Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid today declared the government would not allow national schools to become “too Islamic”, stressing that Malaysia is a modern Muslim nation.
“We will not see this happening,” he said in addressing the concern among some non-Muslim parents, although he refused to elaborate on his definition of the term “too Islamic”.
Mahdzir told FMT this after launching the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 here today. Present was his deputy, P Kamalanathan.
He was asked if national schools were becoming too Islamic, following an FMT report quoting Prof Teo Kok Seong, who said research had revealed that non-Muslim parents were uncomfortable with the religiosity in some schools.
This included Islamic recitations during the school assembly.
Teo is a former member of the National Education Advisory Council.
On the findings of the very same research that an increasing number of non-Malay parents were sending their children to private schools, Mahdzir said this could be attributed to the success of Malaysia’s education system.
He said it showed the same education system had created a middle class and upper middle class, which can now afford private schools.
“If they can afford it, there is nothing wrong in them sending their children to international schools.
“If we do not have international schools here, the parents will send their kids overseas to study.”
Some parents, he explained, opted to send their kids to private schools because they had better facilities, coupled with the fact that classrooms in such schools were smaller, with fewer than 30 students, compared with national schools.