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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Muhyiddin goes for political gain, gives English the shove

Muhyiddin goes for political gain, gives English the shove

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must be under the sincere belief that political gain is more important than the education of our next generation. By pushing through his anti-PPSMI rhetoric, Form Four students will find themselves in limbo after being told that they would have to sit their SPM exams in Bahasa Malaysia, despite being taught in English for their entire school lives thus far.

The Education Ministry is being simply irresponsible for refusing to introduce the dwibahasa system in order to better facilitate the transition. The Deputy Minister's excuse that teachers are unable to speak English, let alone teach in it, is simply a cop-out and utterly inexcusable.

It is simply alarming that the federal government has completely failed to address the fact that their teachers were not qualified to teach Maths and Science in English since the policy's implementation. Now they use this as an excuse to re-introduce Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for these subjects. In short, they use incompetence to justify returning to mediocrity.

When the system was originally changed from the English to the Malay language system, the standard of English was still high. What we see now is the steady decline in the command of the spoken and written language. This is especially evident in our younger generations, which is setting off alarm bells in parents. This also gives rise to parents forming interest groups such as PAGE to fight for better English education.

No need for language insecurity

I have expressed before that Bahasa Malaysia is an important language as our Bahasa Kebangsaan or national language. It is what unites us as Malaysians, and it should be used our local lingua franca. Bahasa Malaysia transcends race and religion, and unites us as one people.

Having said that, English is the global language of commerce, and could almost be portrayed as the global lingua franca. Even a super power such as China, which is the world's fastest growing economy does not underestimate the power of the English language, with more emphasis on its teaching within their education systems.

In the business and scientific world, English is still the primary language. The Science Citation Index reported that 95% of scientific journals published are in the English language despite only half of them being native English speakers. What logic then can we give to the teaching of Science to revert back to Malay? When so many terms in science are translated directly form English to Malay, like "Oxygen" to "Oksigen", would it not be more logical just to teach the subject in English?

The current batch of Form Four students are going to be severely handicapped going into the new year. Without even a dwibahasa system, the policies of this Barisan Nasional government is going to severely cripple the lives and future of these students.

Going into an election period, with already so much bad press going against them, I am not sure how many parents would be happy with their children taking two steps back because of irrational and illogical thinking on the part of this government.

Douglas Tan reads Malaysia Chronicle

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