NOVEMBER 15 — We refer to ‘Sagah: Sarawak’s own assessment system for Year 6 vital for Dual Language Programme’ (DLP) on 2 November 2023.
We applaud the Sarawak Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development Datuk Sri Roland Sagah Wee Inn for realising that the DLP is really a jewel in the crown among the initiatives formulated by the Ministry of Education (MoE).
He is ready to capitalise on DLP to ensure that the Sarawak workforce will be prepared as it continues to embark on its ambitious plans for the state. Sarawak has a vision and a mission to work towards.
Thus, we agree that Sarawak is justified in wanting its own assessment system to ensure that the young are on the right track as there is no room for any deviation. We caution that it must not just be conducted for the sake of it but that the data should be used effectively in order for steps and interventions to be taken where necessary.
The MoE needs to view the DLP from a wider and more dynamic lens rather than manipulating the guidelines to find ways and means to annihilate it.
Currently, only 20.74 per cent of primary schools and 33.21 per cent of secondary schools offer DLP.
Subtracting the number of Sarawak schools, the primary schools in the rest of Malaysia offering DLP significantly drops to 5.34 per cent only. In terms of pupils, only 7.44 per cent of primary and 12.17 per cent of secondary school students are eligible to enrol in DLP classes.
As far as fully residential schools are concerned, specifically Ulul Albab, Science and Agama, it started with 51 offering full DLP classes. Now only 19 of these fully residential schools offer all DLP classes.
The rest of the 32 fully residential schools now offer a combination of DLP and non-DLP classes thus diluting the dynamism of the programme. It is rumoured that DLP will be completely abolished in fully residential schools save for Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) and Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (TKC) for some strange reason.
Under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, Mara had started DLP in all its 57 MRSM schools which are categorised as Ulul Albab, Technical, Premier and IGCSE.
In 2023, DLP was abolished in all MRSM save for the 12 schools offering IGCSE. The abolishment even includes the students in Forms Two, Three and Four who are already immersed in DLP.
Even more cruel is that these students, overnight, are being taught science and mathematics in Malay while using English textbooks for reference.
To the day schools that are conducting DLP fully, be forewarned that the new guidelines to be released soon may require one class to be sacrificed to offer non-DLP for imaginary students, ignoring parents’ written request which is a prime criterion.
With a considerable budget, DLP should instead be re-looked, re-studied and reviewed to consciously and systematically expand the number of DLP schools, DLP classes and increase significantly the number of pupils enjoying DLP.
The training of teacher trainers, teacher trainees and in-service teachers need to be boosted as this appears to be the main obstacle.
Parents are more discerning now. Mother tongue could mean the English language for some families. It cannot be assumed anymore that mother tongue is race-based.
Sarawak is single-minded about DLP. It is pushing ahead regardless of the challenges beginning with 1,265 primary schools in 2019. Penang too has demanded for all its schools to be DLP as it requires a coherent workforce to attract foreign direct investments.
Johor and Selangor too should push for more schools offering DLP as both have strong manufacturing and commercial sectors.
There is no place for State Directors of Education who have no vision to lead students into the unrelenting future of demanding challenges to enjoy a better quality of life in their adulthood.
It is time to act fast.
*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.