Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Dear Cabinet members, why not have a national referundum to decide once and for all whether the PPSMI should be continued or not

When will our politicians start not to play around with the education of our children, the PPMSI was abolished despite evidence showing that the learning of Maths and Science in English is important in keeping with the explosion of knowledge of Maths and Science in English that far outstripped the ability of any linguist to translate English to Bahasa Melayu. Before I ramble on, just have a read at the latest statement of the Kementerian Pendidikan:

Science & Mathematics: Plan will boost BM, English

MOHD SOLIHAN BADRI, Corporate Communications Unit, Education Ministry

THE Education Ministry would like to refer to the letter by J. Suresh of Kelana Jaya, Selangor ("Science and Maths: Changes must be made now" -- NST, Sept 23).

The cabinet approved the bill to abolish the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) policy on July 8 last year and replaced it with Dasar Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia dan Memperkukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI) -- Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening Command of English policy.

Through this new policy, the teaching and learning of Bahasa Malaysia and English are further enhanced through more diversified and improved teaching approaches.

The government's decision to replace the medium of instruction for the teaching of Mathematics and Science from English to Bahasa Malaysia was made after taking into consideration intellectual debates and expert consultation with stakeholders.

The MBMMBI aims to provide equilibrium towards the mastery and importance of both English and Bahasa Malaysia without compromising on the strengths and importance of both languages to Malaysians.

The decision to reverse the PPSMI policy is also in line with Article 152 of the Malaysian Constitution which ensures the freedom to teach and learn in other languages, including English, Chinese or Tamil.

With this decision, the teaching and learning of English will be further improved to increase students' mastery and competence in the language. Competence in English will enable students to explore various fields of knowledge from extensive resources and motivate them to pursue their education to higher levels.

The abolishment of the PPSMI is a positive move by the government to realign the paradigm of Science and Mathematics education in Malaysia in accordance with the Education Act 1996 (Act 550) which states that:

- The national language is the main medium of instruction in national schools, including for the teaching of Mathematics and Science;

- Chinese is the main medium of instruction in national type Chinese schools, including for the teaching of Mathematics and Science;

- Tamil is the main medium of instruction in national type Tamil schools, including for the teaching of Mathematics and Science; and;

- The national language is the main medium of instruction in national secondary schools, including for the teaching of Mathematics and Science.

The decision to revert to these media of instruction for the teaching of Mathematics and Science in primary and secondary schools in Malaysia is aimed at improving the teaching and learning of scientific and mathematical concepts in schools.

Hence, the MBMMBI policy can provide relevant and effective mechanisms to uphold the national language and at the same time improve English mastery and proficiency among students.

Through their respective languages, students will be able to understand their teachers better and apply the knowledge that they have gained more effectively.

The MBMMBI policy, therefore, will serve as an effective strategy to uphold the national language and at the same time improve proficiency in the English language among students.

Read more here.

Seems the Government based on the decision of the few Malaysians in Cabinet are bent on depriving our young from getting the full spectrum of knowledge in Science and Mathematics in English. Now even  Quoting the Constitution Article 152 and the Education act even. Speaking of Article 152, an enlightened blogger SatD has this to say about whether the Article 152 provides protection for schools whose medium of instruction is in Chinese or Tamil read here and for good measure read also Dr Mahathir's very persuasive argument on the PPSMI read here.

Enough of my ramblings, this is a quick and loaded response from the father mother action group for Malaysia Education PAGE, LISTEN TO THEM lah Bapak-bapak Menteri:

A response to MOE’s defence of abolishing PPSMI —  Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim

October 12, 2010
OCT 12 — The Education Ministry via  Encik Mohd Solihan Badri, Corporate Communications Unit, has posted its arguments in defence of its decision to abolish the policy of teaching and learning Science and Math in English (PPSMI) with the new policy Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the Command of English (MBMMBI), (Science & Mathematics: Plan will boost BM, English, NST October 11, 2010).
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) would like to correct a few misleading and incorrect statements by Encik Mohd Solihan.
In 2008, after the fourth ministerial roundtable discussion under the leadership of the previous Education Minister and the late Arwah Datuk Razali Ismail, and intellectual debates and expert consultation, the general agreement was that PPSMI was a good and beneficial policy and that it would be maintained.
However in 2009, our new Education Minister under pressure from the street demonstrators and without consulting the stakeholders, completely overturned the policy within just three months of taking office, just days prior to the Manik Urai by-elections.
It was clearly a political decision with very weak “intellectual” arguments which PAGE has extensively won over in previous debates and forums.
In May 2010, in reference to a suit by some students against our government to declare PPSMI unconstitutional, our High Court ruled that PPSMIBahasa Kebangsaan 1963/1967”.
The spirit of our Education Act 1996 also mandates that our government takes into account the general principle that students should be educated (in the language) according to the wishes of their parents.
No doubt, the new MBMMBI policy will increase the teaching of the English language from 16 per cent to 21 per cent of teaching time. However, with the removal of Science and Math in English, the overall exposure to the English language will drop from 41 per cent to 21 per cent.  This is a significant drop by half. Any linguist will tell us that it will be a total disaster for our students’ as far as comprehension of the English language is concerned.
Scientific English will also be totally wiped out to be replaced with Scientific Malay which has no commercial or intellectual value in the current competitive knowledge-based economy. We may stand tall against Indonesia which currently is the biggest exporter of maids and cheap labour to our country.
Other than that, God help us.
Comparing English vs Bahasa Melayu, the percentage of knowledge or articles available in the two languages are approximately 99.9 per cent vs 0.1 per cent respectively. We can find a significant number of intelligent and knowledgeable articles in English but the ones in Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Indonesia are mainly from blogs with very little intellectual content.
Muslims believe that the first injunction brought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is “Iqrak” or “Read” to gain knowledge. With the new MBMMBI policy our children’s comprehension of the English language will be extremely limited and their access to the knowledge of the world will also be severely handicapped. This is totally in violation of the principles of the Islamic religion.
PAGE calls upon our leaders to do what is right. Reinstate PPSMI in schools that want it. Ego and saving face of politicians is a small price to pay for the future of our children and our beloved country.
Simply put enough of this arguments, why not have a national  referendum every body should be asked to vote a YES or a NO to continue the PPSMI. This is too important an issue to be decided by a group of politicians some of whom are not even Members of Parliament. It is time that education policy be placed on the hands of Parents rather than politicians who could at this very time send their children to Private Schools learning Maths and Science in English.
One more thing Mr Ministers Sirs just to be clear;
 if you Google "Mathematics" you will get 82 million search results & if you Google "Matematik" you will only get a measly 7.2 million search results.
if you Google "Science" you will get 1.16 Billion search results & if you Google "Sains" you will get a measly 9.8 million search results.
So what does that tells you about how much knowledge our children will be missing in the future?
PPSMI or not, a referendum to find out what Malaysian Parents want for their Children is surely necessary now, forget about the political votes for a while, think about the future of our Children education in this increasingly globalised planet. Bapak Menteri should throw away that ego, we are only human and are bound to make errors in judgement once in a while.

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