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Friday, October 21, 2011

Latest.... on PPSMI.

PPSMI to go ON

Dual language for Science, Maths still allowed

THE subjects of Science and Mathematics, except for Year One, can be taught in English or Bahasa Malaysia based on the capability of each school, said the Education Ministry.
Its deputy minister Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi said the teaching and learning process as well as official examinations could still be conducted in both languages for those in the Teaching of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) cohort.
“However, following the soft approach of the Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening the Command of English (MBMMBI) policy, the bilingual option will be removed gradually and will be replaced with Bahasa Malaysia only,” he told Che Uda Che Nik (PAS-Sik).
Che Uda had asked the ministry to state whether dual language options would still be available during national examinations.
Dr Puad said the process was only applicable to the PPSMI cohort beginning from last year.
“This is to help teachers and student to adapt with the transition and to reduce any teaching and learning problems,” he added.
He also noted that Science and Mathematics subjects for Year One in the 2011 cohort had begun to be taught in Bahasa Malaysia in line with the Curriculum Standard for Primary School (KSSR).
.... The Star news.

Student warns of dismal future without PPSMI

Stephanie Sta Maria, Free Malaysia Today,October 21, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR: The volley of brickbats against the abolishment of the Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) has intensified with just one more month left in the school year. After nine years of implementation, the PPSMI will be replaced with the latest policy of upholding the Malay language and strengthening the command of English (MBMMBI).
The policy reversal has received strong protests mainly from NGOs, particularly the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE), but now even students are boldly raising their voices.
Just last week a Form Three student penned an open letter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, asking them to reconsider the PPSMI abolishment.
And now a university student has issued a dire warning to the Education Ministry – the failure of Malaysians to master the vital disciplines in English will plunge the nation into the same realm of disconnectedness as North Korea.
In a letter to PAGE, the student, who goes by the pseudonym of Nate Light, pointed out that international collaborations are conducted in English for viable communication among different nationalities.
“A scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would never understand a physics research paper and mathematical lemmas written in Malay,” Light said. “A tech start-up in Malaysia will not gain traction in English-speaking foreign markets.”
“In a globalised world, there is simply no demand for professionals who don’t speak English. The outside world will turn to other countries that provide English-fluent professionals and leave us unattended.”
Light scoffed at the “absurdity” of translating scientific texts into Bahasa Malaysia (BM) only to later translate them back into English when used.
Greatest drawback
The student also questioned the accuracy in translating terms like “inertia”, “gravitational potential” and “quantum entanglement” into BM, and predicted that students would now be embattled with language barriers in their studies.
Of greater importance, Light noted, is that fluency in English is a pre-requisite for entry into the best research institutions in the world like MIT and Caltech, both of which are located in the US.
“From my observation, lack of fluency in English is the greatest drawback for many talented Malaysians,” Light said.
“Many end up getting rejected from the US institutions because of their poor command of the language and their regret over not being English-educated like the Singaporeans is common.”
Light pointed out that Singapore’s emphasis on English has rewarded it with an AAA credit rating based on intellectual commodities while Malaysia still lags behind with a credit rating of A-.
“If we choose to close the door, the decline of the nation is inevitable,” Light concluded. “But it is also up to civil society to predicate its fate.This is a democratic nation and the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.”
“The future belongs to us, the students and the parents. We should move forward to refurbish English prowess among Malaysians and detest the scrapping of PPSMI.”
.... Free Malaysia Today.

Besides these two news, these are letters sent to the press today:

Use PPSMI to integrate the various races

It has been a major policy of the Government that integration of the many races should be done through the schools. For that, the Government spends a lot of money to upgrade the Sekolah Kebangsaan to make it the school of first choice.

But whatever the Government does to upgrade the Sekolah Kebangsaan similar upgrading of the SJK(C) and SJK(T) takes place.

Not only that, the number of SJK(C) and SJK(T) also increases. This is because of the political scenario whereby political parties try to attract Chinese and Indian votes, and education is one sure way of attracting these votes.

