Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bring back the English medium schools!

Aren't we all getting tired of these racist groups, claiming to represent education, culture and religious interests? First, we have these Malay groups fighting narrow, communal interests and making imaginary fears of the community losing its position. Now we have the Chinese educationist group Dong Jiao Zong threatening a nationwide protest if Maths and Science are not taught in Chinese or Bahasa Malaysia.

They have their reasons, some of which are convincing, such as the effectiveness of the teaching methods in schools. Certainly, Chinese schools are tops in Maths and Science. But there has to be a consensus at some point. The Chinese and Malay groups which want to revert to the previous system have claimed that using English has not helped the children improve their language skills. They are right - there should be longer English lessons in school but we should retain using English to teach the two subjects.

In fact, the government should have the political will to bring back the English medium schools. We already have the national and vernacular schools, so why not bring back the English schools that helped forged so many friendships and relationships between people of all races? The English medium schools now exist in the form of private and international schools but why can't the rest of the country enjoy this right? Why should only the children of the rich, including politicians, have the privilege of studying in these schools, where English is the medium of instruction?

The threat by Dong Jiao Zong will certainly strike a chord among sections of the Chinese community, including even the Chinese media, just like the Malay groups. Where would all these protests and threats lead to? And all these groups would claim to represent their respective communities but the fact is that many of us do not share the strong arm tactics of these groups. The political climate is hardly right for such protests. Look, the majority of students who sat for the recent exams preferred to use English to answer the questions, so doesn't that speak volumes of their choices?

The standard of English has gone to the dogs, from schools to the universities, so please stop the rot. Our professors in local universities are using broken English in their writings and lectures. Our diplomats are struggling with their English and it is so bad that Malaysia is no longer asked to help draft statements and communiques. Our teachers are equally bad in English, where many do not know have any idea of grammar.

If there should be any protests, it should be Malaysians protesting against the deteriorating standard of English in schools and universities. Please stop using Japan and South Korea to justify the use of Bahasa Malaysia or Chinese to teach the two subjects. Even in China, there is a great rush to study English. The English medium schools, especially those run by the Christian missionaries, were regarded as "neutral groups" and certainly, many top civil servants and leaders are products of these English medium schools. They were not mono-ethnic for sure. Even though the Christian brothers run these schools, they were never regarded as religious, as many national schools are now. It has turned off many parents for sure, even Muslims.

English is the language of Science, Maths and the Internet. We can talk about heritage, culture and whatever tills the cows come home but as we drag on with our debate and are reluctant to act, our children - whether they are Malay, Chinese or Indian - are wasting their best years away.

There are some politicians who want to project themselves as heroes of their community but check their background. Some have never even studied a single day in a local primary school! They were packed off to England or Australia while we were all in schools. And their children? It's the same privilege. Pack them off to a private or international school.

When will we have the guts to say no to racist groups? When will the moderates speak up louder than them?


Unknown said...

that's a good idea but the most important bring our children to 'one school' where they have chance to know each other much better.

ChengHo said...

Start with Sek Wawasan as mooted by ex PM Mahathir . Add more subject to english in National School and slowly convert National SChool into English medium introduce Romove CLass again in form 1 . Peoples are pragmatic they will again enroll their children to National School . Ensure also the standard of English reach CNN or ALJazera level. Do not teach Malaysialish english accent.
Watch CCTV ( China TV ) they even speak with American accent .

Anonymous said...

'The English medium schools now exist in the form of private and international schools but why can't the rest of the country enjoy this right? Why should only the children of the rich, including politicians, have the privilege of studying in these schools, where English is the medium of instruction?'

I beg to differ. I am not rich, one salary home but yet I send my child to private school. Why? reasons are pretty clear and I don't have to repeat.

Be a stingypoker to everything except education is my motto and yes I stinge on everything except food and education for my child.

Anonymous said...

Someone once wrote:

Vernacular education is to teach our children to live in the traditional cultural context.

Dong Jiao Zong objective is chinese culture, language and heritage. There is nothing wrong. But the dogmatic insistence on the way education is carried place the students in a mental time warp.

This is the 21st century. Something need to be changed in vernacular education. English is a requirement to live in this century.

Anonymous said...

