SIBU: Bukit Assek assemblyman, Irene Chang has told the PH government not to back track on its GE14 election manifesto on the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools in the country.
The Education Ministry’s written reply recently to Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri that using English as a medium of instruction in schools, including schools in Sarawak, would violate the Federal Constitution, the National Language Act 1963/67 and the Education Act 1996 is disappointing.
Nancy had asked for the ministry’s stance on Sarawak schools using English as the medium of instruction.
Chang in her response on the matter, reminded the Ministry that in their Sarawak GE14 election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan has promised that if they formed the government, parents in Sarawak shall be given the free hand to have their children educated in Bahasa Melayu, English or Mandarin in schools offering these language options as the medium of instruction.
“The ministry ought to realise that when the Sarawak manifesto was drafted, all component parties of PH in Sarawak had realised the strong local sentiment to bring English back as a medium of instruction in Sarawak. This, in part is due to the recognition that under our Malaysia Agreement 1963, English should be the official language for all purposes, state or federal, without limitation of time. This was encapsulated in the Federal Constitution whereby Article 161 provides for the continued use of English in our state legislative assembly and the courts of law in Sarawak,” she said.
She said various attempts in the past including making English as the medium of instruction in Mathematics and Science, had resulted in many unemployed graduates, who find difficulty in stringing proper sentences in English.
“It is therefore time for the ministry to be more wholesome and holistic in its approach, especially in Sarawak, where proficiency in English is still required in our courts of law and the state legislative assembly,” she added.
She said offering it as a second option of medium of instruction would surely go a long way to overcome this issue and would help to arrest the decline and to allow the younger generation to compete in the global working market.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, she said had also acknowledged the importance of the language when he directed top government officials to take English proficiency test to ensure that they could communicate and negotiate effectively with foreign parties.
The wide usage of English, she said should not be seen as rejecting or undermining the importance of Bahasa Malaysia being the national language of the country.
She said if there is really a will to really deliver the promises made in the manifesto, the Constitution and the relevant laws have to be amended to cater for the need.
“I urge the ministry to reconsider and not to back track on the promises made to the people of Sarawak,” she said.