Ranting on PPSMI


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I sel­dom rant about cur­rent issues here. In fact, this is the first time.

It seems to be the hottest topic now, that’s it,  the rever­sal of the Teach­ing of Math and Sci­ence in Eng­lish (PPSMI) pol­icy in all national schools.

The gov­ern­ment has decided to reverse the pol­icy from teach­ing math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence in Eng­lish back to Bahasa Malaysia (BM) after 6 years of imple­men­ta­tion (since 2003).

I can under­stand why the gov­ern­ment has made such a decision.

A good friend of mine who teaches in a Chi­nese pri­mary school has been rant­ing to me about how dif­fi­cult it is for the stu­dents to learn math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence in English.

How­ever, there’s always two sides of the same coin.

I’ve seen two dif­fer­ent argu­ments between the gov­ern­ment and our for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr. Mahathir.

The gov­ern­ment scrapped the pol­icy sim­ply because the pol­icy has failed to improve the Eng­lish lan­guage pro­fi­ciency among the stu­dents. And most impor­tantly, 80–90% of the teach­ers are unable to teach the sub­jects in English.

On the other hand, Tun M’s argu­ment was more about mas­ter­ing the sub­ject of math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence rather than the Eng­lish lan­guage itself. So that our future gen­er­a­tions can become inven­tors rather than followers.

The gov­ern­ment has never men­tion any­thing about Tun M’s argu­ment while Tun M has never men­tion any­thing about the government’s argu­ment as well.

How­ever, I feel like Tun M has much more stronger points com­pare to the gov­ern­ment. Learn­ing all those math­e­mat­ics and sci­en­tific terms in BM is just point­less. Because at the end, we have to learn all the terms all over again in Eng­lish. I’ve been through the process myself. It’s a waste of time and effort.

Besides that, improv­ing the Eng­lish lan­guage pro­fi­ciency by teach­ing math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence in Eng­lish? I just don’t buy that idea.

It seems to me that the pol­icy failed not because of bad pol­icy but because of bad exe­cu­tion. Yes, failed to exe­cute, the pol­icy was good. I think exe­cu­tion is always the biggest prob­lem in Malaysia. From gov­ern­ment to pri­vate sec­tors. They could come out with world class ideas but most of the time, poor exe­cu­tion will just turn the plan into another poor project.

Revert­ing the pol­icy at pri­mary school level is rea­son­able, but at sec­ondary school level as well is just incomprehensible.

Well, this is a very dif­fi­cult choice for the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple. If the gov­ern­ment plans to re-evaluate the deci­sion, I hope they strike for a more bal­anced approach.


This post is about Life

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CommentNo. 1

Tommy10 July 20097:02 PM

That’s Malaysia for you. They always seen to fail at what they did and the end result is not always good.

I do agree to your point that teach­ing math and sci­ence term in BM will be a waste of time since when the stu­dent enter col­lege or uni­ver­sity will need to relearn the term again but this time in English.

Fur­ther­more, Eng­lish is a very impor­tant lan­guage since it can help to com­mu­ni­cate with other eas­ily in dif­fer­ent country.

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