Monday, October 3, 2011

Say ‘Yes to PPSMI’.

Today's Headline:

WE REFER to the report “DPM: BM to continue as medium in national schools” (The Star, Sept 30).
English is to be the second language in this country but ironically, Mandarin seems to be given greater emphasis than English.
The Chinese-medium schools or SJKC are fast becoming the choice national schools, with Mandarin being the so-called mother tongue of the various Chinese dialect groups and even some Bahasa Melayu and Tamil speakers.
This country is struggling to progress out of the middle income trap, and the most important ingredient is education.
If we want to produce top grade workers who will be able to compete in this globalised world, we should not kid ourselves. Realistically, to be able to achieve this, Malaysia needs a population that is competent in English.
The Government has to ensure that the nation’s vision be followed through, unperturbed by anyone who has the agenda contrary to the aspirations of this peaceful multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual nation.
Education is an important and a huge portfolio that requires an individual who can focus and concentrate solely on the education, especially when the country is at the juncture of making a leap of faith into a high income nation.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin shoulders a herculean task, balancing the responsibility of a Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Education Minister.
We are of the opinion that the Education Minister has been ill-advised about matters pertaining to education, and it is at this juncture that the Government must step in without fear, favour or prejudice.
It is evident that even within the Government, many Ministers, MPs and division heads are in support of the teaching of Science and Mathe-matics in English (PPSMI) along with the  former prime minister.
Clearly the Sekolah Kebangsaan is now not the school of choice. In fact, it is by no choice that some parents enrol their children in these schools.
Racial and socio integration in national schools are on the verge of breaking down, as many parents prefer to enrol their children in Chinese and private schools instead of national schools.
How is national integration going to take place when the schools themselves practise segregation through race, language and wealth divisions?
The reality that happens in the national schools is the reverse of the aspirations for the good of our nation’s future.
If tertiary education is mainly in English, we should strive to prepare the young towards that direction as well as the work force.
English as a single subject in national schools has not proven to work before.
We have stated numerous times that the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will enable the practice and application of practical English while simultaneously promote national integration and use of the national language.
The Government can no longer ignore the plight of parents who want the best education for their children as it is too monumental a voice to be suppressed. The Education Act 1996 gives due consideration to parents for this very reason, so that the reasonable demands of parents can be met.
Parents want to be given the option of retaining PPSMI in national schools to benefit from the knowledge gained in English plus be able to inter mix and be 1Malaysia in schools. Integration must happen in schools.
The urgency now and the most important decision for the Government to make is to allow PPSMI for Form 1 students in 2012.
They have been exposed to more than six years of PPSMI education and next year they are expected to switch fully to Bahasa Malaysia for Science and Math, then after five years, switch back to English for tertiary education.
This is illogical and putting unnecessary pressure on the students.
The almost half a million students who sat for UPSR this year and their parents should at least be able to choose PPSMI next year.
If not, national schools will face the biggest outflow of students to date, in favour of private schools. Surely this would burden many parents with the increase in expenses.
The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English is allowed under the Education Act 1996 as it still upholds Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction.
Yet, with only three months to 2012, parents are still in a lurch, anxiously awaiting the sensible, “Yes for PPSMI option” from the Government.
We implore the Government, to see that this issue is not about the ballot box. Our children’s future is above it. “Yes for PPSMI option” now.
Hon. Secretary,

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE)

Johor kids going to Singapore

MOST parents in Johor make it a point to send their kids to study in Singapore even though it is a bit of a hassle for the children as they have to wake up as early as 5am.
The reason they do this is for a better education even though parents have to work extra hard.
Can you imagine the effect on our economy? There is a large outflow of our currency. It can be used effectively and efficiently in our country.
Apart from that there is the stress that both the parents and children have to endure.
The parents have to work hard to pay the exorbitant education expenses whilst the kids have to endure the extra travelling time to school.
When these children graduate, they will not want to work in Malaysia as they will be used to their surroundings in Singapore. Hence, the braindrain cycle occurs again.
The authorities have to give this issue serious thought as our country will be affected by it indirectly!
A wise decision has to be made in the interest of the people and the country as a whole!
Johor Baru.

Push for English in national-type schools

THE United Nations, in its various declarations and conventions, has continually affirmed the universal rights of minorities, including indigenous people, to an education where the medium of instruction is their mother tongue.
Mother tongue is usually narrowly-defined as the language of one’s ethnic group.
Not catered for, among others, is a growing minority of Malaysians — of diverse ethnic backgrounds – whose mother tongue or first language is English. —DR. LAN BOON LEONG
The more general definition of mother tongue is the language that one first learns to speak as a child, in other words, one’s first language.
In this broader sense, a person could have more than one mother tongue and the ethnic language may not even be a mother tongue.
Our present education system caters for minorities but only those whose mother tongue is either Mandarin or Tamil through the national-type schools.
Not catered for, among others, is a growing minority of Malaysians — of diverse ethnic backgrounds – whose mother tongue or first language is English.
This linguistic minority has the same right as all other minorities, including the indigenous people, to an education in their mother tongue in a national-type school.
They should not have to compromise and attend a national school, or a national-type school, where the medium of instruction is not English.
Children who begin their schooling in a language which is not their mother tongue face two simultaneous challenges: learn a new language and learn in the new language.
Those who cannot cope with the former will not be able to cope with the latter.
How can the child understand what is taught if he or she has difficulty understanding the language of instruction?
Inability to understand what is taught leads to a loss of not only interest in learning but also self-confidence as a learner.
Disadvantaged by the language of instruction, even smart kids eventually drop out of school.
It is therefore not surprising, according to Unesco, that numerous studies have confirmed that children learn best if the medium of instruction is their mother tongue.
These children perform better academically, and they have lower drop-out rates and higher self esteem than their counterparts who learn solely in a language which is not their mother tongue.
Moreover, once they have achieved proficiency in their mother tongue, particularly literacy skills, these children tend to achieve higher proficiency in the official or national language, which is taught as a subject, than their counterparts who learn exclusively in the official language.
The government’s conviction that Science and Mathematics “need to be taught in a language easily understood by students” led to the reversal of the PPSMI policy which is the teaching and learning of both the subjects in English.
The reversal means that the two subjects, like all other subjects, will be taught solely in Bahasa Malaysia in the national schools, and solely in Mandarin or Tamil in the national-type schools.
One of the reasons cited by the government for its conviction was: “Unesco studies showed that it would be easier for students to learn in their mother tongue at the early stage of education”.
If the government believes Science and Mathematics are best learnt in the mother tongue, surely it must also believe the same is true for all other subjects.
So, why do we not have English-medium national-type schools, where Malaysian children from diverse ethnic backgrounds learn in their mother tongue and learn the national language together?
Dr. Lan Boon Leong, who is an Associate Professor at Monash University Sunway Campus, is the founder of Parents for English-medium National-type Schools (PENS). He thinks and dreams solely in English although he is a Malaysian.The website for PENS is http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/PENSmember/.

Have a nice day, Malaysians...

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