Parents question DLP selection criteria in school

Muhammas Zahazan, 16 (0183180172) looking at some Dual Language Programme (DLP) book in local bookstore. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Dual Language Programme (DLP) is in the limelight again. This time, it has to do with allegations of a school straying from the programme’s guidelines.

It is alleged that Year One pupils at a school in Kuala Lumpur were required to undergo an assessment to qualify for a DLP class.

This is despite the Education Ministry (MOE) stating on Feb 14 that no such assessments should be used to determine pupils’ eligibility for DLP classes.

The assessment, according to a parent, was conducted using a “buku transisi” (transition book) – which is mean to aid pupils with the transition from homeschooling or kindergarten into Year One education.

The parent, who only wanted to be known as Lia*, said the assessment evaluated a student’s mastery in “Tulisan” (writing), “Lisan” (oral) and “Bacaan” (reading) in four subjects – Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics and Science – which resulted in the bottom 30 pupils, including her child, being denied admission into the programme.

Lia said she, along with other affected parents, were not informed that there would be an assessment that would affect the placement of a pupil in DLP.

Each parent, she added, had submitted an appeal letter to the school to have their children moved into the programme.

She also said that the school’s headmistress wanted “proof” that the child is proficient in Malay included with the appeal.

“We as parents feel as though we’re hitting a brick wall despite our efforts to obtain some form of clarity on the matter.

“Even the school’s headmistress is not helping us find a solution because she claims the school is simply following the ministry’s instructions. It is frustrating not just for us but our children as well,” she said.

Being “forced” to learn in a language they do not prefer, said Lia, will reduce pupils’ motivation and self-esteem.

A father, Steve*, said parents are supposed to be given the freedom whether to enrol their children in DLP or not.

He said most of the parents felt “stuck” as they are not able to transfer their children into another DLP school or consider an international school due to location issues and financial constraints.

Parent Action Group for Education (Page) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the assessments ignore the right of a parent to choose the best education for their children, further contradicting the spirit of the DLP.

She added that some parents are unaware that assessments should not be carried out and that Page “firmly believes” that unnecessary assessments on children should not take place.

“The ministry needs to review the requirement of a compulsory opening of a non-DLP class in schools and also respect the choice of a parent,” she said when contacted.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said the assessments were “outrageous” and questioned the ministry in denying the rights of a parent and child.

“Instead of simplifying and strengthening DLP, adding unnecessary complications only causes more people to shy away from national schools,” he said.

Currently, to qualify for DLP, schools must fulfil criteria set by the ministry that include having enough resources, a plan to ensure the programme is sustainable, parents’ consent, and meeting the minimum Malay proficiency requirement.

The latest requirement for its implementation, according to a circular released by the MOE on March 19, revealed that full DLP schools must include a mandatory non-DLP class as part of the criteria to hold the DLP.

The Star has reached out to the Education Ministry for comment.

*Names have been changed

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