ENGLISH-MEDIUM SCHOOLS: Policymakers should reinstate them
THE national education dialogues that are ongoing have called for the reintroduction of English-medium schools to improve students' command of English as a communication and knowledge tool. The report, "Still seeking views on English schools" (NST, May 8) has the Education Ministry studying the legal implications of reintroducing them.
Parents as the major stakeholders in the education of their children can decide on the school of their choice for their children. The preamble of the Education Act of 1966 states that pupils are to be educated according to the wishes of their parents. Parents, parent- teacher pressure groups and Parents Action Group For Education have been calling for the reintroduction of English-medium schools.
The report, "National Union of the Teaching Profession supports English-medium schools move" (NST, May 9) has the NUTP in favour of bringing back English-medium schools.
There seems to be a strong case for the reintroduction of English-medium schools.
English-medium schools are the answer to arresting the declining standards of the English language in the country. English-medium schools were in existence before the 1970's.
Today our education system has national and national type schools that cater for children whose mother tongue is Malay, Chinese and Tamil.
However, there is a growing minority of Malaysians of diverse ethnic backgrounds whose mother tongue or first language is English. These are the children of the 1960s and 1970s era whose parents were schooled in English-medium schools.
Many of the people of this era regard the English language as their first language and communicate to their children in English. And it is these minority groups that have not been catered to in the present education system. These children are proficient and competent in the English language because the language is widely spoken in their homes by their parents. Many of these children are put in national or national type schools and have difficulty understanding the language of instruction.
Disadvantaged by the language of instruction, some children drop out of school. Many parents have lost confidence in schools because of the medium of instruction. Therefore, it is not surprising to see many parents sending their children to private and international schools which use English.
Though these schools are expensive, their business is booming and such schools are mushrooming and flourishing, especially in Kuala Lumpur.
Many parents in Johor Baru are sending their children to schools in Singapore. For a start, the government can utilise the services of foreign English language teachers from Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States who are based in selected schools nationwide to monitor English-medium schools.
The decision to reinstate English medium schools should rest on the vision, mission and development of individuals and the nation for the information age.
Hopefully, policymakers will look beyond short-term results as a knowledge-based economy can only thrive with the language of knowledge.