Both writers profess that the international school system in Malaysia is the way forward for national schools.
The first, Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Ibrahim, contends that the renowned Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) was a model school of the past era and known for producing political, economic and academic leaders in the government and corporate sectors. He also contends that MCKK should be elevated to an international school and that its brand name be exported.
The second, Ikram Iskandar Abd Rahim who is also an old boy of MCKK, reminisces on the glorious days of education in Malaysia when students of all races in national schools could immerse themselves in a culture of team-building and teamwork all for the glory of their schools, as is encouraged in international schools. Additionally, he rightly emphasises that education in those days was more holistic in its approach to educate students to be all-rounders.
However, the salient point highlighted by both writers is that the English medium of instruction in international schools is what sets them apart from national schools.
Unquestionably, a good command of the English language is key to Malaysia’s competitive edge in this borderless world.
Currently, lack of proficiency in this language is worrying and it is one of the reasons behind the high unemployment rate of graduates in this country. And the issue of unemployability would persist as long as the situation of poor English proficiency remains unresolved among students, especially those from the rural areas.
The Education Ministry has given the option to Malaysian schools to adopt the Dual Language Programme (DLP) but, sadly, not many have opted for it. Some quarters even believe the status of Bahasa Malaysia would be jeopardised by the DLP.
The DLP, which seeks to increase the exposure time of English language in the classroom, was introduced so that pupils could be educated according to the wishes of their parents.
Perhaps the Education Ministry for a start should allow premier schools in the country, such as MCKK, Clifford, ACS, Victoria Institution, and Methodists Boys School, to introduce English-medium of instruction so that they are at least on par with the international schools. Hopefully, these premier schools will set the pace for other schools to convert to international-type schools.
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