Colonial govt to encourage teaching of Chinese in schools
Published on: Saturday, September 04, 2021
By: British North Borneo Herald
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Friday, March 31, 1961

JESSELTON, Thursday – The Government will not only encourage the teaching of Chinese language in our schools but also strengthen and improve the standard of Chinese, Mr Muir, Director of Education, told the members of the Boards of Management and the teachers of three Jesselton Chinese schools last night.

Mr Muir was speaking at a dinner given last night to welcome him back and to bid Mr and Mrs Cheng Kuok Mee farewell for a happy journey to Hong Kong, by the Boards of Management and teachers staffs of the Jesselton Middle School, the Ching Hwa School and the Chung Hwa kindergarten at the Jesselton Hotel. There were over 200 people present at the dinner which was enjoyed by everyone present. Among the guests were Mr Muir, Mr Whelan, Mr and Mrs Cheng Kuok Mee and other officers of the Department.

The Hon. Mr pang Tet Tshung, in welcoming and saying farewell on behalf of the members and teachers, said: “Mr Muir is now back to guide us in endeavor to do our small part in providing education for the future citizens of this country.” He said, “My friends here tonight and I heartily welcome you back on our midst.” He also extended good wishes to Mr and Mrs Cheng and their children to have a very pleasant holiday.

The Director of Education, Mr Muir, said in his reply that he was very glad to be back again after 61/2 months travelling abroad.

Language Policy

Touching on the problem of the language policy in Chinses schools, Mr Muir said:

“I should like to say something about a matter which concerns us all – the language policy in our Chinese schools.

“We are all aware that in Sarawak, consideration is also being given to language policy, but it should not be necessary for me to emphasise that this is Sarawak’s own business just as we here in North Borneo are quite capable of solving our own problems on policy in our own way.

“The first thing I want to say – and to make quite clear – is that we want to ensure that the teaching of the Chinese language in our schools is strengthened and improved. Chinese people want this for their children and we think they are right to want it. We shall not be satisfied until we are sure that the boys and girls leaving our Senior Middle Schools possess a knowledge of the Chinese language of which we have no reason to be ashamed. The Cambridge Examinations Syndicate provides papers both in Chinese Language and in Chinese Literature which should ensure this. These papers are set and marked by Chinese scholars of repute in South East Asia, and I know the Cambridge authorities well enough to assure you that if we are not satisfied with the standards of these papers they will do all in their power to meet our special needs.

Teaching of Kou-Yu

“In the same way, when a good supply of teachers is available, it will be our aim to provide sound teaching of Kou-Yu in our English-medium Secondary Schools.

“Our policy is based on some very straightforward and obvious aims. We have a firm duty to the boys and girls who come our schools to provide them with the most suitable type of education we can, to enable them to pursue their careers when they leave school. We have a duty, too, to the parents, who make great sacrifices to send their children to school and who want to see the, emerge from school with something worthwhile which will enable them to secure employment or to further their studies elsewhere.

“Some of children wish to further their studies in their own language, particularly in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, and this Department has been giving such students both help and encouragement. Others wish to pursue their studies in Western-type universities and colleges, in Australia, the USA and Great Britain. All of them seek eventually to fulfill their careers here in North Borneo, which is their homeland. We have to strive to meet the needs of all of these as best we can.

“We all are agreed that a good knowledge of English is either essential or of great advantage to all of these students in their search for knowledge, or in their careers in commerce, industry or the professions.

“It is therefore out aim to achieve a sound knowledge of Chinese and a sound knowledge of English in our schools, in fact, to help our students to become bilingual. This is not a difficult aim to achieve. In other countries, few children go to school without learning at least two languages.”

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