AFTER World War II, educational opportunities increased with the setting up of more English-medium and Malay-medium schools.
However, there was still a significant urban-rural divide in terms of access to English-medium schools and reports at the time noted a relatively low level of support for Malay-medium schools, especially in rural areas.
The first step taken by the colonial government to establish a national education system was with the Barnes Report in 1951.
The report called for all primary schools to be bilingual, using both English and Bahasa Malaysia, and students would go on to English-medium secondary schools after six years of free primary schooling.
This drew strong opposition from some quarters as it was felt that non-Malay vernacular education was completely sidelined; Chinese educationists endorsed the Fenn-Wu Report, which advocated a trilingual system using Bahasa Melayu, English and Chinese.
As the country geared for Independence, the Razak Report in 1956 sought to lay the foundation for a national education system with nation-building aspirations.
It proposed two types of primary schools based on the main medium of instruction; “standard schools” which used Bahasa Melayu, and “standard-type” schools which used either English, Chinese or Tamil. The report also proposed a new “assimilated national type” secondary school for all with English as the medium of instruction.
Chinese and Tamil vernacular secondary schools that converted to the new model would receive government financial support while the rest would be allowed to continue as private entities with partial government aid.
The STAR Online Education Sunday June 2, 2103