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Thursday, October 20, 2011

You Cannot Run Away, PPSMI...

PPSMI TO STAY.... 
I mentioned "The PPSMI issue is in the newspapers EVERYDAY" in my previous post. Yes, it is.. We have a few today...
I'll stress the important lines:
1. Commerce, education and intellectual interactions are not local, but global. Modern-day affairs on all frontiers are English-dependent. Thus, globally, Science and Mathematics are taught in English, for one’s professional career depends heavily on effective correspondence.
2. The future belongs to us, the students and the parents. It belongs to all Malaysians. We should move forward to refurbish English prowess among Malaysians and repeal the scrapping of PPSMI.
3. Truly, our officials in the Education Ministry must learn to look and think beyond the proverbial “tempurung”, lest they further ill advise our busy ministers.
4. If a mistake has been made, let’s be honest and bold enough to own up. If needed, let a flip-flop be.
5. PPSMI is for the good of our future generations. We know it. We believe in it.
The first letter, in the STAR today:

On English we progress

THE poor command of English among the majority of Malaysians is sad. If the policy makers fail to appreciate the need for English amid globalisation, our nation’s progress will stall and we will sink even deeper into the quagmire of lingual isolation.
Commerce, education and intellectual interactions are not local, but global. Modern-day affairs on all frontiers are English-dependent. International collaborations are conducted in this universal language to make viable communication between people of different nationalities.
Thus, globally, Science and Mathematics are taught in English, for one’s professional career depends heavily on effective correspondence.
A scientist from MIT would never understand a physics research paper and mathematical lemmas written in Malay; a tech start-up in Malaysia will not gain traction in English-speaking foreign markets.
The outside world would turn to other countries that provide English-fluent professionals, such as Singapore, and leave us sidelined. If Malaysians fail to master English, education will lose its significance, and we will face disconnectedness, like North Korea.
In a globalised world, there is simply no demand for professionals who do not speak English.
All great textbooks are written in English, and all students are expected to understand them. That is why everyone is learning the language. Even a powerful nation like China acknowledges this fact.
It would be absurd of us to translate scientific texts into Malay for study, and to translate them back to English when used internationally.
There is no denying that our top scholars have always dreamt of being the pinnacle of the intellectual world. The best research institutions, such as MIT and Caltech, are in the United States. They are the beacons that attract the brightest minds from all around the world to make great things happen. However, you need English to make yourself relevant to them.
One of the criteria of getting admission to these top institutions is to have a sufficiently high SAT score (or fluency in English). However, SAT is the greatest block to many talented Malaysians. They end up being rejected by the US institutions because of their poor SAT performance.
Foreign corporations have also noted that Malaysian workers have terrible English and thus horrible communication skills.
Since the whole world literally runs on English, being inept in this language means a great loss. Without English, we would be denied access to enlightening works and descend into the pit of ignorance. And social ignorance is best indicated by the lack of civil society and complete democracy.
Singapore’s national emphasis on English has empowered its ascension; today it is a modern, wealthy country with AAA credit rating that is based strongly on intellectual commodities (brain power instead of natural resources and labour).
In stark comparison, Malaysia, which is blessed with much natural resources and labour, is behind, with a credit rating of a mere A-.
If we choose to close the door, I’m afraid the decline of the nation is inevitable.
It is 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. It belongs to all Malaysians. We should move forward to refurbish English prowess among Malaysians and repeal the scrapping of PPSMI.
NATE LIGHT,
Petaling Jaya.


The other letter to the press:

If needed, let a flip-flop be

IN abolishing and not offering an option for PPSMI (the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English), the Education Ministry has cited as a main supporting argument a Unesco report that children learn best in the beginning using their own mother tongues “Muhyiddin: Decision to abolish PPSMI made after much thought” (The Star, Oct 16).
If that is the understanding and stand of the Education Ministry, are we to think that the Ministry now believes and advocates that Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK, the national primary school) is no longer suitable and conducive to learning for pupils whose mother tongue is not Bahasa Malaysia (BM)?
For effective and “best” learning, children of Malaysian Chinese will now have to enroll in vernacular Chinese schools only; and similarly, children of Malaysian Indians will have to enroll in vernacular Tamil schools only.
And, by extension, what about children whose families speak other tongues? Will the Education Ministry also allow the opening of vernacular primary schools of these other tongues?
What nonsensical arguments and implication are all these? Where is the Ministry leading the poor parents and pupils?
More interestingly, we have also many families known to speak English at home for generations though they are not “Englishmen and women”. So, are we going to see the re-emergence of English primary schools so that these children can learn more effectively and in a “best” manner? Many families would say “Bravo” to that!
Truly, our officials in the Education Ministry must learn to look and think beyond the proverbial “tempurung”, lest they further ill advise our busy ministers.
If a mistake has been made, let’s be honest and bold enough to own up. If needed, let a flip-flop be.
PPSMI is for the good of our future generations. We know it. We believe in it. We may even be “privately” doing it for our own children. But, publicly, to preserve our position and “standing”, we do otherwise.
No one should risk being cursed eternally because of wanting to save face for now.
LIONG KAM CHONG,
Seremban.


Over to you, Mr. Prime Minister....
Have a nice day....

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