KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Close to 1,000 protesters demonstrated here today against the Dual Language Programme (DLP), the second such rally since the school policy that allows certain subjects to be taught in English began this year.
Led by Islamist opposition party PAS, the demonstration at Titiwangsa Lake here was co-organised by education groups, including Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) and Gerakan Isu-Isu Pendidikan Kebangsaan (GIPK).
GMP chairman Professor Shaharir Md Zain said the group will continue to protest the policy, claiming the DLP would create a future generation brought up in two separate education streams.
“It will be a big challenge in the future because we will raise two split streams in the next generation. One will be thinking in an English language-based culture, and another thinking in our native language,” he told the crowd here.
“This will give birth to a great clash in the next generation and to me, this government policy is not smart and we must reject it firmly.”
Other notable figures at the rally included national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, along with PAS leaders like deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and vice-president Ustaz Idris Ahmad.
Youth at the rally told Malay Mail Online that they did not reject English, but wanted to defend the use of their mother tongue in their pursuit of knowledge.
Fresh graduate Hanisah Abdul Rahman, 25, said in her opinion, education should be in the language of the people.
“There are many students who have not been able to master English, so how about the government maintain Bahasa Malaysia in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) so that the country can rise with its own identity?” she told Malay Mail Online.
“The people of the country are not clueless, we have the capability to excel.”
University student Mohamad Khairul Anuar, 24, said although DLP gave students the choice of learning science and maths subjects in either English or Malay, the programme still took away the importance of the national language as the main medium of communication in the country.
“Even Unesco says maths and science should be taught in our mother tongues. So why are we not placing our national language at the highest level?” he told Malay Mail Online here.
“We are already learning the English language as a subject, but why is the language being made the medium of other subjects?”
Student Yusof Wahid, 25, saw it as a political issue, saying he heard that the previous Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy, which has been abolished, had been a financial burden that yielded poor results.
“In my opinion, I see the DLP as a shadow of the PPSMI that had failed and cost the country a lot of money,” he said.
“So I am personally rejecting this because it is a possibility that this programme is a means for some to make money from.”
The youth were represented at the rally by Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (Gamis).
The implementation of the DLP since January has seen 296 schools in the country allowing students in Standard 1 and 4 as well as Form 1, to choose between learning science and maths subjects in either Malay or English.
However, echoing the implementation of the PPSMI policy in the past, the DLP is encountering both rejection and praise from education groups.
Several Malay language activists and education groups have rallied against it, claiming it would victimise Malay students, while pro-DLP education groups have defended it in calling the programme a choice.
On March 26, an anti-DLP rally of some 70 people took place in the city centre that had a mock coffin to symbolise their intent to bury the education programme. The protest featured Malay language activists, national laureate Datuk Baharuddin Zainal popularly known as Baha Zain, as well as opposition politicians like PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang.