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Parent groups in several states continue to push back on DLP taught in BM, says there are other ways to improve national language

Publish date: Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 07:56 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — Parents in several states who enrolled their children in schools where the Dual Language Programme (DLP) is available are insisting that the Ministry of Education (MOE) review the decision of directing schools to allocate at least one class that teaches the DLP subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.

After resistance from Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) on the decision, Parent-Teacher Associations from 11 Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan and Sekolah Menengah Cina in Penang had on Wednesday (June 5) joined calls to request the MOE to honour parents’ preferences and retain the original intent of the DLP for Science and Mathematics subjects.

Magpie chairman Mak Chee Kin, however said it has been almost a month since they raised the matter through the media, and have not received any engagement from the MOE.

"We don’t understand the rational behind ‘forcing’ 12 schools to execute the directive from MOE.

"(In the 12 schools), there is no demand for DLP to be taught in Bahasa Malaysia; the schools faced no problems and in fact are doing very well, the principals are happy and have plans to carry on with he DLP as it is.

"These are top choice schools, sacrificing one class (to teach the DLP in Bahasa Malaysia) will not help to improve the command of Bahasa Malaysia among students,” Mak told Malay Mail when contacted.

The DLP, a programme under the Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia Mengukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI) (Malay for upholding the Bahasa Malaysia language and strengthening the English language) was first introduced in 2016 whereby 300 schools were placed under a pilot project giving them an option to teach Science and Mathematics subjects in English.

By 2018, the government then under prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak approved the DLP for 1,303 schools.

Mak added that the decision was unnecessary as Bahasa Malaysia is already used as the teaching medium in all the other subjects.

"If there are children who are still weak in Bahasa Malaysia, something is very wrong with the system, but please don’t blame it on the DLP.

"In fact there are other ways to improve MBMMBI, for example make it compulsory to have a Bahasa Malaysia speaking week, have Bahasa Malaysia essay and speaking competition etc,” he said.

Magpie had on April 28 voiced their objections against the decision that parents in schools claim was executed in a rush.

"We had a press conference with 12 parent-teacher associations in April objecting to the directive that was issued on March 19.

"But schools started the term on March 11, thus school principals were forced to select some students to open up a class (for the purpose).

"Ministers come and go, but our children are the main victims if education is used as a political battle ground,” he said.

By right, he said the MOE should be focusing on issues such as teachers grievances like too much workload, shortage of teachers, instead of a teaching the DLP in Bahasa Malaysia.

"Right now, we are hoping to meet with the minister, to discuss this issue further. If the MOE met the groups in Penang, we are requesting that the minister meet us too,” Mak said.

Educationist and Parent Action Group for Education (Page) founder Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim who agreed with Mak, said if there are students who are weak in Bahasa Malaysia there should be an extra lesson or class conducted to help these children.

"Schools should not have to sacrifice one DLP class for this purpose. As it is the percentage of schools that have DLP is low.

"On top of which, the students who are placed in this DLP class that teaches in Bahasa Malaysia, seemed to be picked at random.

"This is why parents are up in arms over the decision because their children are suddenly placed in a class that is not of their choice,” Noor Azimah said when contacted.

She too said that with so many other subjects taught in Bahasa Malaysia in school, by right there should be no issues of students not being able to master the language.

"Improve teaching methods, have better teachers, don’t blame the students.

"Some of the teachers who are teaching Bahasa Malaysia are not even qualified to teach the language and that is probably why students are falling behind in the language,” she added.

When asked if this would affect students transition to university especially in subjects like Science and Mathematics, which are subjects required in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Noor Azimah said a situation as such is likely to happen.

"Why wait until they enter university to introduce them to the subjects in English?

"It will be too late by then, as there will be a lot of catch up to do, on top of the complexity of the subjects at university level,” she said.

In contrast, Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad, from Universiti Malaya’s Department of Media and Communication Studies said the teaching of Science and Mathematics subjects in the context of DLP is not intended to improve the Malay language, but to dignify the language as a language of knowledge and provide students with a better understanding of the subject.

"The DLP subjects taught in Bahasa Malaysia is done in the interest of students on top of ensuring that Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be used in the national education system,” Mohamad Salleh said when contacted.

As for mastering the Bahasa Malaysia, he said this could be done through socialising, co-curricular activities and through an educational method that is not too complicated.

"It is not necessary to make available extra classes solely for Bahasa Malaysia if it would only make things difficult for students.

"What is important is cross-disciplinary learning. If Bahasa Malaysia is used in all subjects, he mastery of the language is higher.

"But what is happening now is the opposite, that is, English is more glorified to a point of Malay language being degraded, resulting in the language being left out in its own land,” he said.

On the possibilities of such DLP classes affecting the passing marks of STEM, Mohamad Saleeh asked if students who were taught Science and Mathematics subjects in Bahasa Melayu have been facing difficulties in passing the STEM subjects.

"There is no guarantee an increase of students passing the STEM, but rather it makes it more difficult for students and could deter them from the STEM subjects.

"Complex subjects as such is easier when taught in the mother tongue and not in a foreign language.

"I am of the view that, especially in Penang, they have a duty to implement the DLP class, why is the Malay language opposed in a county that has an education Act that mandates the use of Malay language?” he said.

Mohamad Saleeh stressed that the move by the MOE in this direction is much needed now.

"The MOE should not give in to those who are against the DLP classes that are taught in Bahasa Malaysia.

"We are ready to defend the Malay language in schools because that is the only tool to ensure that the education system functions as a nation-building school,” he said.

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