My Anthem

Sunday, November 03, 2013

I support fellow Journalist's Call to "bring back English..."


Saturday, November 02, 2013

Ho Kay Tat: Bring back English medium to fix our schools

'WE HAVE spent billions on education, but have fallen very short in producing internationally competitive students and bringing young Malaysians of various races together.

That was my take from reading the three-quarter-inch-thick Education Blueprint report. The two main highlights were:

>> We have spent more on education than most countries but the quality of our students, according to two international benchmarks, is ranked in the bottom half and below that of countries that have spent less or the same as us.
>> The school system has not fostered unity among young Malaysians of various races as well as we had hoped for, and in fact, one race makes up 97% of the enrolment in our national primary schools while the others opt for vernacular schools.

Low quality education

"Malaysia's consistently high levels of expenditure on education have resulted in almost universal access to primary education. However, there remains room for improvement on the dimensions of quality," the report says.

Room for improvement is an understatement if you look at some of key findings of the report...'

"Restore English-medium schools

If we can give parents the option of sending their children to Malay, Chinese or Tamil medium primary schools, why can't we offer them a fourth option of English medium schools?  Doing so will not deprive those who want their children to learn in their mother tongue, so the champions of vernacular schools need not complain.

Restoring English-medium schools, even if only at primary school level, will help the country build a reasonably big pool of young Malaysians with a good command of the language - a vital economic asset to the country.

On top of that, these schools will bring together young Malaysians from all races and socio-economic classes who, through studying and playing together, can become the unifying force we need to build a Malaysia that is one.

That is what we had in the Sixties and Seventies. It is time to bring it back. Start with 30 to 40 schools across the country and increase the number as teaching resources improve and according to demand. Citing a lack of resources for not doing it is a lame excuse."


Just imagine: Malay makes up 97% of the enrolment in our national primary schools; while Chinese enrolment in SJKC increased from 92% in 2010 to 96% in 2011. In other words, only 4% of Chinese enrolled in national primary schools.

Ho's suggestion seems very practical and pragmatic to most Malaysians who are not linked to Umno. It is not that our leaders do not know the solution but are unwilling to lose their support base which they had cultivated over half a century. To turn back the clock and admit they made a big mistake in education is almost an impossibility to expect from an Umno riding high on race and religion. Their current excuse is that it may cause instability. Perhaps, by approving more private English schools and with more private funds donated by like-minded philantropists might increase the number of affordable places in such schools.