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Alarming trend

  • While more Indian students are taking Tamil, Chinese students are shunning their mother tongue.

Sin Chew Daily

There have been fewer than 300 candidates sitting for the STPM Chinese paper for each of the past three years, sounding an alarm bell for the sustained development of Chinese language education in this country.

According to the statistics on the Examination Council's website, 550 people sat for the paper in 2013, down by almost half to only 275 and 284 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

From what we learn, during the heyday of Chinese education, there were up to 4,000 STPM candidates sitting for the paper.

A steady decline in the number of candidates sitting for the Chinese language paper has almost become an inevasible trend which exists not only in STPM but also SPM.

54,947 students took SPM Chinese in 2010, but only 44,208 did so last year.

The weird thing is, we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of students taking STPM Tamil in recent years, with about 800 this year. Despite the lower ethnic Indian population in Malaysia, more and more students are taking the Tamil language vis-à-vis a steady decline in the number of candidates sitting for the Chinese paper.

How is the local Indian community promoting the learning of Tamil? What are the key factors for this phenomenon? These are the things we should explore seriously.

Following the rise of China as an economic power, the economic value of the Chinese language should be remarkably boosted and by right there should be more people eager to learn the language. Unfortunately this is not the case in real life, and there must be factors that have contributed to this phenomenon.

The decline in the number of candidates sitting for the Chinese paper may not have a near-term impact on the development of Chinese education in Malaysia, but if this trend were to persist, it will definitely affect the source of qualified Chinese language teachers and will hinder the continued development of Chinese education in the long run. This is why the local Chinese community has become so alarmed by the downtrend.

To reverse the trend, it is imperative that the education ministry look into the problem whereby it is difficult for students to score a credit in the Chinese paper.

In addition, parents and students must also reassess the value of the language and not to have the wrong stereotyped impression that those taking Chinese will have limited job prospects.


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