This will be the last post on education system moving forward in 2020 (at least for the first quarter of this year). By the way, it is still early to say that Dr M taking charge of the Education Ministry is a good thing or not. After all, he already had his hands full as the Prime Minister, running the whole country.
Talking about the education system, I wrote this post almost 10 years ago on teaching Science & Mathematics in English. It did not make any sense then; it does not make any sense now. There were 23 so-called arguments put forward by some NGO back in 2009 and it is in Bahasa Malaysia (note: PPSMI means Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris which loosely translated as Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English).
Why there has been a flip-flop decision to teach Science & Mathematics in English?
Malaysia will revert to using its national language, Bahasa Malaysia, to teach science and math starting in 2012, abandoning a six-year English policy that the government said had failed to improve student grades.
The long-awaited decision, announced Wednesday, came after months of lobbying by Malay nationalists and was largely viewed as a political decision by local commentators.
Malaysia has taught science and math in English since 2003, when former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad implemented the English-language policy in an attempt to help graduates improve their English and employability.
However, the government has found that academic grades in science and math have fallen since English was introduced.
Of course, Dr M knows that the only way that Malaysians going to master Science & Mathematics & compete with others globally is by learning it in English and the reasons for that is just way too obvious.
Dr Mahathir said the Education Ministry is reviewing the implementation of the policy by providing a new teaching system through the use of information technology, where lessons by the best teachers can be utilised in all schools, especially in rural areas, to help students achieve similar results.
“Scientific knowledge is developing constantly and it is not done in Malay. To acquire and master new knowledge, the English language is needed. We will not have translations of new knowledge in Malay, unless there are science experts who can understand both languages and the matter to be translated,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He added that English is a global language that is used within the business community, while fluency in the language leads to employment opportunities.
And why English is important in the first place? There are many reasons out there but the one related to Science and Mathematics would be this reason:-
An estimated 1 billion people worldwide speak English! On top of this, 67 countries have English as their official language and there are 27 countries that have English as their secondary official language.
English Is the Top Language of the Internet
English is the most-used language online, with nearly 1 billion users typing and chatting in the language. If you can understand and read English, you’ll be able to access and enjoy many more resources online.
You can read online news articles. You can leave comments on an English video. You can understand Tweets from English-speaking celebrities. You can participate in a discussion on a forum. The possibilities are endless!
Obviously this is helpful if you’re just using the internet to browse and have fun. But many people and businesses also need to conduct research, market themselves or communicate and develop connections online—English will be crucial for success.
Email is also now a very common way to talk with people all over the world. Email is the primary way for many companies to communicate with customers or other businesses. Being able to write emails or other correspondences in English is another important asset for employers.
But back in 2009, those who against teaching Science & Mathematics in English had a long list of “arguments” to convince others to support the abolishment of teaching these subjects in English and to revert teaching in Bahasa Malaysia instead.
Let’s analyse them again since one day (assuming the Pakatan Harapan Government goes back to the basics and revert the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English), the same arguments may be raised to object.
The Dreadful Excuses
1. PPSMI adalah idea (mantan) Presiden UMNO, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Translated: PPSMI is the idea of the former UMNO President, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
2. Rakyat jelata tidak pernah meminta PPSMI.
Translated: People did not ask teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.
3. PPSMI hanya menguntungkan anak2 yang ibubapanya bertutur bahasa inggeris di rumah.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English is only benefits children where the parents are also speaking English at home
4. PPSMI menguntungkan anak orang kaya2 di bandar.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English only benefits the rich children in the cities.
5. Ibubapa yang tidak bertutur bahasa inggeris tidak dapat menolong pelajaran anak2 mereka di rumah.
Translated: Parents who don’t speak English will not be able to help their children to learn at home.
6. Anak2 keluarga miskin dalam bandar dan di luar bandar menjadi mangsa PPSMI.
Translated: Children of poor families in cities and outside cities will be the victim of teaching of Science and Mathematics in English
7. PPSMI akan menyusahkan anak orang miskin dan orang kampung menjadi saintis, doktor, jurutera, dll.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will prevent children from poor families and villages from becoming scientists, doctors, engineers, etc
8. PPSMI dibuat oleh kerajaan BN tanpa berunding dengan rakyat.
Translated: The decision to teach Science and Mathematics in English was done without the consultation with the people.
9. Guru2 tidak pernah bersetuju dengan PPSMI.
Translated: Even teachers never agreed to teaching of Science and Mathematics in English
10. Cendekiawan dan cerdik pandai melayu tidak pernah dirundingi oleh kerajaan BN sebelum melaksanakan PPMSI.
Translated: The decision to teach Science and Mathematics in English was done without the consultation with the academicians & experts.
11. Kerajaan BN membakul-sampahkan puluhan memorandum yang menentang PPSMI.
Translated: The BN Government disregarded many memorandums against teaching Science and Mathematics in English
12. PPSMI terus dilaksanakan walaupun hasil kajian oleh bijak pandai di universiti mendapati dasar itu gagal.
Translated: The policy to teach Science and Mathematics in English was implemented eventhough experts in local universities found that such policies will not work.
13. Setiap tahun markah lulus peperiksaan diturunkan demi mengaburi mata rakyat.
Translated: Every year the passing mark is lowered to misled the people on the academic achievements
14. PPSMI menguntungkan kontraktor kroni yang membekalkan bahan2 bahasa inggeris.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English only benefits crony contractors who provide the education materials in English
15. Kaum cina pun menentang PPSMI.
Translated: Even the Chinese are against teaching of Science and Mathematics in English
16. Yang menyokong PPSMI adalah segelintir golongan yang mendewa-dewakan bahasa inggeris.
Translated: Only those who worship the English language supports teaching of Science and Mathematics in English
17. PPSMI tidak sah di sisi perlembagaan negara.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English is unconstitutional
18. PPSMI menghina bahasa melayu.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English insults the national language, Bahasa Malaysia
19. PPSMI membunuh masa depan bahasa melayu.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English kills the future of the national language
20. PPSMI gagal mengkayakan negara2 di benua India dan Afrika yang meminjam bahasa inggeris.
Translated: Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English failed to enrich countries in Indian subcontinent and Africa who well verse in English.
21. Semua negara maju di dunia menggunakan bahasa masing2.
Translated: All developed countries use their own national language
22. Semua negara yang meminjam bahasa penjajah semuanya gagal menjadi negara maju dan kaya raya.
Translated: All countries who borrowed language of their colonial masters have failed to be rich and developed.
23. Di mana2 negara pun bahasa penjajah gagal memandaikan rakyatnya yang miskin.
Translated: All countries who borrowed language of their colonial masters have failed to take care of the poor in the country.
The 23 reasons (or rather illogical reasons) for rejecting teaching Science & Mathematics in English back in 2009 although subsequently the Government later decided to teach Science & Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia. This was mainly due to there is a serious lack of teachers well verse in English rather than due to the above 23 dumb reasons.
Whoever came up with the so-called reasons to reject the teaching Science & Mathematics in English seems to have tried to come up with reasons that seemed to be scrapped from the bottom. When assessed correctly, it is clear that most of the reasons put forward to reject the teaching Science & Mathematics in English does not make any sense.
Learning a language depends on the interest, availability and program set by the Ministry.
It does not discriminate between rich & poor. It does not discriminate between those living in big cities and small villages. It does not insult or jeopardise or replace the national language. So it is a dumb argument to say English will take over Bahasa Malaysia. You need to se it from the context of learning Science and Mathematics where the reading materials ALREADY in English.
This is why we need more people in this country to think critically and act rationally.