Glad you have noticed that Chinese schools produce quality Math & Science students. Perhaps, it has something to do with their method of teaching. Admittedly, a calculus does stimulate the mind instead of a calculator! Presently, the Chinese school system works, the BM national school system does not. We shall remain stagnant with BM as medium of instruction. Wouldn't it be a shame if we discard a system that works and keep a useless one?

I agree that we should turn the clock back to pre-Mahathir days.

Whatmeworry said...

I agree with you 100%. Hope you will reproduce this article in the Star newspaper as well.

Sad to say, there are chauvinistic Malays as well as Chinese. These characters are morons and they fail to realise that they are more divisive than a unifying factor in our country.

I have said before that the PM should bring back English medium school before he retires in March 2009. There are already the Keb. school, Chinese and Tamil schools. Let the parents decide where they want to enrol their kids and see who does well later on in life.

The govt made a terrible mistake by removing English as a medium of instruction in our schools. The damage is so obvious now. No wonder we also have so called learned lawyers who can't speak proper English. Can you imagine these fresh law graduates crossing swords with senior lawyers like Karpal Singh and gang???

Satria Asia said...

I agree with you 100%! Lets bring back English medium schools so that our kids can have the benefit of greater and easily accessible knowledge and wisdom. There just aren't enough worthy books in BM for our kids to be clever enough. Look at the kids now ... so narrow and blinkered are their outlook.

Anonymous said...

I think you must have been mistaken why the Chinese group put strong protest to use English to teach PRIMARY science & maths,this is because they are worry that this may be the 1st stage of eroding their children's right to learn their mother tongue, eventually lead to closing of vernacular chinese schools in this country!
You are speaking as the person who never go thru chinese primary education, hence do not have appreciation of the 5,000 years old culture & its roots of civilization.
I like some of your articles on political issues, but I certainly strongly disagrees with your opinion on the PRIMARY school chinese education medium of instruction.(likewise with another UM historian Dr.Khoo's comment). Even Singapore ex-PM Lee KY realised his earlier mistake in abolishing chinese Nanyang university 1980s, and himself learnt mandarin in his later years. I think this issuues should leave it to the education experts to debate, not by journalist or other professions.

BlueMoon said...

Bringing back english vernacular school will add problems to already boling issue. The more practical solution is to have one national school as suggested by Dato' Mukhriz. Having BM as well as english as the medium of instruction while promoting mandarin or tamil as second or third language is the answer. The goverment must has courage to implement Mukriz's suggestion, and they must equally be strong to face the threat by creature like Dong Jia Zhong. It will be almost 100% certain that the Malays will retaliate if these racist goofs start littering the streets. The goverment must take this threat seriously before someone is hurt or worst killed. Act now!

Anonymous said...

Hello sir,How good is your Chinese/Mandarin?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong in learning maths, science, history or any other subject in one's mother tongue or the national language.

The problem is the pursuit of such languages was done at the expense of English.

And as a result, Malaysia has lost a huge competitive edge. Will we only act when companies no longer want to invest here because of the erosion of English?

shankar~selina said...

This is the price you pay for nationalism. Bring back the old style schools. ( English medium) When I recently visited Malaysia I was appalled on the usage of the English language by high school kids. When I was schooled in Malaysia in (1955-1969) our standard of education was really top notch.( La Salle ) I can see why the well off are sending their kids to English medium schools.

justicenequality said...

You are right that in China the people and govt are WISE enough to learn ENGLISH because it is the most widely spoken LANGUAGE throughout the world; physically or through the Internet.

Even Vietnam, which previously use to learn French, now are aggressively learning ENGLISH. Mind you, Vietnam has a young population of 84 million compare to Malaysia of only 26 million.

Two generation of Malaysian lost the privilege of continuing the learning of ENGLISH due to the wrong policy of the govt of the day.

Not a day should be lost for the present and future generations.

Anonymous said...

Bluemoon, you are insulting the Malays by suggesting that they are such violent people!

Anonymous said...

Malaysia is a funny country.

Our petrol price is higher than in USA. Are we richer than American?

Our car price is higher than in USA. Are we richer than American?

And we use math and science to teach English, real joke! (Math and Science teachers who has no formal training in teaching English, teach English!!)

