• Low Han Shaun, The Malaysian Insight

Tamil school’s dual-language legal limbo

A SCHOOL in Petaling Jaya will suspend its dual-language programme just a few days before the start of the academic year, pending a legal battle by parents against the DLP.

S. Balachandran, spokesman for 40 parents of SJK (T) Vivekananda, said the Education Ministry issued a circular to parents on December 20 informing them of the suspension of DLP in 2018.

“There is also another circular by the headmaster of the school on December 22 saying the DLP is scrapped indefinitely… we are confused as to whether the DLP is scrapped or suspended,” he said at a press conference at a hotel in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

The DLP was introduced by the ministry as part of Wave 2 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB) where schools teach Mathematics and Science in English.

Unlike the previous policy – Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) – DLP is strictly voluntary.

“So SJK (T) Vivekananda’s DLP started in 2017 for standard one and four pupils. Since next year’s DLP is stopped, we were told only the 2018 standard two and five pupils will continue the DLP,” Balachandran said.

The suit was filed in June after some parents feared DLP will diminish the learning of Tamil, he said.

“That is why they want to scrap the DLP entirely.”

The case will be heard next year although no date has been set yet. At the moment, the DLP suspension only affects that school.

Balachandran said since the DLP implementation, pupil enrolment has increased.

“In 2017, the school had 120 standard one pupils compared with 2016 that had 60.

“How I know this figure is because one class has a maximum of 30 pupils. This year, they have four classes.”

Balachandran added that he and a few other parents had gone to the Selangor state education department (under the ministry) on Wednesday to voice their frustrations.

“However, the officer told us that since it is a legal case now, their hands are tied.”

Despite the suspension of DLP, parents are still sending their children to the school instead of moving to another school with DLP.

“I want my son to not only learn English, but also learn Tamil and Indian culture. That is why I’m sending him to a Tamil school,” said G. Kalaiselvi, 34, whose son is going to standard two next year.

Another parent, R. Susthrah, said: “I not only want my daughter to speak well but also have better communication skills. In a Tamil school, my daughter can learn English and Tamil together. Which parent wouldn’t want that?”

Susthrah’s daughter starts standard one next year.

“Contrary to what the parents who opposed DLP are saying, we don’t want to diminish the learning of Tamil or forget our culture. Some science or math terms, however, should not be in Malay or Tamil,” said S. Shamala, 32, who is sending her son and daughter to the school.

The Malaysian Insight is still waiting for a reply from the ministry as to whether this legal battle will affect DLP’s full implementation nationwide.

When it commenced last year, only 300 day schools held DLP classes. That number has since grown by four times. As of June, 629 secondary and 585 primary schools offer DLP classes, or about 10% of schools nationwide.

Sarawak has the most number of DLP schools at 187, followed by Perak (161), Selangor (147), Negri Sembilan (98), and Kelantan (95).

The Malaysian Insight

Related:

Parents want Dual Language Programme retained in PJ Tamil school, FMT

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