English-medium schools in Sabah won’t affect national language

May 4, 2017
Minister in Prime Minister Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan, seen here chatting with pupils from SK Tempasuk 1 in Kota Belud, encourages the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools in Sabah.

The re-introduction of English-medium government schools in Sabah would not affect the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the language to cultivate students’ national identity.

According to senior fellow of NGO, Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (Seeds), Arnold Puyok, countries like the Philippines and Singapore had succeeded in cultivating the people’s national identity even though English was used as the medium of instruction in schools.

“It’s possible for English to be elevated as the medium of instruction in government schools without affecting the use of Bahasa Malaysia, which is the official language of the country,” he said in a statement.

The senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said Seed was fully supportive of the recent call made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

The minister reportedly said that this would help in efforts to improve English language proficiency among students in the Sabah.

English, he said, was once the medium of instruction in Sabah before the state government at the time decided to follow the national education policy.

Abdul Rahman proposed the Education Ministry to implement a pilot project in some primary and secondary schools in urban areas, including Sabah College.

Arnold said Seeds welcomed the call as a positive move toward enhancing Sabah’s human capital and also preparing the state to compete globally in business and the economic sectors.

“While the federal government should be lauded for its efforts in enhancing proficiency among students, allowing the state to make English medium of instruction in government schools will allow Sabah to plan its own human capital development based on the state’s unique history, culture and geographical position,” he said, adding that this was also in line with current initiatives to devolve powers to Sabah.

He said that in the learning domain, students who understand English have a better advantage over those who do not as information both coming from the conventional and modern means is mostly in English.

Drawing from personal experience as a lecturer with 15 years under his belt, Arnold agreed that students who have a good command of the language were better prepared for the job market.

He said English would be the passport for Sabah, which was already globally famous for its tourism industry, to benefit economically from the two billion English speakers from countries where English was an official language. – Daily Express Sabah