T3 Development of Education in Malaysia

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2. The Vernacular Educational System

The British Colonial administrator allows different ethnic groups to establish their own school to cater for their own need to educate the younger generations. The schools use the pupils’ own language as the medium of instruction that led to the establishment of vernacular schools.

2.1 The Chinese vernacular schools

The British colony had brought in Chinese from mainland China to Malaya to work at the tin mines and in urban areas. Chinese schools were established and financed by this community until the 1920’s as the British colonial government did not consider it an obligation to provide education to the transient population (Annual Report of the Resident General of the Federated Malay States, 1901 in Vishalache, 2010). The curriculum, textbooks and teachers were brought in from China.The first Chinese school was set up in Malacca in 1816 by a group of missionaries from London.

In the early 20th century, the Chinese schools were very much influenced by the reformation movement in mainland China. Kang Yu Wei, a Chinese scholar, introduced a modern and more systematic curriculum in the Chinese schools in Malaya and Singapore. This curriculum included subjects such as History, Geography, Science, Mathematics, Ethics, Writing, Physical Education and Music. Schooling was divided into six years of primary, three years of Junior Middle and three years of Senior Middle school.

The British Colonial Government had misunderstood and feared that the Chinese community may became the breading ground for communism, as the new national curriculum which intended to form a independent Malaya provided an avenue for the British to interfere in the administration of Chinese schools. The British government introduced the School Registration Ordinance to control the administration and expansion of Chinese schools. In 1924, some Chinese schools received financial aid from the British government with terms and conditions that control the curriculum to be locally based instead of adopting the China curriculum. Further more, English and Malay language were introduced and implemented as compulsory subjects. By 1938, a total of 684 Chinese schools received this financial aid.


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