Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PPSMI - Let Parents Decide..

Good leaders have visions. On the contrary, bad leaders like to spoil those visions.
Malaysia once had an excellent leader who is still around. Dr. Mahathir Mohammad once led Malaysia to a status which everyone envied. His thinking was, and still is, years ahead of other leaders of the world. Malaysia was well recognized by whatever he did. He had this vision of making Malaysia a well-developed nation by the year 2020.
But once he stepped down as the Prime Minister of Malaysia to give way to the younger generations, things began to go upside down. His immediate successor just did the opposite. Malaysia went 5 years backwards. It went down as the worst part of Malaysian history. The present Prime Minister have a lot to do in terms of developing Malaysia to achieve the 2020 vision that Dr Mahathir had initiated.

One of the vision that Dr Mahathir had was education - the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English, acronym PPSMI. It was started in 2003. He could see the importance of the two subjects to be taught in English because the future generations of Malaysian students need to be exposed at an early stage. No one complained in 2003, not openly though. It was a brilliant idea that other countries like Thailand and most 3rd world countries followed suit, some with modifications. Thailand, for example, started her SMEP (Science Maths English Programme) in 2007, just like the PPSMI..., and it's still on.

Malaysia, on the other hand, abolished the PPSMI in 2009,  in stages it seems.. By next year, 2012, the PPSMI will be fully abolished. While other countries are taking steps to educate children in English, Malaysia is again moving backwards. I fail to see the logic here... Parents are complaining. Surveys were done. Everyone knows the importance of education, particularly Science and Mathematics. And of course, the English language itself... But all fall into deaf ears - ears of the politicians who are leading the Malaysian education system.
It is wise not to involve politics in education, but these politicians are policy makers of the country. Policy must be based on the relevance of the subject, not on personal thinking. In a country that practices  democracy, the voice of the majority of the people must be heard. Surveys done showed that at least 66% of the public wanted the PPSMI to be continued, but then the policy makers still won't listen. So, it is not democracy at all...

Now, parents want an option. Let their children choose which medium of instruction should they go to school. The government must then get ready two types of school - the Malay Medium school and the English Medium school. It's not that difficult because we once had those schools in the 60's and 70's. We had English schools like King Edward VII (KE VII) in Taiping, Victoria Institution (VI) in KL, Penang Free School in Penang and Derma English School (DES) in Kangar. These schools have produced great leaders and scholars.
Let's go global.. Let's accomplish Dr. Mahathir's vision of making Malaysia a fully developed country in the year 2020. Let's have the English Medium back in our education system. Give the rakyat a choice to help develop the nation. Let's have a people's government. Let the voice of the majority be heard... Let's have the PPSMI back...

Jane Lee of Seremban agrees with me:

Wednesday September 28, 2011, The Star.

English medium schools can be set up quickly

IT amuses me that more than three years after I wrote a letter titled “Let parents decide” to a local daily, the issue is still being debated.
When my letter was published, I was roundly criticised by fellow writers, but today it seems what I advocated is in favour. My proposal was to have a fourth choice of schools – the English-medium school.
This would solve logistics problems like having two sets of teachers, timetables and teaching materials, as would have to be the case if a school were to have PPSMI and non-PPSMI to please those for and against PPSMI.
Full immersion can take place as everything that happens in the school (except BM classes, of course) will be conducted in English – assemblies, sports, co-curricular activities – just like in the old days.
There will not be a situation of teachers lacking proficiency in English being forced to teach in this language if they are also given a choice to transfer to schools that use the language they are most comfortable with.
If there is at least one such school within a 5km radius, parents would be soothed. An exisiting school can be converted into an English-medium school so there would be minimal cost involved.
Those serving the school, from the principal to the general workers, should preferably be English speaking.
If the authorities are truly concerned about the decline in English language proficiency, they should do the necessary paperwork and amendments to make the radical change.
Since English-medium schools in the past had proven to be effective in producing fluent speakers of English, why wait any longer? We are wasting precious time and gambling with the future of our children. Who knows better than parents what they want for their children? Why not heed their cry?

Have a nice day...

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