KUCHING: The Old Josephians Association (OJA), comprising former students of St Joseph’s School here, supports the call for English-medium schools to be revived.
Its president, Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, said English was a universal language of communication, science and arts, providing the most effective access to historical and current developments in international interaction, scientific achievements, artistic appreciation and cross-cultural empathy.
“Unless our children are proficient and confident in the use of English, they will be disadvantaged in their pursuit of knowledge and being connected to the rest of the world in an age of globalisation and the Internet,” he said in a statement.
“We want our children to be loyal Sarawakians who are also citizens of the world. We need our schools to educate them so that they stay rooted to their motherland.
“But our schools must also be equipped to inspire them with the values, zeal and imagination to support larger causes such as protecting the environment and battling against social ills like extremism and racial chauvinism.”
There have been calls by various quarters to revive English-medium schools, with the latest coming from the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, who said Malaysia should adopt Singapore’s education policy of using English as a medium of instruction to forge national unity and achieve greater development.
Dr Sim said OJA comprised many generations of students who benefited from an English-medium education provided by St Joseph’s School.
“We – Dayaks, Malays, Chinese, Indians and others – studied and played together in racial harmony. We made lifelong friends regardless of race or creed.
“Our alma mater prepared so many of us to confidently go overseas for tertiary education and quite a few won international scholarships to study in the best universities in the world,” he said.
Since independence in 1963, he added, the vast majority of the state cabinet, senior civil servants and leaders of various professions were beneficiaries of English-medium schools.
“We are speaking up because we are part of possibly the last generation of Sarawakians who studied in English-medium schools. We cherish the invaluable legacy that such schools imparted to us.
“Before this generation passes on, we have a historic opportunity to revive the type of schools that so many of us benefited from and knew well how they made us and helped make Sarawak a beacon of racial harmony and a voice of moderation in Malaysia,” Dr Sim said.