- Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is the government out of its mind?

Upon hearing the news that from 2012 onwards "the medium of instruction for Maths and Science will revert to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools and mother-tongue languages in national-type schools" (Math and Science back to Bahasa, mother tongues, The Star), I am immensely saddened.

The choice of teaching Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) in 2003 on its own without any consideration about the capabilities of teachers in Malaysia was good. Because that way, students are being linguistically unified with the competitive world with regards to the advancements of Science and Mathematics. However, considering the capabilities of teachers, this plan isn't really an ideal plan for the betterment of education in Malaysia.

Okay, so through a few graphs provided by the Star that showed students from rural areas aren't doing so well in the two subjects in English, the government used this as a supporting detail to why the PPSMI should be abolished, that the two subjects should not be taught in English.

“The gap between rural and urban students has widened since PPSMI started. Only 19.2% of secondary teachers and 9.96% of primary teachers were sufficiently proficient in English,” Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Now, I have to question: If the teachers had so terrible command of English, why didn't the government equip them with the necessary skills? No wonder the students in wherever it may be didn't do well! No wonder the graphs and scales show that students aren't performing well in English as opposed to Bahasa Malaysia.

If the teachers in all their professionalism were not equipped with the proper command of English in the first place, why did the government start PPSMI? Now results show that it isn't working, why is the government scrapping it instead of seeing it through and equipping their teachers with proper command of English?

But before we continue, we have to also ask why aren't teachers who graduate from local universities aren't equipped with necessary linguistic skills. Is it because their lecturers aren't equipped too? Then who is at fault now?

"On efforts to emphasise the learning of English, the number of English teachers would be increased by 13,933 -- retirees would be hired, as well as foreigners if need be." (Math and Science back to Bahasa, mother tongues, The Star)

The government should already know the terrible English lecturers and teachers have in schools today. By establishing PPSMI, they increase the percentage of students failing, and confusing the lecturers more. Great. Then right now, they revert the entire education system again, causing one generation of students who had to go through the change and who had to be "white rats" suffer -- all for nothing!

If the lecturers in universities cannot teach proper English, how can the students a.k.a. teachers be good in their language skills? The government should know about the incapabilities of the lecturers and teachers in Malaysia, which clearly shows the negligence of the Education Minsiter and his department, and long ago, it should have brought in foreigners with strong English foundation and equip our bloody lecturers and teachers to have proper command of English instead of waiting until the abolishment of PPSMI is done and a realization of the terribleness of English in Malaysia!

This change is only a revertion to what the education system in Malaysia originally was. Students in general were already complacent with their limited knowledge of English, needless to say how 'well' they excel when they go for higher studies. When the change was made, at least students took more effort to learn up English so that they can at least pass in Mathematics and Science. Now that the system is being altered again and reverted to what it originally was, students will again fall back to that mindset -- oh, English, one subject only. Doesn't bother me.

Although I know that there are students from the government school who have rather perfectly sound English, but what is the percentage of students as such? Day in, day out, I meet with students who are struggling to learn how to even speak properly. They are unsure if saying "How have you been" is correct or not, or how to say "How are you" in English; aren't they the majority?

"Muhyiddin also said the lesson duration for English language would also be doubled for lower primary students to 120 minutes a week, while for upper primary it would be increased from 90 minutes to 120 minutes a week. For secondary students, the duration will be increased from 200 minutes to 280 minutes a week." (Government scraps teaching of maths and science in English, The Insider)

How would it help if the lectuers aren't already having proper English for God's sake! Increasing the time would be a wastage of effort. What more, Muhyiddin's statement that English literature and subjects on grammar and composition will be re-introduced will not in any way help! What is the government doing?! Can't they see the problem is not with the syllabus? It's with the teacher's incompetences and incapabilities?

For those home schoolers, do you know how teachers teach literature? They copy notes from a book printed by -- say, Kasturi or whatever publisher -- and ask students to go back and memorize! At least this is what all my students who are in secondary schools tell me. How on earth will students understand? How, then, does the government plan to re-introduce literature and grammar?

I have so much disappointment with this change until I don't know how to verbalize my disappointment. To those who don't understand why, it's okay. Perhaps it would help if you are constantly in touch with the education line, because you meet with students who want to learn but struggle so hard to learn how to speak and use proper simple English.

Another sound argument about this matter: Science and Maths to be Taught in BM Again

HAIH~~~

8 comments:

uǝɹnɐl ʎɯɐ said...

Wow. That seems very backwards. :(

Hopefully they will realize their mistake or find other ways to continue to be progressive with English in schools.

Jon Chu said...

Ya man. I do hope so.

Anonymous said...

time to change a new Govt !!!! ????

Anonymous said...

time to change a new Govt !!!! ????

Chev said...

Stupid backwards government. They should consider hiring more learnt people to advice them on such matters. but then again, it's not like they'd listen anyways!

ah^kam_koko' said...

You have made several sound arguments & those of us who have studied overseas or have higher aspirations in education will clearly see how important it is to maintain & sweat at making ETEMS work.

Actually, whatever the government decides, both ways have pros & cons.
Refuting now is perhaps already too late.
The government has decided the path to be taken.

Perhaps the proponents of ETEMS should have made more effort to have their views heard in the media.
They were actually pretty much silent.
It was mostly to opponents that appeared on the media.

As rakyat, what else can we do but comply?

karyabator said...

i think one more problem that contributes to low command of English among Malaysians is because of the exam-oriented culture. As an English teacher, i was advised by my seniors to focus my teaching on writing and reading only. Why? because speaking and listening are not tested. Honestly, our curriculum is good, but we don't have the teacher who can really understand how to implement it; But i do not blame them 100%. How to implement the curriculum when the influence of exam is stronger than holistic learning?

karyabator said...

i think one more problem that contributes to low command of English among Malaysians is because of the exam-oriented culture. As an English teacher, i was advised by my seniors to focus my teaching on writing and reading only. Why? because speaking and listening are not tested. Honestly, our curriculum is good, but we don't have the teacher who can really understand how to implement it; But i do not blame them 100%. How to implement the curriculum when the influence of exam is stronger than holistic learning?