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  • PAGE Malaysia

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

Kurshiah College.

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.




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