Malaysia

Education Ministry answers Dong Zong’s queries

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – The National Education Blueprint 2013-2015 does not intend to sideline any vernacular schools which exist in this country, said Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud, today.

Abd Ghafar emphasised that the Education Ministry will ensure that every government and government assisted school received access, equity and quality education.

“The existence of National Type Schools (SJK) is also enshrined in the Education Act 1996 (Section 28) and further strengthened in the Blueprint (Chapter 7, pages 7 - 16),” he said in a statement, here today.

The statement was issued in response to a memorandum from the United Chinese Schools Committees Association of Malaysia or better known as Dong Zong, querying the status of Chinese education.

A total of 20 Dong Zong, led by its chairman Dr Yap Sin Tian, had presented the memorandum to Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, on Sept 26.

Abd Ghafar said the government had no intention of changing the status or features of national-type schools and that even the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister had mentioned that Malaysia had the edge from various legacies, being the only country, outside of China, to have national-type Chinese schools.

Abd Ghafar also said it was not accurate to say that additional time given to Bahasa Malaysia, to 570 minutes a week, may jeopardise their mother tongue.

He said the additional time was only for students in rehabilitation classes at SJKC who were weak in the language, who were only about 30 per cent of the students.

“The Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) has been implemented in stages since 2011 beginning with Year 1. In 2014, this 2011 Year 1 cohort will be in Year 4 (Level 2 KSSR).

“The increase in Bahasa Malaysia learning time for the Level 1 SJKC is from 270 to 300 minutes, while for Level 2, from 180 to 270 minutes,” he said.

However, he said, the differences should be seen in the context of two systems, namely the time allocated for level two, which were 180 minutes for KBSR and 270 minutes for KSSR.

He said the longer period of up to five hours a week or 300 minutes allocated for remedial classes was only compulsory for SJKC students who required them.

Hence, the time increase allocated to Bahasa Malaysia for Year 4 to Year 6 was actually from 180 to 270 minutes, he explained.

“The length of time is increased by one hour a day with the aim of improving Bahasa Malaysia proficiency among students who have not attained the minimum proficiency from Years 4 to Year 6 in SJKC and SJKT.

“The ministry feels that it’s better for students who have not mastered the language to be identified at an early stage in Years 4, 5 and 6.

“The availability of remedial classes for an hour each day for those who have not attained the minimum level of proficiency, will help them master the language before they complete primary schooling,” he said.

At the same time, he said, the government admitted that the mother tongue was important and thus encouraged the people to master Bahasa Malaysia, English and their own mother tongue.

Abd Ghafar also explained the rationale for Year 4 to Year 6 SJKC pupils to follow the same syllabus as national schools.

“It is aimed at enabling SJK pupils to master Bahasa Malaysia faster before they enter secondary schools where Bahasa Malaysia is the main medium of instruction,” he said.

He added that this would also ease their transition to secondary schools and prevent them from dropping out. – Bernama

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