LEARNING CHINESE EDUCATION:
THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE KADAZANDUSUNS
Today, I would like to share with all of you about the new trend among the Kadazandusun parents: Many of them are sending their kids to Chinese schools. Why? Nobody really knows. Based on unofficial information, info that I gathered from my brief discussion with Chinese educators, there are many Kadazandusun children studying in Chinese schools throughout Sabah. In Kota Kinabalu, about 50% of the pupils in SJK (C) Yue Min, Penampang are Kadazandusuns. In SJK (C) St Philip,Tamparuli (60%),SJK (C) St James Tenghilan (80%), SJK (C) Yick Nam, Inanam (40%), Ranau (80%), SJK (C) Yuk Yin, Keningau (40%). Altogether, it is estimated that there are more than 400 Kadazandusun kids studying in various Chinese primary schools throughout Sabah at one particular time. I also send my three children to Chinese schools. The eldest is in SJK (C) Shan Tao, Kota Kinabalu, the second and third are in SJK(C) St James, Likas. It is also heartening to see many Kadazandusun professional parents are sending their kids for Chinese education, starting from Kindergarten level.
The benefits? Well, we have been seeing, and indeed very impressed, with our Kadazandusun youths who are able to communicate in "hua yi", Mandarin, the official language of the Chinese. At least in Sabah, many Kadazandusuns are able to get job in the Chinese-owned or predominantly Chinese business organizations. There, the Kadazandusun staff would not only able to speak their mother tongue but also fluent in Malay, English and Chinese. In such a situation, they are able to contribute more to their respective organizations.
Well, in many ways, the Kadazandusuns seem to be well ahead of the Americans, as the Americans have just started looking into the prospect of learning Mandarin, whereas the Kadazandusuns have realized this more than two decades ago.
According to Asia Society (www.asiasociety.org), the Chinese education has attracted the attention of Americans in the United States. The rise of China presents new economic, political and social realities that demand greater U.S. engagement at every level. As the foundation of that engagement, we urgently need to raise the number of Americans who can demonstrate a functional proficiency in Chinese.
- China ’s tremendous economic growth creates new opportunities and challenges for U.S. businesses. Between 1978 and 2002, China's annual GDP growth reached 9.4%, three times the world's average, and in recent years (2001-2004) China accounted for one third of global economic growth.
- China is an immense market for American goods and services, and a vital supplier to American manufacturers and consumers. U.S. trade with China exceeded $245 billion in 2004 (second only to trade with Canada and Mexico).
- China ’s political importance in the Asia-Pacific region is broadly acknowledged and, particularly since 9/11, its help has been sought on difficult issues like North Korea and terrorism. Collaboration with China is increasingly deemed essential for solving a range of global issues, from nuclear proliferation to the environment, from currency exchange to trade laws.
- As the most enduring world civilization, China has a major international cultural presence, in literature and cuisine, in music and film, dance and art, religion and philosophy, drawing on its tremendous heritage to enrich our present.
- An official language of the United Nations, Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world, extending beyond the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan to Indonesia , Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, to the Philippines, and to Mongolia.
Chinese will top English as the most-used language on the Internet by 2007, according to forecasts by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
- In the United States the Asian and Pacific Islander population is projected to grow 213 percent, from 10.7 million to 33.4 million, in the next 50 years, a substantial demographic shift. Their share of the nation’s population will double, from 3.8 percent to 8 percent.
In this column, I wuld like to say "Congratulations!" to all Kadazandusun parents who see the wisdom in sending their kids for Chinese education. We may not able to see the benefits at the moment but I bet, you'll be grateful with the decision you made now as it will bear the fruits in the next few years, especially when our children are able to participate actively in various activities of the China's economy.