Monday, August 17, 2009

Teaching of Maths and Science in English extended to 2014

Recently the Ministry of Education has announced that the period for teaching of maths and science in English has been extended. The following are excerpts from NST ‘The current cohort of students studying Mathematics and Science in English can continue to do so until they finish their secondary school. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said although the reversal of the policy, known as PPSMI, was to be fully executed in 2012, the deadline would be extended to 2014 for this group.’

This news is definitely a relief for parents and students especially those that will be in the secondary school in 2012. Before this announcement I have heard numerous concerns and valid comments on the predicament faced by students stuck in transition period. I have advised these people to provide their feedback to the Ministry of Education through the official website or number. Purpose is to enable the Ministry to obtain direct feedback from the stakeholder.

By extending the period to 2014, it will enable the Secondary students to complete the crucial years of secondary school in the language that they have started with. Imagine the unnecessary stress and time required by the student to accustom back to Bahasa Malaysia. This is more so when a student is faced with the public exam SPM whereby its results holds the key to their future.

‘The cabinet’s decision on this was to allay concerns by parents fearing that their children would be adversely affected by the policy reversion.’

This shows that there is action taken based on the feedback received and the effort of the parents are not in vain. Recently the Parents teacher association (PTA) in a school in Hartamas has decided to do a poll on whether English should be used to teach maths and science. The teachers and parents were prevented from conducting this peaceful poll in the school compound. This has caught the attention of the Deputy Prime Minister which has also subsequently apologised for the actions of his officers.

It is a positive step that the Ministry allows PTA to conduct its own survey. Even though the turnout rate is not high, the survey shows that there are still parents that are concern on the effect of the policy. Maybe to get a better gauge on response of all parents and teachers, all PTA’s around Malaysia should carry out its polls to determine if teachers and parents are supportive of the move to reverse the policy. The polls should be transparent, free from interference and all parents/teachers must be provided with sufficient notice and be allowed to vote. I believe that the results from the poll will present a clearer situation on whether teachers and parents either in rural or urban prefer the teaching of Maths and Science in English, Bahasa Malaysia or in the respective mother tongue.

One of the reasons for the reversal of the policy is that there is a lack of sufficient manpower and resources to continue with the policy of using English as the medium for English and maths. If I am not mistaken, there are only 8% of teachers that are really proficient and confident in teaching Maths and Science in English. Meanwhile, the remaining teachers are having problems using English to teach the subjects. Thus it is argued that continuing with the policy may also not be in the best interest of the students.

Furthermore, the initial intention to use English was to improve the command of the English language but that has so far not yielded much positive results. This is expected as no efforts has been undertaken to introduce a proper teaching structure for English (i.e. grammar & literature). At the moment the English subject is being taught as communicative English.

However, the concern still persists for those students who will be faced with the problem of studying English at the start and ending with Bahasa Malaysia. Subsequently in university they would most likely have to switch back to English. It would have been better that all those who start in English completes in English. It may cause some inconvenience to the Ministry but the government should not cause inconvenience or confusion to the students as they are at the receiving end and have not had the chance to voice the agreement or disagreement when the policy was first implemented. Anyway the bulk of the financial resources and materials are still available and it would not pose too much problem to allow the entire batch of student to complete before the Bahasa Malaysia policy is implemented.

Using Bahasa Malaysia as a medium of instruction should only be carried out on a new batch of year one students from 2012 onwards.

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