The debate over school languages has been one of the most controversial in Malaysia. To be sure, the issue is so divisive that no real debate takes place at all. In the meantime, the young suffer.
In Malaysia today, people are feeling more divided than ever before – by race, religion, political leanings, location, class… and proficiency in English.
The powers that be have at best been only half-hearted in encouraging the learning of English among schoolchildren. The latter learn it only as a subject; and they are not required to obtain even a pass at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations. And now they are not required to learn Science and Mathematics in English any more – because, we are told, many students, especially those in the rural areas, find it difficult to cope with the language.
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