NEWS

Malay educationist group challenges constitutionality of vernacular schools

21 Feb 2020, 1:04 am

Updated 2 months ago

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Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia has filed a lawsuit against the government in the High Court in Kota Bharu to challenge the constitutionality of vernacular schools.

The group is seeking a declaration that Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act 1996, which permits the use of Mandarin and Tamil as a medium of instruction in Chinese and Tamil schools respectively, are inconsistent with the Federal Constitution.

In a statement, the lawyer representing the Malay educationist group, Shaharudin Ali, said the lawsuit was filed yesterday evening.

"The court is expected to fix a date for case management soon," Shaharudin said.

Section 17 of Education Act stipulates that the national language shall be the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions in the National Education System, except for national-type schools created under Section 28 or others given an exemption by the education minister.

Section 28 of the same Act allows the education minister to establish both national schools and national-type schools.

This is the third attempt to challenge the existence of the vernacular schools after Pakatan Harapan took power as the federal government.

Previously, Putra vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz mounted a suit against the government to challenge the use of Mandarin and Tamil as a medium of instruction in vernacular schools.

In December 2019, the Association of Peninsular Malaysia Students (GPMS) and the Islamic Educational Development Council (MAPPIM) challenged the existence of Chinese and Tamil national-type schools.

Both groups claimed that vernacular schools may be in conflict with the national language under Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 152(1)(a) states that the national language shall be the Malay language and that no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (except for official purposes) or from teaching or learning any other language.

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