The aftermath of PPSMI policy

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First and foremost, I would like to thank YOU for all the kind compliments and words of wisdom I received in the previous article.

Obviously I am very appreciative towards any feedback be it positive of negative. But the sincerity I read within the lines gave me a lot of courage to continue doing what I have done for the past 3 years.

Therefore, again, for the millionth time, Thank you.

This time, I would like to add something about the recent announcement of our government leaders and a recent announcement by EF EPI, an international organsation that had recently measured the English proficiency ranking of non native speaking countries.

Back in 2009, the Government had made their decision to reverse PPSMI and gradually abolish it. Starting from 2012, the subjects on Mathematics and Science in all schools will revert to Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and Tamil in respective schools. By the year 2017 in primary and 2016 in secondary, all children in both primary and secondary will learn all the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, with the exception of the English subject of course.

And, with the exception of children in vernacular schools too.

All children in national schools will learn mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia again, while all children in mandarin and tamil schools will learn those subjects in their respective mother tongues.

That is the outcome of the opposition’s relentless pursuit to oppose anything just for the sake of opposing. I mentioned the opposition because Pakatan Rakyat leaders were involved in the various platforms conducted by the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) which incidentally headed by A. Samad Said, an iconic ‘pejuang bahasa kebangsaan’.

Much is left to be desired when this so called pejuang bahasa kebangsaan stopped short in asking the vernacular schools to switch its medium of teaching language to Bahasa Malaysia. Hence I find it really hypocritical of him when he assumed that GMP will bring dignity to Bahasa Malaysia among Malaysians.

In fact, his foray in politicising the national language will further alienate the races between each other.

I believe the PPSMI would be one of the factor that would attract Malaysia parents to send their children to the national schools. The other main factor is the lessening of Islamic /Arabic influence in the daily routine of activities of the school. But that is another matter altogether.

At that time, if GMP and the Minister in Education said that Bahasa Malaysia has finally and correctly ‘dimartabatkan’, then so be it.

The aftermath of the decision has led to various lobby groups being set up to lobby for the return of PPSMI. The most prominent is called Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE).

The stark contrast between GMP and PAGE is the absence of street demonstrations. We all remember the pretentious street demonstrations organised by GMP and led by several opposition leaders back in early 2009. It was pretentious because Bahasa Malaysia now became the domain of the Malays; not the rest of Malaysians.

Only the Malays should dignify the national language. The non-Malays can continue strengthen their own mother tongue. Only the Malays are chastised if they use English as their main language to converse. Non-Malays can use English with impunity.

Nevermind the fact that Bahasa Malaysia should be used by all Malaysians. GMP forgot to support the one stream education system which suggested the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of learning in most of the subjects.

GMP, if they were serious, should make Bahasa Malaysia the mother tongue of all Malaysians.

To me, it doesn’t make sense to chastise Malays who wanted to learn mathematics and science in English when Bahasa Malaysia is already their mother tongue. Being the mother tongue of approximately 17 million of the population is already a dignified accomplishment of Malaysia. What they should have pursued is the usage of Bahasa Malaysia as the mother tongue of 100% of the population.

Hence the one stream education system is the way to go. But GMP seemed more interested in looking at narrower view i.e., looking only at the Malays and not the overall populace.

That is why they are labeled as pretentious and not serious enough in their battles for Bahasa Malaysia’s survival.

Fortunately and finally, PAGE’s objectives had been heard by the Government. Last week, the Minister of Education, announced the possibility of a dual medium of instruction in schools.

Although the details are sketchy, I believe the MOE will give schools the power to decide which language to teach mathematics and science. The Parent-Teacher Associations of  each school will undoubtedly be given the voting power to decide on this matter.

But what is unclear is whether this will cover vernacular schools as well. Those  powerful vernacular cartels such as Dong Jiao Zong will almost certainly and vehemently defend their racial turf.

We all know a lost cause when we see one. The only way for them to see beyond racial lenses is to have a strong national leader that can make them see the benefits of having one stream national education system.

All things considered, I think this is the best time to propagate PPSMI. In 2009, the MOE made a good decision to limit the number of subjects in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to 10 subjects.

With smaller number of subjects for the students to study, all the excess energy that was used to gain 15As, 18As and even 20As  in the previous years can be channeled into learning mathematics and science in English. Also, extra co curricular activities will automatically be emphasised more by the students as they would certainly want to make their curriculum vitae more marketable than their peers.

Being in sports, clubs, societies and uniformed groups will enhance their social skills and leadership qualities.

Those are a couple of great assets for an aspiring student to venture into the realm of tertiary education and beyond.

The recent survey made by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) listed the ability of good written and spoken English as the main criteria to employ new employees.  Out of ten traits, 68% of employers listed that as the most sought after attribute of a prospective employees.

Good academic results came out 7th at 37.9% while 56.2% of employers valued interpersonal skills as the 3rd most sought after trait.

Bottomline, your paper results will not be nearly as important as your social interactivity skills. And the ability to write a nice business letter and to speak English with confidence top everything else.

You will be a star employee if you can master scientific or business terminologies with ease.

Anyhow, we hope the Ministry of Education will not forget to improve the overall standard of education in our national schools and continue to produce more positive news and good results in order to promote the national education to the masses.

It is enlightening to read about the news that among the non native English speaking country in this world, Malaysia is ranked at 9th position and the 1st among Asian countries with population that has high proficiency in English.

It is ironic to note that Singapore which has Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and Tamil as their official languages  is not considered non native English speaking country anymore. In other words, Singapore is now considered an anglophile state according to international standards.

They do speak good Singaporean English.

But Malaysia, that had laid so much importance towards her national language, can strive to be among the best English speaking country in the world, speaks a lot about our education system.

We want to be global. Yet, we retain our identity as Malaysian.

Orang Malaysia bukan sahaja mesti pandai berbahasa Malaysia tapi mesti pandai berbahasa Inggeris juga. Baru boleh duduk sama rendah, berdiri sama tinggi. Boleh mengharung globalisasi tapi tak hilang jati diri.

Terima kasih. Thank you.

#malaysian-education, #one-school-system, #ppsmi