Kuala Lumpur, 12 October 2016 – The government’s announcement that 76 Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (SMJK) will be joining the Dual Language Programme (DLP) is a positive development that must be applauded.  This is a choice made by parents and teachers. Organisations like the United School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) should not oppose it.  
 
IDEAS congratulates the Ministry of Education for their steadfast commitment and support to parents and schools which have decided to join the DLP. With at least eight hundred and forty schools expected to implement the DLP next year, this initiative continues to be a powerful example of how choice can shape the educational landscape in the country.  The inclusion of more vernacular schools is a positive sign, showing that parents are making conscious choices to ensure that their children are getting good quality education.
 
“The DLP is bottom-up policy where parents themselves are able to vote on whether their child’s school gets DLP or opt out altogether. Strengthening our children’s proficiency in the English language by increasing usage hours outside the classroom is key to ensure that they are able to cope and adapt to an increasingly competitive world.  The fact that more SMJKs will be joining the DLP programme means that parents in vernacular schools too want to exercise their right to choose and this is a great development,” stressed Wan Saiful Wan Jan, IDEAS Chief Executive Officer.
 
“I note that last week Dong Zong said they oppose the DLP.  This is irrational.  They have a right to defend Chinese schools because the right of parents to choose the type of education for their children must be defended by all.  But Dong Zong must understand that vernacular school is only relevant if they exist on the basis of voluntary choice by parents.  So if parents voluntarily choose to go to vernacular schools, parents must also have the right to choose to join the DLP within a vernacular school system.  If Dong Zong opposes parental choice, then what right do they have to say that parents must be given a choice for vernacular schools?  
 
“This is why Dong Zong needs to change their strategy.  Their rationale to defend vernacular schools should really be based on competition to provide the best possible quality education. They need to make a moral argument on the national stage that all parents, regardless of race and religion, have the right and the responsibility to demand and choose the best type of education for their children. If parents want to send their children to a vernacular school, or if they want to join the DLP, Dong Zong should champion this right.  They should not be stuck with the old mindset of championing parochial interests. It is time to move on from that narrow paradigm.” 
 
“The DLP is powerful and a game changer for our children’s future. It will increase competitiveness among schools as parents decide on where to send their kids to school. Competition between schools who provide DLP and those who don’t is a good thing. We should stand together with our students, parents and the government to ensure that a better future for our children continues to be possible,” Wan Saiful concluded. 
 
 
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For media enquiries:  T: +603 6201 8896/ 8897 E: wansaiful@ideas.org.my

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