KUALA LUMPUR: Students enrolled in vernacular type schools can still master the national language, says Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin.
"For instance, there are many out there who can speak fluent Bahasa Malaysia, although they are of a different race.
"Even in this Dewan Rakyat, there are many MPs who are also fluent in BM.
"The best example is YB Ayer Hitam, who is our Transport Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong).
"His Bahasa Malaysia is fluent. It is also the same for our Deputy Education Minister (Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon)," he told Datuk Seri Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) during Question Time.
Shamsul Anuar had asked the Education Ministry whether it would implement a single stream for national schools to ensure that all Malaysians will be able to master the national language.
The ministry, said Mohamad, would maintain the existing policies under Section 17 of the Education Act 1996, which states that the national language shall be the main medium of instruction in all education institutions under the national education system, with the exception for vernacular type schools, established under Section 27 (of the Act) or any other education institutions exempted by the Minister under the same sub-section.
In addition to that, if the main medium of the education institution was other than the national language, Bahasa Malaysia shall be taught as a compulsory subject at the respective educational institution, said Mohamad.
He added that to ensure students could master the national language, the Education Ministry had implemented a roadmap to strengthen Bahasa Malaysia education via a 2016-2025 plan that embraces nine main strategies.
To a question from Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik (PH-Balik Pulau), whether it was mandated for international schools to teach Bahasa Malaysia, Mohamad said any international school under the purview of the Education Ministry must teach the national language in its institution.
"Regarding international schools, they are required to teach the national language if they are within the purview of the ministry," said Mohamad.