THE major education review in this period was the Rahman Talib Report in 1961, which was incorporated into the Education Act of 1961.
The report called for all publicly financed secondary schools to only use either Malay or English as the medium of instruction.
While Malay-medium secondary schools were free, English-medium secondary schools required tuition fees.
Both English and Malay were required in examinations to enter secondary schools as well as for post-secondary education.
The Chinese and Tamil languages were to be taught as separate subjects if required, and remove classes were introduced for students who were entering secondary schools from vernacular primary schools.
Chinese secondary schools meanwhile, had to change to either Malay or English as the medium of instruction, or risk losing public financial assistance.
By the mid-1960s, then Education Minister Abdul Rahman Ya’akub initiated a programme to convert the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia. The race riots of May 13, 1969 further accelerated this idea.
In July 1969, as Malaysians were still coming to terms with the events of May 13, the Education Minister announced that English would cease to be the medium of instruction in any school from 1970 onwards.
It has been said that the language policy was the most controversial aspect of education policy post-1969, as Malay-language nationalists pushed for the greater usage of Bahasa Malaysia while non-Malay language proponents reacted by campaigning for the retention of their mother-tongue languages and their respective vernacular education.
The STAR Online Education Sunday June 2, 2013