WE refer to “Tamil school’s dual-language legal limbo” report in The Malaysian Insight on December 29, 2017.
The Education Act 1996 states that, as a “general principle, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents”.
The Dual Language Programme (DLP) is a programme that allows the learning of STEM subjects in its lingua franca, which is English, and, at the same time, enhances proficiency in the English language and is the culmination of months of deliberation by diverse apolitical parties, including the private sector with the Education Ministry facilitating the decision.
SJKT Vivekananda Petaling Jaya was declared a DLP school in 2017. However, at the eleventh hour, the Education Ministry had, in a letter dated December 20, ordered the Selangor State Education Department to indefinitely postpone the DLP in 2018 for the new intake of Standard One and eager Standard Four pupils in that school, pending a lawsuit. The Selangor State Education Department then informed the school principal of the same in a letter dated December 26.
In the meantime, parents had registered their children in Standard One and are excitedly awaiting its start, along with those being elevated to Standard Four. Together, they are looking forward to the DLP. But now, their hopes have been dashed and they have been left confused.
The parents of SJKT Vivekananda Petaling Jaya pupils have appealled for the DLP to continue, yet, the ministry continues to remain unresponsive and insensitive, which is contrary to what is provided for in the Act.
We question the logic of this reasoning. Why would a pending lawsuit jeopardise the future of 6- and 9-year-old children whose parents only want more English language hours in their chosen curriculum? Lawsuit can be long drawn and time is ticking for the children. Until a decision is made, the status quo should remain.
The parents could picket, seek an injunction to continue the DLP thus maintaining the status quo until the courts decide, initiate a mediation process as an alternative for dispute resolution or sit down and agree on amicable terms.
Once a school is declared to have DLP status, there should be no turning back unless there is a formal reversal of the programme. Parents want their children to have the best education they can, which they see is possible with the DLP.
The ministry should not at all costs allow personal or political manoeuvres to interfere with the education of our children. Children are not to be made anyone’s sacrificial lamb. – December 31, 2017.
* Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim is chairman of the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia.