Conversion of English-medium schools

Letter to the Editor by DAP Organising Secretary, Lim Kit Siang, on28 March 2969:

The Editor,
Straits Times,
Balai Berita,
31 Jalan Riong,
Kuala Lumpur.

Dear Sir,

I refer to your report today on my speech at a Penang DAP public rally deploring the Alliance government’s move to convert the present English-medium schools into Malay-medium schools.

I shall be grateful if you could publish the following facts and arguments I presented at the rally on this subject, so that my speech will not be misrepresented and misunderstood.

Beginning this year, Standard Three children in English-media primary schools are taught four subject in the National Language – art and craft, physical education, local studies and singing.

Next year, Standard Four students will be taught history and geography in the National Language, and in 1971, Standard Five students will learn the science an mathematics subjects in the National Language.

This means that by 1971, there will be no more English-media primary schools, as they will have all become Malay schools.
There are about 300,000 young Malaysians n English-media primary schools who will suffer badly from this conversion of English-media school into Malay schools.

This is because the majority of the teachers in primary schools, estimated by my teacher friends to exceed 80 per cent, are not qualified to teach their subjects in the National language.

Products of English-media schools themselves, and trained to teach in the English language, these teachers will become unqualified teachers if required to teach in the National Language. They know their subjects, but they will not be able to communicate their knowledge in the National Language. The Ministry of Education has also not made any plans to prepare and train these teachers to teach their subjects in the National Language.

This is why I warned that such a mass conversion of English-media schools into Malay schools by 1971 must lead to a serious lowering of education standards of the 300,000 students affected.

Already, under the present education system, we are producing students who after six years of education are hardly literate. If teachers are rendered unqualified because of the change in language of instruction, our education system will produce more and more half=baked and semi-literate products.

This is a matter of grave importance, which should concern all parents and educators.