WE refer to the reports “Bring back English-medium schools” (The Star, Nov 20), “It’s about time, says group” and “Abdul Rahman all for English schools, but wants more feedback” (Nov 21). The people of Johor have finally spoken up in support of their Sultan and Raja Permaisuri for such schools to be reintroduced into the national education system.
Political will does exist to pilot English-medium schools as is evidenced by the desire for a radical approach towards English language proficiency which is stated in Phase Two of the transformational Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025). For a start, the teachers as well as English language teachers in Johor are of high calibre. If the Johor State Education Department is to focus on delivering an English-medium school in every district, this is quite feasible.
To ensure that the Malay language is not relegated, insist that students who enrol in English-medium schools first attain the national average score for Bahasa Melayu. Allow the existence of such schools for the purpose of mainly producing highly skilled English language teachers who are so desperately needed. We have to accept the fact that Malay-medium schools do not produce the best English language teachers. Our past expenditure on the native speaker programmes has been expensive and, although effective, is unsustainable.
Students who finish from these English-medium schools should then be enticed to further their tertiary education in the United Kingdom. Arrangements should be made where these undergraduates live among native speakers or, at best, among second or third generation Muslim families who will surely welcome them into their homes if food is a problem. In this way, immersion is guaranteed.
Return to complete the diploma in education and be contracted to be an English teacher for an agreed period of time. The option to remain longer should be open. The world is your oyster beyond that.
Sabah and Sarawak should replicate with their own home-grown teachers. After all, this has been sought after for some time and will jumpstart the process, if not complete it.
Focus on the states with zero resistance while the other states that have been silent, indifferent or even downright hostile can turn green with envy.
DATIN NOOR AZIMAH ABDUL RAHIM
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE)