Tamil schools, literature not neglected in Malaysia (Lead)

March 31st, 2010 - 1:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, March 31 (IANS) Amidst vehement criticism by the Indian ethnic minority that Tamil schools and literature are being treated as “step-children” in Malaysia, the deputy prime minister has said these institutions are very much part of the national education system.
Describing as “wild” the allegations from some members in the Malaysian parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin Tuesday said Tamil schools were “part of the national education system and no student was being prevented from learning Tamil language in school”.

Yassin was replying to a question by M. Manogaran, an ethnic Indian lawmaker belonging to the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), who had asked why Tamil language and literature were treated as additional subjects for the matriculation examination.

“That is why the government provides RM 1.8 billion ($549 million) to pay salaries for teachers in Chinese and Tamil schools. If we treat Chinese and Tamil schools like step-children, do you think we will spend that much,” Yassin said.

Yassin, who is also the country’s education minister, said no student was prevented from learning Tamil language in school, New Straits Times reported Wednesday.

Established over a hundred years ago, there are about 525 Tamil schools in Malaysia. The country is home to majority Malays and ethnic minorities like Indians and Chinese.

The Indians, a bulk of them Tamils, who came here during the British era, form roughly seven percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

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