Monday, September 19, 2011

Correct Time For PPSMI..

I just got back from Thailand. I was there for three days on invitation by the Education Department of the Province of Satun, Southern Thailand.
There was a three day Academic Exhibition involving all the border states of Southern Thailand, namely Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla and host - Satun. The Malaysian states of Perlis and Kedah were invited to present two cultural dances for two nights. Perlis was also invited to take part in the "English Story Telling" contest, which later turned out to be a "guest appearance" by the Perlis student - Amir Aiman Abu Bakar.
this student speaks good English.
I had the opportunity to meet education officials and teachers and of course exchange ideas and information on our education system. In Thailand, there are primary schools (year 1 to year 6), lower secondary schools (year 7 to year 9), schools until lower secondary (year 1 to year 9), secondary schools (year 7 to year 11), high schools (year 10 to year 12). There are also special schools to cater students for special fields - sports, music, etc, etc...
*Primary schools are bilingual (subjects taught in English and Thai).
What impressed me most is that Thailand is presently very particular about the English language... They are sending students and teachers to Australia and New Zealand in batches for attachment programmes, for a period of time. They have this programme called SMEP (Science Maths English Programme) - similar to our PPSMI (Teaching and Learning Science and Maths in English) - carried out since 2006, three years after we started our PPSMI.
The SMEP is carried out in certain chosen schools and is for certain group of students. It is done in high schools, starting from year 10 until they finish university. That means SMEP is done for 6 years (3 years in high school and 3 years in university) at least.
Another point to note is that after year 9, students going to high schools have to take a foreign language. They can choose French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or even Bahasa Melayu. You can see that Thailand have a pool of interpreters...
young Thai students with good English in them..
Back to this SMEP/PPSMI programme. Thailand is on the move. Malaysia started earlier but due to some stupid politicians holding education portfolios, the programme was terminated in 2009.
It doesn't end there. The standard of English among Thai students is slowly picking up... I had the opportunity to mingle around young graduate teachers and they are able to speak well in English.. Even the students that I met during the exhibition could speak good English. But, as usual, Thais are very humble.. They look upon us, Malaysians, as better in English.. I'm sure they are on par with us, or maybe they have overtaken us in some aspects... Watch out, Malaysians !!!! Our fresh graduates are NOT that good!!!!

I came across this article in the Star today:

Time to act on PPSMI

I am very happy that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has decided to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) together with other dacronian laws, after listening to the rakyat.
It does not matter who wants to claim credit for this announcement on the eve of Malaysia Day but rest assured, the public is pleased that the PM is listening and walking the talk.
It takes great courage and political will to make this decision knowing full well that the Government’s power to arrest and detain troublemakers will be curtailed.
Although the ISA is being considered to be dropped, there should be enough room for the police to act if trouble erupts.
By loosening the tight grip of the law, the Prime Minister has done the right thing to ensure that the rakyat is given more freedom in this modern and fast-paced world.
The rakyat should be allowed the freedom of speech and to gather peacefully without sacrificing the stability of the country.
We need strict rules but being a democratic nation, there needs to be some balance between enforcing the law and giving the rakyat a chance to voice their opinions.
With constructive criticism, the Government will be able to get ideas and perform better.
It is not always that those in power or those elected to the august House are more wiser than the man in the street.
Some politicians only know how to play to the gallery and are not bothered about the welfare of the nation.
They are only interested in power and will do anything to get elected, even if it means they are doing an injustice to the system.
This brings me to another issue that the Prime Minister has to look into – the continuation of the PPSMI.
Survey after survey, as well as many letters-to-the-editor, suggest that the PPSMI should be retained.
This matter not only has the support of the urban folk but also by people across the board, as shown by a Malay NGO recently.
Even Tun Dr Mahathir’s blog had a massive and resounding response for the PPSMI to remain.
With so much support from the rakyat, I hope the Prime Minister will take the daring step to continue with the PPSMI.
The decision might make him unpopular among some but for the sake of his people and the nation as a whole, he has to show the political will and this will silence some of his critics.
In this borderless world, we need to take drastic measures to ensure that we are on track to be a developed nation with the people equally equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete with the best.
With all the infrastructure and modern amenities we have, we are sometimes seen more as a developed country than a developing one.
To sustain this momentum, we should make the English language as a priority.
We should not regard learning English as a setback to our own national language.
In fact, it is the language of the world and our future leaders should be well-versed in it.
Take our past prime ministers and also Datuk Seri Najib.
They are all fluent in English and can communicate with other world leaders.
They do not need interpreters.
Our leaders, past and present, are competent at English and this makes it easier for them in carrying out their duties.
At all times, the national language has not and will not be compromised.
The national language is our pride, but acquiring the English language is an advantage.
Mr Prime Minister, please do something so that our future generations will not be deprived of acquiring more knowledge and thus stagnating the growth of our nation. English is important, there is no question about it.

Wish you all the best, Malaysia... 
Have a nice day.. 

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