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PETALING JAYA, Nov 22 — Education groups responded with a resounding “yes” to a Cabinet minister’s suggestion to reintroduce English-medium schools.
Responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who said Putrajaya needed support to realise such a policy shift, Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said she fully backed the move.
However, she said there needed to be strong political will to push through such plans while taking steps to ensure that Bahasa Malaysia will not be relegated.
“To ensure the Malay language is not relegated, we should insist that students who enrol in English-medium schools first attain the national average score for Bahasa Melayu,” she said.
Noor Azimah proposed that English-medium schools be first introduced in states which were open to the move.
“As these programmes mature, others would see the merits of such a system,” she said.
“This move has been sought after for some time and will boost the process, if not complete it. Focus on the states with zero-resistance while the others — that have been silent, indifferent or even downright hostile — can turn green with envy.”
Noor Azimah said such schools needed to be initially geared towards the production of English-proficient teachers that the education system needed.
“Allow the existence of such schools for the purpose of mainly producing highly-skilled and much-needed English language teachers.
“We have to accept the fact that Malay-medium schools do not produce the best English-language teachers,” she said.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said the group supports the English-medium schools proposal as it had been lobbying for the return of the Teaching Science and Mathematics in English policy which was abolished in 2009.
“Parents have been voicing the issue since 2009, but we were branded anti-government, unpatriotic or glorifying English,” he said.
“Though many politicians knew the benefits of English-medium schools and supported them, they could not highlight the issue as their political survival was at stake, as highlighted by the minister (Abdul Rahman).”
Mak said the only way for the policy to become a reality was for politicians to push it through.
“If they are sincere, they must act on it. It is our hope that this is not merely political rhetoric.”
Education, Welfare and Research Foundation president SP Nathan said the non-governmental organisation had always advocated the introduction of schools in multiple mediums as it would improve the quality of students.
“English is the language of business and it will be an advantage to our students who are facing a competitive job market,” he said.
The introduction of additional mediums would provide a bigger choice for parents he said.