Bring back the English Schools !

NST columnist, Zainul Arifin, asked that English schools be brought back in a NST article today.

I think he has a point and i do agree with his view that :

The importance of communication skills – to be able to speak and write well – as a major determinant of one’s economic potential must be acknowledged, and in some instances, outweigh one’s ability to do sums and understand science.

If the communication ability includes an international language, so much the better. The real world now promotes communication of ideas, knowledge and commerce mainly, and unfortunately, in English.

I am Chinese ed up to secondary school, and I agree that Mother Tongue education is important to let a person learn about the culture and his roots. I also support the right of the parents to let their children study their mother tongue.   Having said that , I think one must also be competent in English if one would like to succeed in this era of globalisation.

So, why not bring back the English Stream as an additional choice for parents. We have the National schools now, which many parents, particularly the non Malays, would not like to send their children to, partly because of the emphasis on religion, and partly because the standard of these schools are deteriorating, as part of the syndrome of Loss Of Excellence in our country.

We have the vernacular schools, the Tamil and the Chinese schools. I do not know much about Tamil schools , so I would leave it to my Indian readers to comment on it, but Chinese schools are certainly better run. These schools know that they need to excel to survive and most of these schools have maintained a rather high standard. There are now thousands of Indians and Bumi students studying in Chinese primary schools because of this.

For the ruling and business elites, they know the poor standard of the National Schools, and many of them are now sending children either overseas  or  to international schools (English schools ) locally because they want their children to have a head start over the others.

But for the majority of the people, they are unable to do so because private education is very costly and out of reach.

SO by bringing back the English schools, we are actually giving the ordinary people more choices. More choices also mean better competition, and better competition will bring better results… better educated and more rounded students.

We must however, continue to keep the existing National schools and vernaculars schools. In that way, those who wish their children to have a better grounding in mother tongues can send them to these schools, but those who wish to let their children  prepare for a more global outlook can perhaps send them to Englsih schools.

It is basically about the right to choose. This is a flat world where everyone is becoming aware of his or her rights as an individual. Most people would like to have the right to choose what is best for their children. While the rich and mighty can have this choice by sending their children to private international schools and overseas, we must extend this right to choose to the ordinary folks.

To make the schools more acceptable, the curriculum can include the study of mother tongue as a language subject. In that way, those going to English schools can have a good command of English as well as his or her mother languages.




9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A true Malaysian
    May 21, 2008 @ 15:44:35

    In the long run, I believe Malaysia need to have a common education system that cater for the needs of its people of all races, religions and cultures.

    The National schools that we have now do not cater for such needs, partly due to emphasis on religion and deteriorating academic standards as you described above, and I should say, biasness in its operations.

    Not only this, certain schools under sponsorship of MARA and matriculation are only cater for certain group of its people.

    As such, there is no strong ‘uniting’ forces that can unite all Malaysian. I believe, if English schools are brought back into the system, surely this will bring good results to Malaysia as English language is no more a native language but a global language that command wide acceptance and usage of the rest of the world.

    Politically, it is not advisable to close down other schools and replaced by English schools as this will surely invite curse and objection from Malaysians. But, I believe, if we bring back English schools which also emphasis on mother tongues as language medium of certain subjects like religion and moral, then vernacular schools will slowly phase out naturally due to diminishing in demand.

    If such scenario become a reality, then we Malaysian can be proud of one education system that truly belongs to all of us.


  2. folo4
    May 21, 2008 @ 18:35:09

    Let me be frank.

    Is anyone out there in the Malaysian political landscape even know about this suggestion, less so, act on it?

    Seriously, with Mahathir’s resignation being on everyone’s mind like a summer blockbuster, none of these suggestions will even be paid attention.


  3. daffodils
    May 21, 2008 @ 23:10:14

    Much as we acknowledge English Language being the lingua franca of knowledge and technology, it is very difficult to implement what you have suggested with good intentions, what with protagonist of the National language insisting that Maths and Science be taught in the National Language.

    English medium schools will not be allowed to supercede the position of National schools. If given a choice, many would definitely flock to English medium schools and this would threaten the position of National schools.

    Do you think this will be allowed?


  4. steven
    May 22, 2008 @ 00:55:25

    Some of these umnoputra education board members are insisting all the subjects in school n university are taught in B.M now, in the name of national “unity”, identity” and “racial pride”. While on the other hand, our ministers own kids are studying oversea in English school, acquiring the necessary language skill and have a head start than other Malaysians that can not afford higher standard of schooling oversea, so will forever behind in their economic and social status in Malaysia.


  5. Dr Hsu
    May 22, 2008 @ 07:47:02

    daffodils,it will be tough and maybe not possible in the foreseeable future. . But after the MArch 8 election, I am slightly more optimistic.

    Anyway, even if it is tough to get this realised, I still think someone needs to talk about this topic. The first few steps are always diifficult, but someone must be there to coax them to walk the first step.

    The irony is those who speak the loudest for BM are those sending their children overseas for secondary education.

    Education is being hijacked by politicians for thier own agenda.
    Sad, isn’t it?


  6. ricky
    May 22, 2008 @ 10:25:17

    Haven’t the call to place more emphasis on English been made eversince it was deemed as unimportant 35 years ago?

    I am not very optimistic that this call to bring back the English language will be taken seriously. In fact even if all future and/or potential investors were to make a public announcement that one of the main reasons why Malaysia has lost her competiveness is because of her English incapabilty, the government will still say Bahasa Malaysia will be the #1 language.

    The only time English will be given more importance will be the day when racial politics cease to exist in Malaysia.

    I am 48 years old. Will I ever live to see that day come?


  7. yh
    May 22, 2008 @ 12:09:42

    this is one classic case of “trying to have the cake and eat it at the same time”.
    sadly, the current schooling system is one of the major impediments to national integration. some hard decisions may have to be made by the Authorities before the racial divide widens further. to me, for the nation’s future, we cant be separating the kids during their key formative years and expect them to integrate after leaving school via a 3 month national service program.


  8. pohwatchdog
    May 23, 2008 @ 22:25:34

    I was educated in Methodist school where my classmates is from multi racial society in the 1970’s. We play, eat, study and fight together. We never think as we are one race
    until we remind by the politician we are Malays, Chinese or Indians. We need a common educational system that can unite us as Malaysians.

    We need dedicated, passionate and enthusiasm for teaching plus the love of children. We have too many subjects that is too examination oriented.

    We need to revamp our English language syllabus to have more grammar exercise, spelling, writing essays. We don’t have to pay incentive payment to those who teached English, Science and Mathematics in schools. A big sums? Afterall are they using the incentive payment to improve their teaching skills and knowledge. It have create dissatisfaction among teachers.

    Ministry of Education should go down to the ground and monitor the real situations. They should get more feedback and not sitting in the ivory tower.


  9. jeff
    May 24, 2008 @ 00:17:09

    High ranking education officials are not sitting in ivory tower, rather having too much ” ketuanan melayu mindset.” The leader is a keris waving racist youth branch.


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