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The Fenn-Wu report is published Jun 1951

Published in June 1951, the report on Chinese schools and the education of Chinese Malayans, also known as the “Fenn-Wu report”, was presented to the Federal Legislative Council on 11 July 1951.[1]

Earlier in January , two educationists,  William P. Fenn, then associate executive secretary of the board of trustees of a number of institutions of higher learning in China, and  Wu Teh-yao, then an official with the United Nations, were invited by the federal government to conduct a study of Chinese schools in Malaya. The study aimed to make recommendations that would lead to “a greater contribution by Chinese schools in Malaya to the goal of an independent Malayan nation composed of people of many races but having a common loyalty”.[2]

The Fenn-Wu report recommended the promotion of trilingualism in Chinese Malayans, with Malay as the official language, English as the business language, and Chinese as the cultural language;[3] an increase in government subsidies;[4] formation of a committee to look into existing problems in schools;[5] formation of a committee to produce textbooks based on modern pedagogical methods, with Malaya as the focus, while preserving Chinese culture and tradition;[6] establishment of an institution to produce more qualified teachers;[7] and an improvement in the terms of service of Chinese school teachers.[8] Overall, the report supported the idea of constructing a national community that would preserve existing multiculturalism.[9]

The Central Advisory Committee on Education, Federation of Malaya, reviewed both the Fenn-Wu report and the Report on Malay Education in Malaya (1951), also known as the “Barnes report”,[10] and made known their findings  in a publication titled Report on the Barnes Report on Malay Education and the Fenn-Wu Report on Chinese Education on 10 September 1951.[11] This report led to the enactment of the Education Ordinance of 1952, which largely incorporated the Barnes report’s recommendation of a six-year free compulsory education for all children aged six to 12, during which both Malay and English would be taught.[12]

1. Fenn, W., & Wu, T. (1951). Chinese schools and the education of Chinese Malayans: The report of a mission invited by the federation government to study the problem of the education of Chinese in Malaya. Kuala Lumpur: Govt. Press. Call no.: RCLOS 371.979510595 MAL; Dr Fenn and Dr Wu. (1951, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 1.
3. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 33.
4. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 12.
5. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 14; Chinese fears. (1951, July 12). The Singapore Free Press, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 19.
7. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 27.
8. Fenn & Wu, 1951, p. 31.
9. Lee, H. G., & Leo, S. (Eds.) (2007). Language, nation and development in Southeast Asia (p. 127). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 306.44959 LAN.
10. The educational future of Malaya. (1951, September 14). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Malaya. Committee on Malay Education. (1951). Report. Kuala Lumpur: Government Press. Call no.: RCLOS 371.979920595 MAL.
11. Central Advisory Committee on Education. (1951). Report on the Barnes Report on Malay education and the Fenn-Wu Report on Chinese education. Kuala Lumpur: Govt. Press. Call no.: RCLOS 371.979920595 MAL.
12. Free schools are planned for all. (1952, October 9). The Straits Times, p. 1; The national schools. (1952, November 24). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 


The information in this article is valid as at March 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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