HC Deb 18 February 1929 vol 225 cc759-60
11. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are taken to secure education for the children of Indian labourers in Malaya and Ceylon and, in particular, are there any facilities for learning English?


In the Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States, Johore and Kedah, the labour codes empower the authorities to insist on the provision of schools on estates where there are a sufficient number of labourers' children. At the end of 1927 such schools were being maintained on nearly 500 estates. In addition the ordinary facilities provided by schools maintained or aided by the Government are open to the children of Indian labourers. These include English schools in British Malaya, at which there were about 5,500 Indian children at the end of 1927.

As regards Ceylon, the law makes a similar provision for estate schools for the children of labourers working on estates. At the end of 1927 the total number of these schools registered was 304, with an attendance of 32,300. So far as I know, only vernacular education is provided in estate schools, but there are many facilities in both Government and aided schools in Ceylon for children to acquire a knowledge of English where their parents desire it. In regard to the general question of English and vernacular education for the different racial groups in Ceylon and Malaya I would refer the right hon. Member to the sections on education in my recent Report, Cmd. 3235.


Is the Under-Secretary satisfied that the conditions for the education of these children in Ceylon are as good as those in Malaya, and that the development of education on English lines in Ceylon is up to the standard recently set in Malaya?


Yes, I think so. As a matter of fact, there is great similarity between English education in Ceylon and English education in Malaya. Both have the same virtues and also the same weaknesses. It is a very broad question and difficult to deal with in answer to a question. Undoubtedly, there is room for great improvement in quality in some English schools both in Malaya and in Ceylon.