Prof. Datuk Dr. Zainal bin Kling was born on 27 November 1944 in Malacca at the end of Japanese occupation in Malaya. He grew up in a Malay village and went to a Malay school in 1950. The 'Malay School "- the only education system being applied by almost all Malay villages. By only completing the lower sixth grade, Malay children would only become labourers, farmers, fishermen or police and army personnel who risk their lives for the safety of the public which was considered as the lowest working strata in the society. That was established by the British, except for a few Malays who became officers and general workers in government departments.
Rumours of independence and the awareness of a small number of Malay aristocrats and officials such as (Tun) Abdul Razak, who became the Minister of Education and produced the "Razak Report" in 1955, enabled him to enter the 'Malay Secondary School' through the 'remove class' experiment in 1956 at the English Government School, Pasir Putih, Ipoh. This was the first attempt on the establishment of the Malay secondary school over hundreds of years whereby the Malay education was only up to primary level. Although the 'SMC' (Special Malay Class) was already practiced before the war, this stream only enabled Malay students to be enrolled into the English Government Schools.
The Malay Secondary School later became Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (STAR), Tiger Lane, in Ipoh Perak, a modern school honouring the name of the first Yang Dipertuan Agong. From a poor Malay educated student, he developed to be someone very modern and benefitted until form six and entered Universiti Malaya in 1964. Indeed STAR is a sparkling star up in the sky that has enabled thousands of Malays to shine in education. They no longer leave school to belong to the underprivileged group in society. A decade of his life in a hostel had raised Zainal in a vicious circle of Malay educational oppression.
He pursued his studies at Universiti Malaya (UM) and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A. Hons) in 1964-1966/67, Masters of Arts (M.A. Hons) at the same university in 1967-1969-70 and pursued to PhD. level at the University of Hull, England in 1970-1973/74.
The history of Prof. Datuk Dr. Zainal's career began when he was offered as an instructor (tutor) at UM from June 1967 - September 1969, then he became an assistant lecturer from February 1974 to December 1977, awarded the title Associate Professor from December 1977-1992 and appointed as a full Professor in 1992.
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