Thursday, July 9, 2009

Maths and Science: When the BN and PR agree

It's very rare for opposing forces in Malaysia to come to an agreement. The exception must be the stand taken by both sides to stop the use of English to teach Maths and Science. The BN and PR component parties have all agreed to revert to Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil to teach these two subjects.
Anwar Ibrahim has put on record his stand. So has Nizar Jamaluddin who even proposed a motion to halt the use of English at the recent PAS general assembly. The Malay nationalists and Dong Jia Zong Chinese educationists also shared same sentiments.

So, it's pretty clear that these political and education groups must know what they are talking about, politically, that is. From my discussions with some of them, the feedback is that teachers, students and parents in rural areas, including new villages, are doing badly, especially in the teaching of Science. Parents are furious that their kids are unable to learn.

Teachers cannot use English fluently, let alone teach the language, while students are completely at a loss. Parents, who do not speak English nor use the language, are not helping either. One Mentri Besar narrated to me of what he saw at a rural school when he made an inspection. Sitting from behind the class, he was horrified that the teacher could not speak the language well but was however competent when BM was used.

So the question is should these classes be stopped because of the language problem? That's the problem affecting our schools, especially in rural areas, after decades of abandoning the use of English as a medium of instruction. We have a new generation of graduates including teachers, doctors and lawyers, who cannot string a proper sentence in correct English, let alone teach. Our diplomats are no longer invited to draft communique or statements because their language skills are an embarrassment.

For that matter, many of our politicians cannot hold themselves in front of an international crowd, let alone impress them. How many of them can speak English like Najib Tun Razak or Khairy Jamaluddin, who are Bristish-trained?

Urbanites are taking a different view. They are aghast and frustrated at the decision. It seems to cut across all races, especially among the middle class. They talk of sending their children to private schools except that the same ruling also applies there. Maths and Science would still be taught in BM, Chinese or Tamil but at least, better English classes can be expected. However, not everyone can send their children to private schools.

The government has promised that there would greater emphasis on the teaching of English as a compromise. We hope the assurance would help but many urban parents feel let down by the government's decision to give way to the Malay and Chinese educationists.


Anonymous said...

Somehow I seems to get this feelings that My Malay...sia will never move forward. How could they,when it is always politically motivated. Do they think of our children's future? This is what we called "Malaysia Boleh"

Whatmeworry said...

Gapena and Dong JZ should be very happy now that the govt had reverse the decision to teach Maths & Science in English. These idiots are a chauvinistic bunch where some of them have had an English education and now they want to deny our kids the opportunity.

If the govt had retained English medium schools, do you think all these Internationa Schools would have come about? Someone connected with the govt is making tons of money operating these International schools. There's a demand for it and not many to go round and also very expensive.

The average Malaysian family with a few kids can't afford to send their children to International Schools.

If the govt wanted votes by reversing the decision made by Dr. M, well, they are not getting it from me. Period!




Ms Lime said...

Now, when the decision was made, why wasn't I surprised at all? Besides political agenda and pressure from groups, I cannot think of what else they were weighing their odds on. Seriously. Students' wellbeing? Ha ha ha.

Reverting back to use BM just because of incompetency in the English language is total BS talk. Now, it'd only get worse. What do you expect? After so many years of teaching, and still teachers couldn't be bothered to improve themselves, what makes the policy makers think that in 2012 they would be ready to teach? Taking us for dungus?

Third world mentality is still very much in our society's blood. Ego and pride are our worse enemies. It's not as if we were abandoning the national language. Just maths and science. The rest of the subjects are still in BM.

Unless Malaysia starts coming up with significant scientific discoveries in our own national language jargon, we better start brushing up on what is most commonly used as a learning tool. Stop staying in that cocoon because it's only about time that ignorance will rot our minds.

Anonymous said...

Our education system has fdallen quite deep, but it seems that it has not hit rock bottom yet. The problem started during MM and Anwar's time when they ditched English for political reasons, despite the fact that both were well educated in English and benefited from it. Now afetr years of damage, it is so difficult to correct the mistake, as we have lost a whole generation of graduates who can conversed well in English. Even until today the politicians (from both BN and PR)are still politicizing the issues rather than doing what is best for the nation. Is there no hope left for this country?

yenyen said...

Mr Wong,
Please do not get confused yourself and confuse the readers. The BN and PR do not agree on this issue. The factions within BN do not agree among themselves and the factions within PR face the same situation. Many are shocked and extremely saddened by the decision to revert to English as a medium of instruction for the two subjects at secondary school level while many are pleased with the decision to use mother tongue to teach the subjects in primary schools. I hope you can make use of your capacity as a media personality to reflect this view effectively. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Let's "reset" the school system to what it was before the government messed it up. Let schools which prefer to teach in English, teach in English. And let the schools which want to teach in BM, teach in BM. Then let the parents decide where to send their kids. Those who want their kids to work with the government, can send their kids to BNM schools. Those who want their kids to work in MNCs or pursue international trade, can send their kids to English medium schools.

