By Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
We refer to the FMT report, “Parents want dual language programme retained in PJ Tamil school”, on Dec 29.
The Education Act 1996 states that as a “general principle, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents”.
The Dual Language Programme (DLP) is a programme which allows the learning of STEM subjects in its lingua franca, which is English.
At the same time, it is aimed at enhancing proficiency in the English language.
It was the culmination of months of deliberation by diverse apolitical parties, those in the private sector and the education ministry.
SJKT Vivekananda Petaling Jaya was declared a DLP school in 2017.
However, at the eleventh hour, the education ministry had, in a letter dated Dec 20, ordered the Selangor Education Department to indefinitely postpone the DLP for 2018 pending a lawsuit.
The DLP was for the new intake of Year One and eager Year Four pupils in that school.
The Selangor Education Department then informed the school principal of the decision in a letter dated Dec 26.
In the meantime, parents who had registered their children in Year One were excitedly awaiting its start, along with those being elevated to Year Four.
Together they were looking forward to DLP. But now their hopes are dashed and they are left confused.
The parents of SJK(T) Vivekananda Petaling Jaya have appealed for the DLP to continue, yet the education ministry continues to remain unresponsive and insensitive.
This is contrary to what is provided for in the Act.
We question the logic of this reasoning.
Why would a pending lawsuit have the impact of jeopardising the future of children, aged six and nine, whose parents only want more English language hours in their chosen curriculum?
The lawsuit can be long drawn out and time is ticking for the children.
Until a decision is made, the status quo should be maintained.
The parents can picket or seek an injunction to continue DLP, thus maintaining the status quo until the courts decide.
They can initiate a mediation process as an alternative for dispute resolution or sit down and agree on amicable terms.
Once a school is declared to be worthy of DLP status, there should be no turning back unless there is a formal reversal of the programme.
Parents want their children to have the best education they can, which they see possible with DLP.
The education ministry should not, at all costs, allow personal or political manouevres to interfere with the education of our children.
Children are not to be made anyone’s sacrificial lamb.
* Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim is chairman of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE)
* The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.