• Thomas Kok, The Star

DLP issue shows authorities must think on their feet

I REFER to your reports “Head on with the DLP” (Jan 2) and “Dual Language stays” (Jan 5).

It was indeed a dramatic change of events over just a couple of days. The drama seemingly unfolded with a state education department’s announcement posted on social media by “Cikgu Nurul” which stated that the Education Ministry had put the Dual Language Programme (DLP) on hold.

The news spread like wildfire, sending shock waves to all the stakeholders, particularly school administrators and boards of governors, Parent-Teacher Associations, alumni and teachers.

When we got the information via social media, my WhatsApp group of former principals started pointing fingers at the authorities, accusing them of flip-flopping on the DLP.

Thankfully, the Education Ministry has now given the assurance that DLP will continue, and with another 88 new schools approved.

Arguably, having DLP classes should not be an issue because they can only be conducted with the permission of parents.

Had the Education Ministry acted immediately on the so-called Cikgu Nurul’s social media post by issuing a statement to deny it, the hoo-ha would not have occurred, and many stakeholders would not have lost sleep over the matter.

I suppose the lesson we can learn from this unpleasant episode is the importance of communication and public relations.

The Education Ministry’s press secretary ought to play an increasingly prominent role to disseminate news to the public via press conferences, and, if necessary, tweet news directly to the public, among others, to dispel any fake or vague news which frequently captivates people’s attention.

Ideally, the Education Minister and assistant minister should also use Twitter to interact with the public in general and the stakeholders in particular. News consumption habits of Malaysians, especially the younger generation of parents, have changed and they expect instant information from the authorities.

The authorities should be proactive to disseminate important information to the public whether through the printed or electronic media or other media.

At the most basic level, the authorities in carrying out their responsibilities need to plan and act fast to inform the public, specifically the stakeholders who are eager and anxious for information because it affects their daily duties, plans and routines.

In the present day, the right to be informed is the stakeholders’ expectations. Therefore, the authorities should take a proactive or pre-emptive role in disseminating information without the stakeholders having to ask for it.

The Star

Related:

Get DLP on the right track, The Star

Retain programme for the children’s sake, The Star

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