese schools has increased and there were also some non-Tamil pupils enrolled in Tamil schools.

"We do not have the specific data on this year's enrollment yet because this is the first week, but we hope to have better information next week once things have settled down.

"It is, however, very progressive and the ministry is absolutely fine with it. What is important is that they go to school," he said.

For example, he said, there were Malay pupils who had enrolled in Tamil schools in his own constituency.

He said the shift in enrolment was helping to open up the vernacular schools to all Malaysians instead of being focused on just one race.

Kamalanathan was speaking to reporters after chairing a briefing on the Indian community's education needs with stakeholders from various education platforms.

Five topics were discussed - preschool strengthening, progress in Tamil schools, challenges in national and secondary schools, enhancing and broadening technical and vocational schools, and benchmarking of tertiary institutions.

"All the problems and their suggested solutions will be compiled by a committee in the ministry and will be passed to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar.

"I will also look through their suggestions, which we will consider implementing when budgeting government allocation for Indian students," he said.

On the new requirements for the Malaysian University English Test, Kamalanathan said universities had been gradually implementing them to benefit their students.

"Most students in the universities have the minimum requirements, but we need to ensure their standard of English is better when they leave.

"By allowing the universities time to adjust to the new requirements, the universities will also have a chance to innovate the methods they use to teach English," he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced in Budget 2015 that the new minimum entry requirement for public universities, previously Band 1 for all courses, is now Band 2 for arts and social science studies, Band 3 for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Band 4 for law and medical studies.