THE schools have reopened to a brand new year with a bumpy start for the Dual Language Programme (DLP).
As a parent, I am not opposed to teaching Mathematics and Science in English. In fact, in a globalised world this is important as we embrace Industrial Revolution 4.0. I also think Bahasa Malaysia is important and must be given due emphasis in science and technology for this national language to thrive and remain relevant.
In this regard, we must implement the DLP properly and all students must have this opportunity to have mastery in Mathematics and Science in two languages.
DLP in its real sense is not about teaching either in English or Bahasa Malaysia. It is supposed to be an immersion programme which is used elsewhere in the world to enable students to receive instruction in national language or mother tongue (in our case Bahasa Malaysia/Chinese/Tamil) and a target language (in our case English) in the same classroom to develop academic proficiency in Mathematics and Science in both languages beginning from kindergarten.
If DLP is implemented in this proper manner starting from pre-school, it will enable all Malaysian children to be proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia (Chinese/Tamil) and English in Mathematics and Science. Unfortunately, the way DLP is implemented in selected schools in Malaysia (mostly in urban settings) is by segregating students. Just say if a school has five Standard One classes, two classes will be teaching Mathematics and Science fully in English and the remaining three in Bahasa Malaysia. This is not DLP in its real sense. This is discriminatory and unfairly segregating students in the same standard within the same school.
Authorities in the schools selected for the programme say they do not have the capacity and can only offer a subset of classes for the so-called Malaysian version of the DLP.
The lack or capacity and capability to teach in English must be taken seriously. Hence, before rolling out a new programme such as DLP, ensure there are adequate trained teachers. Many of the teachers come from a generation where Mathematics and Science were taught in the national language.
I urge that the DLP is implemented properly as an immersion approach and not as a segregated approach. There are lots of successful models of DLP in other parts of the world, for example in Spain. If DLP is implemented well, students will be exposed to the world of Science and Mathematics in two languages. This will not only strengthen our Malay language in the face of technological developments but also enable all our students to be equally proficient in English.
I fear the rush and lack of soft infrastructure such as adequately trained human resources and improper DLP pedagogy will have a regressive effect on our education system in the long term.
We have to implement DLP in its real sense to ensure both Bahasa Malaysia and English technical competency is enhanced among all our children. As a concerned parent, I feel we must get it right, as policies that are not thought out thoroughly have long-term effects that will be difficult to redress. It is our children’s future, and we cannot risk getting it wrong since it also has a direct impact on nation building in line with our TN50 aspirations.
N. K. ARASU