Anonymous said...

With all the messing up of our public school system, there is a big business potential for private education. English classes will have a boom time. Private schools with emphasis in English will boom. And of course the higher income families will send their kids there. So the poor families will be trapped and can only send their kids to the messed up public schools. And this time both BN and PR have agreed to mess it up together. If the problem are the teachers who can't teach in English, then don't let them teach. Hire those who can do the job regardless of age, race, religion, gender, or even nationality.

acts1322 said...

The root of the problem is when the govt first changed the teaching of all subjects to Bahasa Malaysia in the 1980s. In retrospect we can see how the fears and predictions of many people in the urban areas then have come true - there would be repercussions and resulting discrepancies in its application and operation in the rural and urban areas. Now the govt is again trying to "solve" the problem (that it created) by one sweep / one stroke of the pen to apply across the board. Doesn't the govt realize the situation in the rural and urban areas are still so different? It is very apparent that our govt has not learnt from its mistakes and our children have to continue to suffer for it.

Yoon Kit said...

When can we have an English vernacular school?

alvin lee said...

Well, English is not the medium of instruction over in Japan, China or Russia but yet the fate of the US's economy is now at their hands.

So, what is the big deal in not using English to teach Maths and Science?

Jack said...

Datuk, please get your facts right! The Chinese educationist fight for mother tongue for math & science in Primary school, not secondary school.

Majority of parents want English in Math & Science in Secondary. MCA & Gerakan are aware of it.

Gangsta said...

So, there are problems with Rural school children and teachers who can't teach in English and because of this, we abandon using English to teach math and science? Because there are problems and challenges with using English to teach math and science, we take the easy way out.. WE ABANDON IT ALL IN THE NAME OF COMPLACENCY AND EASY FOR ALL?

Is this the attitude we want our children to have? The message that we dont set out to conquer our weaknesses and fears are being sent out to all our children. Is this what we want? Are we preparing our children for the world or are we teaching them to bury their head in the sand when there is a problem.

I am not going to be a broken record churning out those well worn tunes of why we must use English to teach Math and Science. All of us know why! All of us at some point or rather have personally experience why.. all the technology, science jargons are in ENGLISH! And because there are problems with rurall children, urban children will have to be dragged down. We are not progressing if that is the case. We are regressing!! For the love of God almighty, Why are we doing just that!?

We will never produce good english teachers if we are going to continue running around this mulbery bush! There will never be good english students graduating..full stop!

It is heartbreakingly sad to know that we have decision makers who are near sighted, who acknowledge the fact that our standard of English has gone so bad that we are embarassed to even open our mouth in an international arena but yet, got no bolas to do anything about such shortcoming! Plainly cannot see or kneel to pressures of fanatics, I really dont know and frankly am too pissed to care anymore.

Anonymous said...

I would want to know how many of our politicians / ministers who agreed with the latest move have children in the public schools ? Decisions are made for the majority of us commoners but when it comes to their own children, why is it that we don't see politician / ministers children in public schools? Why don't STAR conduct a survery to find out how many of such cases we have?

Odette said...

This decision does not solve the problem. If teachers are not able to teach effectively, train or retrain them. Take these concrete steps instead of whinging about it. It is a vicious cycle which will only be perpetuated by the stand taken currently. The low quality of our local grads and their inability to speak confidently and effectively in English is testament to this. Some of us were lucky that we had english speaking parents while studying in Malay in the past. The truth is that one has to face up to the systematic problems and take the bull by the horns. Rise to the challenge rather than be defeated by it!

Anonymous said...

The thinking of our country's leaders are terrible. If the students cannot meet the passing standard in school and universities, they lower the passing grade. So we have graduates who are not qualified. School leavers are still next to being illiterate. And if the teachers cannot raise the level of their English, the government abandon the use of English. What stupid 4th world mentality!! Maybe the government should start failing the kids that won't study. Fail the university students that don't meet the grade. And sack the teachers that cannot teach.

Daddy Parenting Tips said...

My daughter is less than 2 years old and she can understand both English and Japanese, and later will introduce Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese.

I can't see why we cannot take 1 step forward to integrate the BM textbooks few years back with the current English science and maths text books. Its a lot of effort, but why move backward instead of forward. We can allow students to use either English or BM to answer in the exams as long as the maths and science principles are correct.

Some good will surely come out of the dialectics at work between both languages instead of choosing either one. We need new advancements. We need Malaysia Boleh. Not some power struggle between languages.

When will Malaysia advance and not hold on to race and language as stumbling blocks but embrace our differences as advantages?