As of 2014, there are a total of 155 Government SJKTs and 368 Government aided SJKTs.68 Over 70% of the schools are located in rural areas. The relative popularity of SJKTs have increased: in 2015, an estimated 55% of primary schoolgoing Indian children (85,473 students) went to SJKTs compared to 47% in 2000.70 A large-scale survey of IB40 respondents revealed that 79% prefer SJKTs to other school types, the majority of which citing culture and language as the reason.
In 2015 only 47% of SJKT students passed all subjects in the UPSR examinations compared to the national average of 66%. While performance in Mathematics is consistently high, underperformance in Bahasa Melayu and English contributes to problems in transitioning and mainstreaming into Bahasa Melayu-medium national secondary schools, which may not be entirely resolved by the currently mandated remedial Remove Classes (“Kelas Peralihan”).
Key Issues & Current Interventions
- One of the biggest issues faced by SJKTs is poor infrastructure. Acknowledging the poor condition of the schools, the Government has made a commitment to enhance the state of SJKT classrooms and facilities by allocating approximately RM800 million since 2009. The Government has also established a unit within the Prime Minister’s Department, PTST, in 2012 to ensure delivery of this commitment particularly amongst Government-aided schools. Approximately 346 schools have been upgraded since 2009.However, an estimated 140 more are still in poor condition.
- Less than 40% of SJKTs have computer labs, which is needed for full implementation of the national curriculum. Information and communication technology (ICT) literacy is critical to build a knowledge economy. An exemplary initiative to improve ICT literacy amongst SJKT children is the Program Titian Digital77. 58 Government-aided Tamil schools are participating in this program that helps to equip schools with ICT labs and trains students in ICT literacy.
- Another significant issue related to SJKTs is the capacity of teachers. Only 45% of SJKT teachers have a Bachelors degree and above; the majority of the remainder have SPM as their highest qualification. Government has instituted a program of continuous professional development for teachers. PTST and SEDIC have supplemented these efforts by expediting the training of teachers in targeted subjects and working with the MOE to train and redesignate nonlanguage teachers to become multi-subject teachers (“Guru Opsyen”).
- As mentioned in the IB40 section, schools and teachers should be equipped, sensitised and trained to address needs of underperforming children from underprivileged homes, including those attending SJKTs.
Moving Forward: Recommendations & Initiatives
In response to demand from the Malaysian Indian community, the Government approved the establishment of 6 additional fully-funded SJKTs in 2012. This Blueprint is in favour of continuing the approach of new SJKT approval on a case-by-case basis. The focus of this Blueprint is on efforts to close performance gaps in existing SJKTs and to assist students in transitioning to a Bahasa Melayu-medium secondary school environment.
To deliver on these targets, this Blueprint aims to effect the following:
1. The SJKT Action Plan
The SJKT Action Plan, published by PTST in 2014, comprises extensive measures to ensure SJKT classrooms and facilities are upgraded; teacher qualifications and capabilities are increased; students are prepared for mainstreaming; and under-enrolled schools are relocated or otherwise strengthened.
Effective implementation of the SJKT Action Plan will be monitored throughout the Blueprint period.
2. Increase community participation to help close gaps
This Blueprint proposes to establish a Tamil School Development Advisory Board within the ambit of the streamlined Education Team of the MIB Implementation Unit. The Board shall plan and assist in evaluating the long-term development of SJKTs.
This Blueprint also proposes to set up more private sector partnerships to improve SJKT facilities. For targeted SJKTs, including under-enrolled SJKTs, this Blueprint proposes to explore implementing the Trust School model to bring about rapid or wide-ranging performance turnaround. Blueprint proposes to publish a league table of SJKTs that rates SJKT performance in all key indicators of school quality relative to minimum standards.