KUALA LUMPUR: Former National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam believes that forging national unity can best be served by ensuring that education standards are high.
“Back in the day, people flocked to national schools because the standards were high. The main focus of teachers should be to produce the best brains for the country,” he said.
“If we can assure parents that national schools are offering top quality education, more people will send their children to national schools,” the 2011 Tokoh Guru recipient said, adding that it was also necessary to have a multiracial teaching force.
“The child’s interest is more vital than the race of the teacher. If I can provide quality education, and bring them up as individuals who can contribute to the country, it doesn’t matter what race I am,” he said.
With some 33 years of service under his belt, Siva Subramaniam, who has also served as Cuepacs president and is a former Suhakam commissioner, said his former teachers inspired him to join the profession.
“For example, my primary school headmaster, Francis Ho, was a teacher I loved very much. Even when he caned me when I was naughty, he would later call me back to his room to give me food – because he knew I was from a poor family.
“So I knew he really cared for me,” he said.
While lamenting that Malaysians today seemed to be more suspicious of each other, Siva Subramaniam said there were still many good schools and teachers.
“There are still schools where parents line up to register their children, and there are still many teachers and school heads who are exemplary. The ministry should look into what makes such schools so popular and implement changes to schools across the country.
“I would think the main reason for their popularity is the values they impart to their students,” he said.
If so, what sort of values should schools impart for the sake of national unity?
“First of all, they must treat all children equally. Schools should also instil in students a love for our leaders, respect for the country’s laws and respect for diversity,” he said. PRIYA KULASAGARAN The STAR Home News Nation Thursday September 11, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM