Govt says English-medium schools violates Constitution

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 4 – The Federal Constitution and the National Education Act does not allow for any English-medium schools in the country, including in Sarawak, the Education Ministry said today.

Dr Maszlee Malik, Education Minister

MalaysiaKini reported that the ministry had stated this in a written parliamentary reply to former minister Nancy Shukri, who is Batang Sadong MP.

Nancy had asked for the ministry’s stance on Sarawak schools using English as the medium of instruction.

In its response, the Education Ministry said it was against the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools because it violates Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act 1963/67, and also contravenes the letter and spirit of the Education Act 1996.

“Therefore, to preserve and honour the supremacy of the constitution and the law, the ministry does not suggest that English be used as the medium of instruction in schools, including schools in Sarawak.

“Raising the standards of English among students can be done from time to time through other methods that are in line with the law and present education policies,” the ministry said in its reply.

Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that Bahasa Malaysia is the national language.

Meanwhile, Section 17 of the National Education Act 1996, states that Bahasa Malaysia must be the main medium of instruction in schools except in national-type schools, where the national language must be taught as a compulsory subject.

Prior to the general election last May, the Barisan Nasional had in its election manifesto, promised to introduce English-medium schools as pilot projects in Sabah and Sarawak, if it retained federal power.