For those who are English educated, they can boast that they are able to work in big corporations, but don't they know that Chinese education breed Entrepreneurs/businessmen in SMEs, that help to drive the economy. Without these entrepreneurs, there will be no business for big corporations, and will lead to no jobs for these English educated people.

One of the challenges faced by the Singapore government is they are not able to produce entrepreneurs, except a few like Mr Sim of Creative Technology. Most of their people like to be employee. That perhaps shape by their English education.

Datuk Wong, you mentioned that majority of the students who sat for UPSR chose English to answer their paper, but these students have no choice, most of them are from National and Tamil schools, they have no other choice since they have started their Math and Science in English since their primary one. Without enough information made available to the public, presumably MOE tried to cover the weaknesses of math and science in English, hope you are not just jump to conclusion but probe further before taking it as fact.

Anonymous said...

1. charles said it - the whole point of chinese primary school is living the 5,000 years old culture.

2. DJZ is not willing to make any changes because they do not trust the government and for good reason.

3.As a result chinese school students are held in a hostage situation.

This is lose-lose situation.

Anonymous said...

Most of the freshies from University cannot hold a decent conversation in English. Any they come from national public shool as well as Chinese schools. This is pathetic. They are not confident of the language as well as lacking in general knowledge. Something is very wrong with the curriculum as well as the way they are taught in school. I attribute it largely to incompetent teachers, education officers as well as the Education Ministry. The short sighted politicians have screwed up the lives of our young ones. Any yet they still talk as if they are not to be blamed. There is no accountability and sense of responsibility.

We find our children attending school in the morning like a zombie (learning little) and then off to tuition after official school hours. What a waste of time and most importantly of their childhood. There's little life outside of school and endless tuitions. And they tend to burn out faster because of this.

Solution: Get professionals to revamp the education system and get the politicians out of the myth that they knows best where it comes to educating the future of Malaysia. Employ the best people, not those who cannot find work elsewhere to become teachers. Pay the teachers better and tie their salary to performance. Get our education system back to merit based, both students and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Yep Chun Wai. Hate it that these people and reality are no longer on speaking term

sinnersaint:saintsinner said...

These guys are the MCA read BN morons that have to highlight issues that do not benefit individuals ie pupils.

One wonders why the standard of English slumps over the decades, English is the Lingua Franca of the commerce world, education especially when one goes abroad to further their studies, so, we should ask these custodians, why are they depriving rights of children????????

Would'nt it be good to poll on what children have to say, he he he, i know it sounds silly, but never undermine their ability to comprehend these matters.


Anonymous said...

Right on.
we should bring back eng-medium schools but with more BM for Bangsa Malaysia and proper POL for Tamil and Mandarin.

Ti Lian Ker said...

I support your proposal absolutely. Why can't the moderates walk the middle path. Just because we are moderates, we were closed...I am the last of the English/Malay medium school where Maths and Science were taught in English..i came from a family and a village with zero English exposure..BRING BACK THE ENGLISH MEDIUM SCHOOLS...for more choices..the Malaysian reality..

LIN LIANI said...

Hello, Datuk, you are banana ppl, but please respect our mother tough. Don't you respect your wife who is a Chinese educated?. How you get source from Chinese daily paper? I think you should thank her for telling/translating all about news in Chinese daily paper...don't you?

Anonymous said...


I am with you....all the way.
Bring back the English medium school which, i believe, will solve all this nonsense of melayu-cina-tamil bickerings.

how nice would it be... studying under the same roof again, sharing the same subjects and objectives...

or... is it still a bad idea?

Anonymous said...

Double Dato Wong,

I'm surprised that the ULTRA MALAY NIHILIST ORGANISATION has not asked for your head to roll after this blog post.

Anonymous said...

Mere conversion of national schools to English medium will not improve the national schools. In fact, the standard will DROP significantly - with the poor standard of English among the teachers. This adds to the already problematic issues involving leadership, commitment, quality, etc.

If you don't believe, just challenge the politicians to switch their children out from private or special schools.

Anonymous said...

Prof Khoo Kay Khim has obviously misunderstood the tenets of the Federal Constitution in calling for the Chinese & Indians to compromise on vernacular educaton which is enshrined therein.

He fails to see the larger picture that "the compromise" which he advocates for leads to minorities having to compromise all their rights including that of the right to equality (Article 8, FC) free of discrimination.

