KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - There are more non-Chinese students enrolled in Chinese vernacular schools this year compared to a decade ago, said Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin on Wednesday (Nov 11).
Malay students comprised 15.33 per cent of the total student population in Chinese primary schools in 2020, compared to 9.5 per cent in 2010, Dr Mohd Radzi told Parliament in a written reply.
Ethnic Indians in these Chinese-language schools rose to 2.75 per cent of the total student population this year, versus 1.67 per cent a decade ago.
There are more than 1,200 Chinese and 523 Tamil primary schools in Malaysia that use either Mandarin or Tamil as the medium of instruction.
These are separate from the government-run national schools that use Malay as the medium of instruction.
Under Malaysia's education system, these students, on completing their primary education, will join the national secondary schools or private schools.
The minister said data from his ministry also showed that enrolment into Chinese schools from Malaysia's other races rose from 1.02 per cent in 2010 to 1.67 per cent this year.
He did not give the total number of students in these 1,200-plus Chinese-language schools.
Due to the rising number of non-Chinese in these schools, Dr Radzi said the total number of ethnic Chinese have dropped to 80.25 per cent this year, from 88.16 per cent in 2010.
He was responding to a question in Parliament from an opposition MP about the distribution of students in national schools, Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools and private schools.
For Tamil vernacular schools, the majority of students, 99 per cent, comprised Indian students, the minister said.
"The participation of Malay, Chinese and of other races is less than 1 per cent in the same period," he said.
Dr Radzi said figures showed that the Malay student enrolment in national schools between 2010 until 2020 was between 93 and 94 per cent.
"The enrolment of Chinese students shows a declining trend from 1.17 per cent in 2010 to 0.73 per cent in 2020," he said. This means that fewer Chinese parents are sending their children to national schools.
"The enrolment of Indian students also dropped from 3.15 per cent to 2.63 per cent within the same period," he said.
Meanwhile for private schools, ethnic Chinese recorded the highest number of the total student population, with 65.88 per cent in 2020.
This was followed by Malays including those in Sabah and Sarawak (26.96 per cent), Indians (4 per cent) and other races (3.17 per cent).
"The participation of Malay students have shown an increase of 0.65 per cent while Chinese students showed a declining trend of 0.44 per cent while Indian students also decreased by 0.21 per cent compared to 2019," he said, referring to the private schools.