• The Star

Chong: We must keep an open mind over reintroducing English-medium govt schools

More open and calm discussions must be held first before reintroducing English-medium government schools, says Datuk Chong Sin Woon.

The Deputy Education Minister pointed out that parents who sought English-medium schools wanted the standard improved.

However, the Government, he said, had implemented measures to improve the standard of English among students.

A roadmap had been put in place to improve and enhance students' English with the Dual Language Programme (DLP) and the new Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), Chong said.

CEFR is a guide developed by the Council of Europe to gauge foreign language proficiency.

Beginning next year, preschoolers, Year One and Two pupils, and Form One and Two students will start off with the curriculum.

The DLP allows selected schools to teach Science and Mathematics in English. It is offered to Year One, Year Two, Year Four and Year Five pupils, and Form One and Form Two students.

Chong said the ministry retrained 40,000 English teachers and this would be improved even further.

Asked on why English-medium schools could no longer be part of the education system, Chong explained that the Education Act 1960 conformed all English-medium schools into national language-medium schools.

“So, under the Act, we only have Chinese and Tamil stream schools. If we want to reintroduce English-medium schools, that will be a major topic to discuss.

“Some people may want English-medium schools but others may not. So, let us be open and discuss this issue,” he said.

A recent survey found that eight out of 10 Johoreans wanted the return of English-medium government schools and a “one school for all concept”.

According to the survey published by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, titled Johor Survey 2017: Views on Identity, Education and the Johor Royal Family, 82% of the respondents supported the move to bring back English-medium schools.

The survey showed that support was strong across all demographic segments, even among Malay and rural respondents.

The study suggested this was because those polled realised Singapore’s graduates were competent in English and internationally employable.

The Star

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