Grace KN Wong said...

You are right. I am currently working overseas and was recently invited to review a peer-reviewed paper submitted by reknowned Malaysian lecturers. This paper if accepted will be published in a highly respected international journal, for the eyes of the world.

I was and still am embarassed by the writing and also the progression of thoughts. I cannot believe that the primary author was a head of that department, and being supported by her associates are allowed to nurture future Malaysians. If an academic paper of such importance is of such a standard, the Malaysian universities is destroying the younger generations. Let the blind lead the blind.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh... do you think if there is English medium school again, it will be great school? Do you know who be the teachers and who will be administering the schools?

You might be able to excel in English, but can you excel in Math/Science etc in the new English medium school? I doubt, because you will know who will be operating the schools.


Yee Teong CH'NG said...

I think the idea of bring our children to ONE SCHOOL where they have a chance to know each other much better, should have started when they are still in their childhood. The consequence of not letting these kids mix with each other at the beginning of their childhood, will eventually cause a bigger gap when they have grown up later.

Anonymous said...

Heck, some of them still think that heart is hati...

Anonymous said...

Yes, its really sickening listening to those hypocrites who tried to be a hero to their race or group but sent their own children to study abroad or the elite international school.
I suggest those so called 'heroes' to tell us where did they and their children got their education before they open their mouth.

Anonymous said...

After lapse of 30 years, do you think the teachers under MoE payroll are qualified or able to teach using English as the medium of instruction?

I must say u are dreaming and have failed miserably as a journalist who lost touch with reality.

Are we looking at the moon or the finger that points towards it?

asian-fellow said...

Tiada sebab kukuh untuk sistem persekolahan vernakular dimansuhkan!!!

Menurutnya, ini berikutan prestasi akademik mereka amat memberangsangkan.

Kalau prestasi mereka menurun, cadangan yang dikemukakan oleh Datuk Mukhriz boleh diterima akal.

Tetapi, sekolah vernakular menghasilkan ramai pemimpin dan usahawan berjaya dalam pelbagai bidang, malahan pandai bertutur dalam pelbagai bahasa termasuk bahasa kebangsaan!!!

Walaupun Mukhriz mendakwa ia rasional dengan tujuan menyatukan semua kaum di bawah satu sistem persekolahan namun cadangannya itu boleh membawa kepada perpecahan kaum.

Isu sekolah vernakular sepatutnya tidak disentuh tetapi beliau boleh mengemukakan cadangan lain yang boleh diterima oleh masyarakat berbilang bangsa di negara ini!

Menurutnya, bahasa Tamil dan Cina amat diperlukan dalam urusan eksport dengan negara luar kerana negara China dan India merupakan pemasaran eksport yang besar bagi negara ini.

Sekurang-kurangnya 60 peratus daripada pengeksport di Malaysia Utara ini, hantar ke India dan China dan jika kita tahu bahasa mereka, mereka lebih selesa untuk berunding dengan orang tempatan dan akan membantu lagi meningkatkan prestasi ekonomi Malaysia!!!

Anonymous said...

i strongly support the return of english medium school. if that happen we will be gentlemen again.

Anonymous said...

Why should it be sensitive when somebody puts up a suggestion/notion to have all school system to be put under one system. There is nothing wrong with that. You know what else should be done, offer all subjects that are currently/previous available in vernacular schools in the unified school system. That way, you will also be opening new avenue for our children to learn NOT just english, but tamil, mandarin, etc etc

Why are we being so protective? There is actually nothing wrong with the fact that the medium in national schools are in english or BM (bahasa malaysia, not melayu, thank you very much).

Of course, we can't simply bulldoze our way through and declare english as the next medium of learning too especially for those people who are mentally impaired to the extent of wanting/expecting to have results overnight. Educationist, the education minister, and all who professes their teaching as a profession, should put their heads together and get into action, and quit the blaming game.

That's what we malaysian are very very amicably finger pointers, it's just never our fault, it's the malays, the chinese or even the indians. We are nothing short of making a mockery of ourselves.

And to that fellow who has mentioned that the quality of our education has improved, please back it up with facts. I recalled a blog entry on Mr. Lim Kit Siang on how our education system has failed us again and again.

Read this: