Erna Mahyuni

Erna tweets too much on @ernamh. Angry Sabah native, slave to her dog/cat and blogs at ernamahyuni.com

NOVEMBER 29 — Another day, another chance for parents to clamour for English medium schools.

But we already have those: they’re called swanky private schools and judging from the products of said schools, I’m not sure we’d be better off.

Why then do I not have a problem with vernacular schools? If certain races would rather their children have the chance to learn in their mother tongues, I can see the point of that. 

First off, English isn’t exactly our mother tongue nor do we call it an official language. While other countries dub English films and TV into the local lingua, Malaysians just don’t bother. Too much effort, not enough return or demand and hey, subtitles exist.

English is already taught for 11 years as part of a compulsory curriculum. If 11 years of English isn’t enough, then there is something wrong with how we are teaching it.

The education system is already pretty broken ― the children of the rich can afford tutors or private schools, the not-quite-rich but not-quite-poor pay for cram classes, and the poor? Well.

Is it too much to ask that we truly focus on making education less elitist? Now some would say that scrapping vernacular schools and forcing everyone into the same national school would be the answer.

Newsflash: so many of our national schools are terrible. It’s because we have way too many people without expertise meddling in our schools, or worse, using them as a way of profiting from the various tenders and grants.

We spend a lot on education, we really do. But why do we have so little to show for it? Creating yet another stream is just going to benefit maybe a few, enrich quite a few people (who aren’t children) and cost us even more money.

Until we can stop the wastages and constant formulation of some ridiculous new blueprint, we have no business creating another type of school.

It’s time we look at our kids and actually think about what they need ― and not just the kids with money.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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