MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, June 17, 2024

6 things that need to be accomplished before axing DLP


Free Malaysia Today

There are heated discussions on the dual language programme (DLP) issue.

As usual, this will eventually turn into a “Malay-against-the others” political affair.

In one sense, education minister Fadhlina Sidek is right that many are not mastering Bahasa Malaysia.

I know because my sons had a hard time. Why? Because we speak English at home and watch all the movies in English as well as read my collection of Archie comics and Enid Blyton books.

So when my sons were almost failing BM, I had to take some drastic measures.

The only reading material worth the interest of my two boys were the supernatural stories in Majalah Mastika or Pesona.

I do not like filling their heads with Malay ghosts and bomohs but what to do? All the other Malay books are boring, and the interesting ones are just translations of Western stories and fables. The Malay stories were too preachy!

Anyway, I digress. The subject today is the elimination of the DLP that has the parents and teachers in an uproar. Malaysians are so sensitive nowadays. Socks, “bak kut teh”, shoes and subject language, and the country can turn topsy-turvy.

Aiya, what to do, it’s the internet I guess.

For me, as a citizen, I do not know what the fuss is all about. If we decide to axe the DLP, so be it! That’s not our decision.

There is very little value in insulting BM as a second rate language no one else speaks outside Melaka and Kelantan.

There is also little value in making English look so good like it’s a saviour of some kind. No, that is not the issue. For me, axing DLP is fine if the education ministry can assure us six things that MUST be there, or else, the DLP should just as well be reinstated.

This will, of course, send the likes of Umno diehards into a frenzy of spouting hatred and malice against the likes of me and others. But I stand my ground.

People like this stand only on sentiment but I stand on simple facts and arguments.

All the other subjects are already in Bahasa Malaysia, so why must the BM subject have so many periods? There’s no need for it. This is not being unpatriotic or un-Malay. It is just common sense and being scientifically pragmatic.

Second, can the ministry hire extra assistants for all English teachers with classes of more than 20 students? If an English teacher, like my wife used to be, had to teach 45 students in a class, mati lah ini macam.

We are fooling ourselves. How do we do this? Just get the retired English teachers or free all those useless administrators walking the corridors of the education ministry. Send them back to school.

Third, can the ministry assure us citizens that there will be books of worthy and exciting reading in the libraries of all the schools, and not just the MRSM or SMS ones?

I learned English through reading books and comics, talking to non-Malay friends and also watching all the TV shows in English. On my own. I learned 90% of my English through reading and watching TV. But please lah do not put so many SPM questions/practice exercises in the library. Get the bookshop people to help the teachers who hopefully also love reading.

Fourth, stop taking teachers from the likes of UPSI only and look elsewhere for good speaking Malaysians. What is this nonsense of paying European teachers enormous salaries when you can hire seven teaching assistants or four full time teachers for the same amount of money?

There are many private university students in Malaysia who speak and write good English but their degrees are not recognised to allow them to be recruited as teachers in public schools.

Only students from public universities, however teruk their English, are accepted if they pass their degree certification. This policy MUST change.

Fifth, why are public universities allowed to teach courses in English? I understand UiTM teaches fully in English.

Why insist that science and mathematics be learned in BM and then make the students have to convert their knowledge to English when they go into university?

This contradictory policy between the higher education ministry and the education ministry is shameful.

If we want English at public universities, use DLP in schools and public universities can choose to teach in English or not.

But axing the DLP must come with the decision requiring all first degree courses to be taught in Malay. I taught Structures in Architecture in Malay as “Kerangka dan Struktur Bangunan”.

I taught theory and history of architecture as “Sejarah dan Teori Senibina”.

I translated and wrote books on architecture both in BM and in English. What is the problem? I had my architecture students write in Malay for their assignments and research topics so that they could not cut and paste from the internet their Design Thesis Projects and Topical Studies.

Then came the order at UTM to teach all in English. Why? Ranking requires a certain number of international students and these people do not speak Bahasa Malaysia. Kera di hutan disusukan, anak sendiri mati kelaparan.

Sixth, I would like to suggest that the ministry sponsor three-week English camps at schools.

These camps must be multiracial and students must speak English 100% of the time for those three weeks. Broken English is fine, so is Manglish.

When I taught English to 60 Malay children in my kampung, I used reading, speaking and singing. Tests and grammar drills would come much much later.

Once the children are unafraid of pronouncing the words and can speak broken English, then and only then I introduce a little bit of grammar. But reading, listening and speaking are absolutely key.

We are polarised by race in demography of location not only in rural areas but also in high density urban areas.

So, by all means, do away with the DLP but make sure you have these six things resolved and committed to first. - FMT

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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