Parents who enrolled their children in the Vivekananda Tamil school here for the Dual Language Programme (DLP) have appealed to the education ministry to relook its decision to suspend the programme there.
The parents had expressed concern following a circular from the education ministry received by the school administration on Dec 20 which called for the programme to be suspended due to a lawsuit that was filed earlier by dissatisfied parents who were against the continuation of the DLP.
One of the parents, Vijay Eswara, said he learnt that on Dec 22, an internal circular was issued by the school administration saying that the DLP would be scrapped in the school from 2018.
“The circular has yet to be distributed to the parents, but I found out through my ’contacts’.
“If this is true, we believe the school should notify us and discuss with us as students who are looking forward to continuing their classes under the DLP programme will be stuck.
“This is unfair to parents who will be starting their children, who are in Year One next year, on the DLP.
“They should be given ample time to decide if they want to apply for a transfer out of the school if the DLP is to be removed.
“School will reopen in a week’s time (Jan 2). What are the parents going to do when they find out?” he said when met by the press.
Vijay and his wife, Logavalli Balakhrisnan, had chosen to send their child to the Vivekananda Tamil school because of the DLP.
“My husband wanted to send our daughter to a Tamil school and my condition to him was that the school must have the DLP.
“We found Vivekananda Tamil school and I am very happy to say that my daughter has been enjoying herself at school under the DLP.
“She has been doing well in all her subjects, whether they are Mathematics and Science, that are taught in English, or her other subjects, that are taught in the Tamil language.
“She has been coping well,” Logavalli said.
Logavalli said the lawsuit filed earlier was by parents worried that the DLP would affect the school’s identity as a Tamil school.
“I don’t believe that it is happening. In fact, many of the top scorers in the school are students under the DLP.
“The school intake for Year One students has increased since the school started implementing the DLP this year.
“The school used to have only two classes for Year One. Now, they have four, with three of them DLP classes.
“From discussions among parents, I got to know that some of the parents are already transferring their children out of the school after hearing that the education ministry intends to suspend the DLP at the school.
“Don’t you think it is very sad for the school?”
Logavalli said she knew of a top scorer in the school who was enrolled under the DLP but was now seeking a transfer.
“Because of some parents who had come to their own conclusions about the DLP, without even understanding it further, the school has lost a headmistress. Now, it will see more students leaving if the DLP is stopped.
“They are suspending the programme for Year One and Year Four students. The Year Two and Year Five students will continue with DLP.
“However, by right, under the SOP (standard operating procedure), once a school has begun implementing the DLP, it is not allowed to discontinue the programme.
“We really hope the education ministry will review its decision to suspend the DLP next year,” she said.
Logavalli, who teaches in a secondary school, said the DLP helped students to progress better as they entered into secondary school.
“I have taught students who came from Tamil schools. They simply could not cope once they entered secondary school.
“I had a student who did very well in primary school but when she came to secondary school, her grades dropped badly. That is something that I don’t want to happen to my daughter,” she said.
Logavalli said the previous headmistress, who was supportive of DLP, was transferred after the lawsuit was filed.
Balachandran Sreedharan, whose child is in Year Four, said he decided to enrol his child into a Tamil school because he wanted his child to adopt the Tamil culture and traditions.
“The teaching is different, because there are values along with culture that are conveyed to students. That is something that I want my child to have.
“I never went to a Tamil school, but I want my child to have that experience that I never had,” he said.
Earlier in May, the Vivekananda school’s board of governors and parent-teacher association, together with a body called Child Information, Learning and Development Centre (CHILD), had jointly issued a letter of demand to the school to scrap the DLP.
K Arumugam, a trustee of CHILD, had claimed that the school had earlier been served a letter on March 31 to suspend the DLP as its implementation was defective and did not comply with the guidelines issued by the education ministry.
Arumugam had then said that if the school failed to respond to the notice within seven days, the group would file for a judicial review in the High Court.
DLP was allowed to be implemented in Chinese and Tamil schools in the peninsula last year after the government abolished the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English programme.
Arumugam said the ministry’s guidelines specifically stated that the DLP must satisfy certain criteria, which included consent from parents in the school.
He said the school must also have competent teachers, adequate resources and the Bahasa Malaysia standard of that school must be higher or equal to the national average.
He alleged that the former headmistress selectively implemented DLP despite objections from the board of governors and the parents-teacher association.
Prime Minister Najib Razak had in October 2015 announced that 300 schools would be involved in the DLP pilot project which gave schools the option to teach Science and Mathematics in English.
Parents were also given the freedom whether to enrol their children in the programme.
In January, Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan said more than 1,200 schools nationwide had implemented the programme after meeting the conditions set by the education ministry.-FMT