LATELY there are a lot of calls for the reintroduction of English-medium schools to improve students’ command of English as a communication and knowledge tool.
The rich and famous have been sending their children to international schools where the English language is the medium of instruction.
It would be wonderful to know how many ministers, deputy ministers and top civil servants send their children to national schools.
Those who go to English schools and foreign universities have an advantage in seeking employment.
Many well-to-do parents are sending their children to international schools.
Parents, as the major stakeholders in the education of their children, can decide on the school of their choice for their children.
Parents, Parent-Teacher Associations and Parents Action Group For Education (PAGE) have been calling for English-medium schools.
There seems to be a strong case for the reintroduction of English medium schools.
English medium schools are the answer to arresting the declining standards of the English language in the country. English medium schools have been in existence prior to the 1970s.
Today our education system has national and national-type schools that cater for children whose mother tongue is Malay, Chinese or Tamil.
However there is a growing minority of Malaysians of diverse ethnic backgrounds whose mother tongue or first language is English.
These are the children of the 1960s and 1970s era whose parents were schooled in English-medium schools.
Many of the people of this era regard English language as their first language and communicate to their children in the English language.
And it is these minority groups that have not been catered for under the present education system.
These children are proficient and competent in the English language because the language is widely spoken in the home by the parents.
Many of these children are put in the national schools and have difficulty understanding the language of instruction.
Disadvantaged by the language of instruction, some children drop out of school.
Some parents have lost confidence in national schools because the standards are not up to mark.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see some parents sending their children to private and international schools which use English as a medium of instruction.
Though these schools are expensive, they are booming in business and are mushrooming in the country, especially in the Klang Valley.
Some parents in Johor Baru are sending their children to schools in Singapore.
For a start, the Government can utilise the services of the foreign English language teachers from Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States who are based in selected schools nationwide to monitor English-medium schools.
The decision to reinstate English medium schools should rest on the vision, mission and development of the future workforce and nation in preparation for the global age.
People schooled in the 1960s and 1970s speak and write English well compared with those schooled in the present education system.
It would be wise to bring back English-medium schools. Otherwise we end up teaching the English language in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese or the Tamil language.