I READ with interest the report "Still seeking views on English schools" (NST, May 8). It will be a dream come true for many parents should the government bring back English medium schools, which enjoyed its heyday in the years before independence right up to the mid-1970s.
However, the government must ensure that the quality of our English teachers is improved first. We do not want another fiasco like that which affected the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), where the teachers were found to be ill-trained in English to teach these two subjects in the language.
We have lost a generation of students whose education was conducted in Bahasa Malaysia and, hence, we now have teachers who are also weak in the English language.
The glory days of our own Kirkby- and Brinsford-trained teachers are long gone.
Our country missed a golden opportunity in creating and sustaining a unified nation through education when politicians with their own agendas started messing with our education system.
The British bequeathed to us an excellent education system with English being the medium of instruction. Past and present prime ministers all had an English education and it shows when they speak in international forums.
Then came policy changes in the education system, namely, changing of the medium of instruction from English to Bahasa Malaysia in the 1970s.
Back then, everyone felt comfortable with English being the medium of instruction.
Bahasa Malaysia had always been our national language and it was never neglected as it was a compulsory subject. There were no language chauvinists, unlike now, to make statements proclaiming that only by using their own mother tongue would the children benefit.
Many parents of my era weren't English educated and yet, they enrolled their children for English-medium schools.
To know one's mother tongue is useful and that was provided for in the pupils' own language classes.
Nowadays, the choice is limited to national schools -- where the medium of instruction is in Bahasa Malaysia, with lukewarm emphasis on English -- and vernacular schools.
National and vernacular schools have their own supporters whose actions and comments can be considered as chauvinistic at times, much to the chagrin of others who don't subscribe to such views.
Many non-Malays enrol their children in Chinese and Tamil schools because they view national schools as being dominated by one race.
I make sure my children mix around with children of different races in my neighbourhood and I am glad to see that they get along fine.
When I started schooling, I was colour blind and I am sure most of our young children still are. Only when I was in secondary school and exposed to the political scenario were my eyes opened to the differences.
The solution to this problem is for the government to have the political will to bring back English-medium schools alongside national and vernacular schools.
Let parents decide on which type of school they wish to enrol their children into.
With globalisation, English is an indispensable communication tool.
English should not be confined to private institutions and international schools only, where parents who are financially well off can enrol their children. It should be open to all, regardless of their financial standing.
Also, many Malaysians are aware of hypocrites among politicians who market themselves as nationalists and will do anything to argue against bringing back English as a medium of instruction in the education system.
English should not be considered as an affront to the national language. The government has to be brave in overcoming the resistance from these pseudo-nationalists for the betterment of our youth and country.