No politics in education

THE Education Act 1996 states that as a "general principle pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents".

The Dual Language Programme (DLP) is a programme which allows the learning of STEM subjects in its lingua franca, which is English, and at the same time to enhance proficiency in the English language and was culminated from months of deliberation by diverse apolitical parties including the private sector with the Ministry of Education facilitating the decision.

SJKT Vivekananda Petaling Jaya was declared a DLP school in 2017. However, at the eleventh hour, the ministry had in a letter dated Dec 20, 2017 ordered the Selangor State Education Department to indefinitely postpone the DLP in 2018 for the new intake of Std One and eager Std Four pupils in that school, pending a lawsuit. The department then informed the school principal of the same in a letter dated Dec 26, 2017.

In the meantime, parents had registered their children in Std One and are excitedly awaiting its start, along with those being elevated to Std Four. Together they are looking forward to DLP. But now their hopes are dashed and they are left confused.

The parents of SJKT Vivekananda Petaling Jaya have appealed for the DLP to continue yet the ministry continues to remain unresponsive and insensitive which is contrary to what is provided for in the Act.

We question the logic of this reasoning. Why would a pending lawsuit have the impact of jeopardising the future of six- and nine-year-old children whose parents only want more English language hours in their chosen curriculum? The lawsuit can be long drawn and time is ticking for the children. Until a decision is made the status quo should remain.

The parents could picket, seek an injunction to continue DLP thus maintaining the status quo until the courts decide, initiate a mediation process as an alternative for dispute resolution or sit down and agree on amicable terms.

Once a school is declared of DLP status there should be no turning back unless there is a formal reversal of the programme. Parents want their children to have the best education they can which they see possible in DLP.

The ministry should not at all costs allow personal or political manoeuvres to interfere with the education of our children. Children are not to be made anyone's sacrificial lamb.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia