Sabah ready to set up own state-funded English medium schools, says Abdul Rahman

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah should be allowed to set up its own state-funded English me­­dium schools, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rah­man Dahlan.

He said Sabah could take the lead in starting government English schools as the matter has been deba­ted across the country for many years.

“While we are still debating this issue after so many years, perhaps we in Sabah should start first if the peninsula is not ready yet,” Abdul Rahman said when launching the English-For-Employment Programme (E4E) at Cosmopoint College here yesterday.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that speaking English will make us abandon Bahasa Malay­sia, or become less patriotic.

“But if the country is not ready, let us start with Sabah,” said Abdul Rahman, who added that he had broached the subject with the Prime Minister, the Sabah Chief Minister, as well as his Cabinet colleagues since first rai­sing it on April 22.

“I can tell you, most of them are supportive, but we have to do some tweaking with the Education Act, but not the Constitution,” he said, urging Sabahans to get their respective elected representatives to support the propo­sal.

“Show me this is what they want, I need the people of Sabah and Sarawak, and hopefully the whole of Malaysia ... if I am given a chance, I would like to roll this out throughout the country,” he said, adding that it had nothing to do with politics.

In his speech, Abdul Rahman said competency in English would increase the marketability of graduates, who will be better poised to meet the demands of the globalised workplace.

“Better English proficiency will mean higher employability and that will ultimately translate to better, high-quality jobs. Your access point to the global market becomes so much wider when you are fluent in English,” he added.

He said English fits in nicely with efforts to bump up graduate employability, such as initiatives by agencies under the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) like Yayasan Peneraju, TalentCorp Malaysia, and Ekuinas with government-linked companies and the private sector.

“The joint effort with EPU has a pivotal role in shaping the country’s social and economic development.

“Since its launch in 2011, more than 100,000 graduates have benefited from Skim Latihan 1Malaysia,” said Abdul Rahman, who also praised EPU’s joint effort with Cosmopoint College which is called the English-4-Employment programme, in providing prac­tical English lessons to students as going in the “right direction”.