KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry should justify the reason behind the new conditions under the Dual Language Programme (DLP) guidelines, says Ayer Itam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic).
The MCA president questioned the ministry over the “prerequisite” for DLP classes where there must be a minimum of one full class per school learning the subjects in Bahasa Melayu.
He also noted that the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) had raised similar concern over the issue and asked the Education Ministry to explain such changes.
“For instance, if you already have 14 classes, and suddenly you need to add one more BM class, who will want to go?
“If there are issues, who will iron it out?
“So, I do not see any justification to make it stricter for such conditions,” he said while debating the 2024 Supply Bill for the Education Ministry at the committee stage yesterday.
In response, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said there were no changes on the DLP guidelines and requirements as claimed.
She said that similar guidelines have been implemented since the programme was introduced without changes.
“The guidelines remained the same until today, we never changed it. For schools that have 100% implemented the programme this year, they may continue to do so, we have no problem with that,” she said during the winding up speech.
Fadhlina also said that non-DLP classes were still important as the ministry found that there were schools that did not satisfy the ministry’s requirements to implement the programme.
“The government is committed to empowering the national language, which is why non-DLP classes are still very important,” she said.
She also reassured that there are other English language empowerment programmes underway that would be able to help students have better command of the language.
“DLP is just one of the programmes, there will be more approaches that will be implemented,” she said in response to former Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin (PN-Putrajaya).
During the debate, Radzi said he had received several complaints from parents in Kuala Lumpur who claimed that schools had backtracked on their decision allowing students to study subjects under DLP.
He called for the ministry to explain its stand over the implementation of the programme, which some parents found confusing.
The DLP, which was announced in Budget 2016, allows selected schools to teach Mathematics and Science in English.
On a separate matter, Fadhlina said that her ministry would always prioritise resolving teacher shortage issues.
“We’re committed to filling up the vacancies. This issue would always have our attention,” she said.
Fadhlina also said that all types of schools, which include vernacular schools, have been facing this issue.
The minister had a brief exchange with Dr Wee when the latter was trying to ask supplementary questions.
“I need to put an end to the questions from the Honourable (MPs) because I don’t want more polemics linked to this issue be brought up.
“I have given my word that we will solve it,” she said, rejecting the Ayer Itam MP’s request to interject.
When debating Budget 2024, Dr Wee had urged the government to conduct an urgent roundtable discussion to discuss the way forward involving the issue of teacher shortages in vernacular schools.
He said he viewed the matter seriously as there were some inconsistencies in the data given by the Education Ministry from month to month.