So there is serious competition to attract pupils. In fact, it has been noticed that as soon as the Government announced the discontinuation of PPSMI (the teaching of Maths and Science in English) the enrolment of non-Malays in Sekolah Kebangsaan Rendah fell.

It became logical for parents to send their children where they learn Maths and Science in their mother tongue, rather than learn these two subjects in Malay.

It is my conviction that the only way to attract Chinese and Indian school children back into Sekolah Kebangsaan is to continue with PPSMI, and by doing so you solve one major problem, which is how to integrate children of many races.

Continuing PPSMI as suggested here is not for all schools but for selected schools where the parents want PPSMI to be continued. The Government must provide these schools with qualified and experienced Maths and Science teachers fluent in English.

Thus it encourages competition between the two streams. We will wait and see which of the streams produce the better students.
ABDUL RAHIM YUSOFF,
Kuala Lumpur.
The STAR, 21/10/11.

Another one in the press today:

Why the undue haste?

I REFER to “DPM: First report on education system review by year-end” (The Star, Oct 19). It is indeed very enlightening to read that the Cabinet will by this year’s end study this report and subsequently “endorse a special team to look into the whole process, including implementation of the country’s education policies”.

Over the years, much debate had centred on the PPSMI policy (teaching and learning of Maths and Science in English), with both sides of the divide being equally vociferous.

I wish to cite one major misconception commonly used to discredit the PPSMI policy – that it had failed to address the need to improve the standard of English.

This is possibly the weakest excuse to promote the abolishment of the policy because, in the first instance, the policy was not implemented to improve the standard of English. The policy was implemented in recognition of the fact that Maths and Science were best learnt in English, their lingua franca.

As such, there should be no correlation between PPSMI and the general standard of English in the country. The benefits of learning these subjects in English remain even today, to prepare our children when they traverse the earth in pursuit of their careers.

I have a son who will be in Form 4 in 2012 and he, being born in 1996, is in the first cohort of PPSMI. My daughter will be doing her UPSR next year.

Although my son was promised that he would be able to answer his SPM in English, he may be required to learn Maths and Science in Bahasa Melayu while in school, and then re-learn it in English, either by himself, with friends in a study group or by attending tuition.

My daughter, who is in Standard 5 this year, will also face the same scenario for her UPSR next year if the school chooses to teach in Bahasa Melayu in 2012.

Both schools have so far remained silent on the medium of instruction in 2012. There is much confusion, worry and uncertainty these days leading up to the new school term.

Following closely the debate that ensued, I have come to the conclusion that parents variously prefer Maths and Science to be imparted to their children in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin or Tamil. I am sure that their preference is based on their own set of reasons, which I duly and humbly respect.

In the same light, I am one of the many who believe that these subjects are best taught to my children in English. If we can live with three languages, why can’t we make room for a fourth?

I hope that at the end of the day, the next step could see the continuance of the existing policy, with the creation and inclusion of certain exceptions, and with leeways in place to cater for specific needs, all carried out over a reasonable period for gestation and monitoring that will help to ascertain adaptability, suitability, preference and results before a correct decision can be made.

In view of the significance of such policies in shaping the future of our children and country, I am not able to understand why the authorities seem to be in a rush to implement the abolishment of a good and logical policy.

I can understand if steps are taken to assist those who are suffering under the current policy by helping them to do better, but surely not by removing the policy in totality.

I would understand if the system is amended to accommodate the needs of those who do not do well under PPSMI, i.e. perhaps allowing them the option of Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin or Tamil.

Please do not again compare the policies of PPSMI and the recently introduced MBMMBI (Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia Memperkukuh Bahasa Inggeris) with each other because the issue is not just to improve the standard of English.

The point here is that there are a large number of Malaysian parents, students and citizens who firmly believe that Maths and Science are best learnt in English, their lingua franca.

PW,
Kuala Lumpur.
The STAR 21/10/11.


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