TAMIL schools have longstanding issues, such as poor infrastructure, limited facilities, old buildings, lack of administrative staff and government assistance.
Though much has been dispensed to Tamil schools over the years, the rate of development to upgrade their facilities and infrastructure has been slow. There are 523 Tamil schools in the country. Many of them are in estates and are in a poor state.
These estate schools once enjoyed good enrolment but are now under-enrolled because many estate workers have migrated to towns in search of better jobs.
These estates are now mostly deserted or are manned by foreign workers. As a result, Tamil schools in estates are facing student shortages and are in a state of neglect.
These estate schools, which account for 70 per cent of Tamil schools, are partially aided by the government, and the Education Ministry has limited jurisdiction over them.
Most of the buildings are old and in dire need of repairs. They do not have proper facilities such as classrooms, toilets, canteens, libraries, teachers' rooms, offices, fields and halls.
The status of these schools has to be changed from partially-assisted schools to fully-aided schools. Only then can the Education Ministry look into the infrastructure of the schools.
Relocating under-enrolled schools to other areas could inconvenience the children and parents. Only 155 Tamil schools are located in urban areas and are fully-aided by the government and have new buildings and good infrastructure.
The quality of teaching staff in Tamil schools has improved by leaps and bounds. In the 1990s, 30 per cent of the teachers were untrained, today, only one per cent are untrained and 45 per cent have a bachelor's degree.
The teaching of the national language has to be improved. Achievement in Bahasa Malaysia is at 70 per cent.
Many pupils perform poorly in the Bahasa Malaysia in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah.
Remedial classes to improve pupils' performance have been organised by specialist teachers for BM and English. Preschool education opportunities for Tamil children is limited. Only 40 per cent of the Tamil schools have preschools, which are fundamental for child development.
There is no need to build or open new Tamil schools. It would be enough to maintain and improve the condition of the 523 Tamil schools in the country to be on a par with the national schools.
Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Opinion letters-to-the-editor tamil-schools-improve-facilities-of-schools 04 May 2014