(Penang, Tuesday): The Cabinet tomorrow should decide whether the proposal by the Deputy
Education Minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Samsuddin for the introduction of the
world’s first quadri-lingual education system with Malaysian students learning
four languages - English, Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and
Tamil – is a serious government proposition for serious consideration and
debate by Malaysians.
Aziz, who made this proposal in an interview with Nanyang
Siang Pau yesterday, said this is the “ideal situation” in a
multi-racial country like Malaysia, as it will encourage interaction and enhance
social integration among students of various races.
Calling for public feedback, Aziz suggested that
the quadri-lingual education system be introduced in primary schools to be
followed by the secondary level.
He believed that the obstacles facing such a
proposal like the shortage of classroom hours and insufficient school facilities
could be resolved once there is national consensus on the issue.
Malaysians must have reacted most warily to the
quadri-lingual education system proposed by Aziz for at least three
The frequent chop-and-change in education policy
without proper study or consultation. For
instance, the proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in
primary and secondary schools was never considered in the 10-year Education
Development Blueprint 2001-2010 which was approved by the Cabinet in June last
The absence of a proper and thoroughgoing
process to seek national consensus
on the use of English to teach mathematics and science although there is
national agreement on the need to raise English proficiency in schools and
universities, raising the question as to whether the government really welcomes
and accept public input, participation and consultation as an important process
of education policy decision-making.
At present, although some 700,000 pupils in Chinese
and Tamil primary schools underto tri-lingual education from Std. III, the over
two million pupils in national primary schools undergo bi-lingual education.
Will support that they now undergo a quadri-lingual education be
construed as imposing unreasonable burdens on the students to retard their
The Cabinet should give a clear indication whether
Aziz’s proposition for a quadri-lingual education is to be taken seriously, to
be discussed professionally from the educational and other standpoints – and
that there would be no subsequent allegations of disloyalty and being
unpatriotic for those who partake in the debate, whatever the position adopted?