Cabinet should decide whether Aziz’s proposal for a quadri-lingual education system is a serious government  proposition for serious consideration and debate by Malaysians

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(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  reasons:

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 year.

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 educational advancement?

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?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman