The Implosion of DLP
The Minister of Education needs to be reminded of the importance of the optional Dual
Language Programme (DLP), how and why it was conceived. Ministers and director-generals
come and go. But parents stay.
It was in early 2015 that the Economic Council, chaired by the then prime minister,
demanded a radical approach towards enhancing English proficiency, having witnessed the
damaging effects on youth towards employment. Immediately, the Education and SRI
(Strategic Reform Initiatives) Human Capital Development of PEMANDU (Performance
Measurement and Delivery Unit) under the Prime Minister’s Office, now corporatized, was
assigned to explore and recommend that desperately needed radical approach.
An English syndicated lab was set up and close to 100 stakeholders were invited to
participate in finding that radical angle. High-ranking officials from the Ministry of Education
(MOE), state education departments, district education offices, industry players including
representatives from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, Malaysian Employers
Federation, the British Council, the corporate sector, heads of colleges, university
professors, associations, societies, think-tanks, scholarship foundations, non-governmental
organisations and advocacy groups such as PAGE rigorously engaged for four solid weeks,
brainstormed and armed with massive amounts of data, ideas were consolidated into a
workable, concise and workable plan.
On 11 June 2015, the then Director-General of Education in announcing the DLP to the
public, aptly called it “a defining moment” in the history of the MOE. The criteria set were
clear that schools have written permission from parents, teachers are ready and schools
have adequate resources. There was no Bahasa Melayu (BM) requirement whatsoever.
It has come to our knowledge that principals have been made to turn existing DLP classes
overnight into non DLP ones just weeks into the new term disrupting students’ mental
health and parents’ peace of mind. Parents of these affected schools are forced to accept
non DLP classes even though they are unanimous in their stance.
Parents are not necessarily given consent letters to fill as required while students are
subjected to discreet BM assessments, if at all, to determine whether the child is suitable
for DLP or otherwise. Oddly, parents have been told that if the child’s BM proficiency is poor
then the child will be put in a non DLP class. On the other hand, if the child’s BM proficiency
is above average then the child will be put in a DLP class. The perceived risk is that if the
child’s BM proficiency is poor at six years old the likelihood of failing BM at SPM when the
child is 17 is high. It surely is mind-boggling.
Dignified parents who want DLP for their children are running around like headless chickens
as principals and school leaders prevent them from seeking external help. The Minister of
Education nor her ministry has failed to respond to parents’ concerns and appeals maybe
hoping parents will tire and go away.
We also understand that the fully residential schools which fall under MOE may share the
same fate save for the 11 premier ones such as Malay College Kuala Kangsar and Tunku
There appears to be a nefarious attempt by unseen hands to reduce the number of DLP
classes. This is not a legacy any one should want to leave behind. Instead the MOE should be
developing further the DLP to align with the government’s aspirations to ensure that the
labour workforce is future-ready to accept the so-called high-value and skilled job
opportunities that the Prime Minister has promised all Malaysians.
We urge the Prime Minister to intervene in ensuring DLP is given the full support it
deserves. Abolish the BM requirement, which was added at the last minute to appease the
language nationalists, automatically halving the number of schools that can choose DLP.
Abandon the BM assessment and stop labelling children who are after all only six years of
age. It is not a zero sum game.