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Putting students first

  • All decisions made by the ministry must be with the students' greatest benefits as primary consideration, not any non-education factors.

Sin Chew Daily

Parents of a Tamil primary school and an Indian NGO challenged the implementation of dual language program (DLP) in court, causing it to be halted at the beginning of a new academic year awaiting further instructions from the education ministry.

For the opponents of DLP, it was no doubt a big victory but others are of the opinion that the commotion created could adversely affect the progress of the students.

While both sides are having completely opposing attitudes on this matter, we have to stress that all education issues must be deliberated with the students' benefits as priority.

More than a thousand primary and secondary schools in the country are currently implementing the program, and the number of students involved is very large. Unfortunately state education departments instructed the participating schools via WhatsApp to withhold the program merely two days before school reopening. Such a rushy notice has indeed triggered chaos among those involved.

As a matter of fact, DLP controversies have been in existence for some time now. The program was first introduced by the ministry in 2016 in the midst of public outcry. So far none of the SJKCs in the country has implemented this program, and only 81 Chinese secondary schools have joined in nationwide.

There are reasons why these schools have opted to take part in the program, mainly because it will help lift the students' command of English.

Nonetheless, there are many who feel that this program should not be extended to Chinese or Tamil primary schools so as not to alter the unique characteristics of vernacular schools.

If the ministry believes that DLP will eventually help improve the quality of the students, then it should enhance the teaching effects and not to reverse its decision easily.

Of course, both the ministry and school authorities must be sufficiently prepared to effectively put this program into implementation so as to ensure that students will benefit from it.

In the meantime, the ministry must also respect the choices of parents to make sure the unique characteristics of SJKCs will not be compromised.

Abruptly putting the brakes on DLP is poised to impact the schools and students, and the government must do everything it can to put things back on the right track again.

According to the latest statement released by the education ministry, the DLP program that has been participated by 1,303 primary and secondary schools in the country will go on, but it will only be implemented on Standard One and Form One for the 88 schools joining the program for the first time this year. This means that Standard Four students at these schools will not join the program as yet.

This new policy may not please everyone, but we need to emphasize here that all decisions made by the ministry must be with the students' greatest benefits as primary consideration, not any non-education factors.

 

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