Sarawak To Uphold Education Autonomy & Use English In Secondary Schools

The state no longer requires approval from Putrajaya to implement any educational activities or development projects.

Cover image via The Borneo Post & Syarafid Abd Samad/New Straits Times

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The Sarawak state government is taking steps to solidify the agreed devolution of education autonomy through regulations and statutes, such as using English as the medium of instruction in secondary schools

Sarawak Education, Innovation, and Talent Development Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee highlighted that the use of English as the medium of instruction in state secondary schools was a crucial outcome of negotiations with the federal Education Ministry, reported The Star.

"We are allowed to extend the use of English as a medium of instruction, not only in primary schools but also in secondary schools in Additional Mathematics, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry," he said at the Sarawak state assembly sitting yesterday, 9 May.

Currently, primary schools in Sarawak use English to teach Science and Mathematics under the state's dual language programme.

English and Bahasa Melayu are both official languages in Sarawak. The state is not bound by the National Language Act 1963/1967, which mandates the use of Bahasa Melayu for official purposes.

Sarawak Education, Innovation, and Talent Development Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee.

Image via The Borneo Post via Malay Mail

Annuar also added that the state education director now has the authority to approve any educational activities and development projects

"In other words, the approval does not have to go through Putrajaya anymore.

"This will improve the process and facilitate the implementation of the projects, as previously, many rural transformation projects and minor rural projects slowed down because of bureaucracy," he said.

Annuar revealed that following negotiations with the federal government, the state government secured provisions allowing for greater involvement in school project planning, assessment of dual language programmes, and increased funding for teacher development programmes, according to The Borneo Post.

"What's more important is now the state government is allowed to share or to access the data within the Education Ministry, crucial for implementing data-driven projects successfully.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Education Ministry for their friendly, cordial, and accommodating approach in our negotiation for more devolution of power to the state government," said the state deputy minister.

According to the New Straits Times, the Sarawak government is currently documenting 15 items related to the implementation of education autonomy in Sarawak, all of which have been agreed upon.

Annuar described the 15 items as "comprehensive", explaining that the negotiation with the Education Ministry is part of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63).

On a separate matter, Annuar had on 6 September last year come to the rescue of a woman who was having breathing difficulties on a flight:

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