Among the major setbacks was that it did not favour school-leavers and university graduates who were poor in English to secure jobs in the private sector, multinational companies and even government-linked companies.
Local graduates, who are largely taught in Bahasa Malaysia, lag behind their counterparts, who secure their degrees from overseas universities that teach in English.
Local graduates, who are largely taught in BM, lag behind their counterparts who secure their degrees from overseas universities that teach in English for obvious reasons.
Though many local graduates are absorbed by the public sector as administrative or professional and specialist officers, there are many more who fail to get any job, and unemployed graduates now number a few thousand and the number is increasing.
Government employees harbour a wish to join the private sector as jobs there suit their qualification better, especially those doing engineering, technology, telecommunications, science and accountancy.
But they are unable to do so due to their poor command of English. The private sector also offers higher salary and perks, better opportunities for advancement and better exposure.
Some, after a few years in the private sector, are snapped up by huge international companies and offered jobs overseas as expatriate staff, earning a lot more.
This includes people in education, such as school and college teachers and university lecturers. Some get offers to join organisations, such as the United Nations, and many other international bodies.
Graduates with a good command of English can at least compete with the rest of the world for jobs or do business anywhere in the world as English is recognised as the business and commercial language of the world.
It is most heartening to note that the Sarawak government has demanded autonomy in education to ensure its policies are in tandem with the state’s future requirements.
Inconsistencies in the federal education policies have hampered the state’s current development plan.
They are fed up with the constant changes made to the national education which is not helping anyone and, as such, feel that they have to chart their own course in education.
The previous education minister had pledged numerous promises every now and then, but only a few of the pledges were delivered.
The chief minister had said, “We have plans for the state, but we must strengthen our education policy. We can’t afford to have flip-flop policies every now and then”.
Other states may do the same as Sarawak in the near future. If that happens, that will be a win-win thing for all.
The government, in particular the Education Ministry, must look at this change positively, and should consider and think of a better education policy that can place English and Bahasa Malaysia side by side with equal importance and emphasis.
The reasons are very clear and the benefit would go to all the young people who need to be provided with better quality education which they are entitled to.
This will also be good for the country’s development and long-term future.