Our children need English-medium schools

I pity the present generation who are the product of the present education system where the majority struggle to master the English language.

By Hassan Talib (The Star)

I MET a senior government officer friend of mine in Putrajaya recently, and I asked about his children. He told me his eldest studied at an international school. His son has since graduated and is now working with Petronas.

I asked what was the difference between his son and those who studied at the sekolah kebangsaan. As expected, he said there was a vast difference. He discovered to his happiness that his son:

> has high self esteem;

> is very confident of himself;

> likes to read;

> has wide general knowledge;

> is articulate;

> has strong leadership qualities; and,

> has an excellent command of written and oral English.

He is very lucky. The majority of Malaysians can’t afford to send their children to an international school.

In the 50s, 60s and early 70s, children from poor families, including myself, were able to study in English-medium schools. Going to an English-medium school has benefited me tremendously.

I pity the present generation who are the product of the present education system where the majority struggle to master the English language.

As a result, they are unable to read materials in English, such as newspapers, not to mention serious scholarly works or light novels.

Since they are handicapped in English they depend very much on the Government for employment, as English is not widely used in government departments.

I don’t understand why the Government cannot re-introduce English-medium schools while retaining vernacular schools.

The rakyat should be given the option of which school they want their children to study in. Going to an English-medium school doesn’t mean we are less nationalistic or may lose our ability to speak Bahasa Malaysia.

I don’t see any problem re-introducing English-medium schools beside political repercussions for some politicians. But these politicians must not think of themselves only. They must think of the future generations.

If we talk of a caring government, then the present government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak must have the political will to re-introduce English-medium schools beginning from primary one.

It will take about 15 years before we can see the first English-speaking students and compare them with sekolah kebangsaan students.

Malaysia is a multi-racial country and our history is different from Japan, France, Russia and Germany.

Indonesian graduates have problems marketing themselves overseas for lack of English compared with graduates from the Indian-subcontinent, where English is used as a medium of instruction.

If Najib wants to be remembered as one of Malaysia’s great prime ministers then he should reintroduce English-medium schools so that children of all poor Malaysians can benefit.


Gombak, Selangor.