Monday, June 08, 2009

The End Of PPSMI?

I have always been an opponent of the teaching of Maths and Science in English policy (PPSMI) as it stands. This policy and my opposition to the construction of KLCC (I started being annoying to the establishment very young!) have been major exceptions to my general support of Tun Dr M's policies.

The main reason for my opposing PPSMI has been rational, unemotional and often repeated; it is unreasonable to expect students in the rural areas who begin to learn English for the first time in Standard 1 to be able to cope with English as a medium of instruction. My examples are pertinent, such as how English even as a language is introduced late in many OECD countries like Finland and Holland, for practical reasons, and without too adverse as effect to literacy.

I found evidence of problems with PPSMI from teachers and policy-makers; most point to its introduction at Primary level in Rural areas to be a key concern. Any UMNO candidate who cared to ask would have discovered this, though it disappointed me how many chose to couch their views based on the candidates they supported! Not me. Mukhriz's chums in evidence may remember what I said at tea in Ipoh after 'Pengenalan Calon' with Tengku Azman supporting...

My opposition to the PPSMI is also moderate. I am agreeable in general to having Maths and Science taught in English from Secondary level. This makes sense much as how Latin was a medium of instruction of 'Higher Knowledge' in medieval Europe, and this is where Tun Dr M's logic that the terminology of Maths and Science in Malay is lagging really does apply. I have had problems articulating Chaos Maths and even Blending in Malay!

The problem with teaching Maths and Science in English from Secondary level is that it curtails any future effort to build a science nomenclature in Malay. Sad in terms of how it stunts the growth of Malay as a carrier of knowledge, but for the current world, there is need also to be practical. So, PPSMI to me was in short, bad, but could be modified, or fixed. Another way to make it more successful is just to introduce English in rural areas early, through Kemas etc... right...

So, I now greet the news from TS Muhyiddin, that he is considering a Pass in English to be compulsory at SPM level, to be a step in the right direction... but only if it is a precursor to at least a winding back of the PPSMI... something that has been rumoured strongly if I may add...! I am supportive enough of this in said terms to say it justifies UMNO's choice of Deputy President and DS Najib's trust in him by making him Education Minister!

However, I also encourage TS Muhyiddin and his team to take the opportunity given by this policy revamp to look at upping the quality of English taught in our schools. Our English is still being taught at a relatively basic level. This is fine for a baseline, and certainly, the baseline for a compulsory Pass should be retained for the rural folk. However, our A's and B's should be of higher value. At the same time, this may allow for our English syllabus to be more attractive to students.

Besides re-introducing the teaching of grammar (!) I would be keen to see 10 year olds begin enjoying Shakespeare, at least in simple terms. The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing are easily adapted, and could transform English teaching into a fun activity, much as Puisi and Sajak does for Malay. By 12 or 13 years, Romeo and Juliet?... the frowning of religious teachers nonwithstanding... And we can always mix it up with Hang Tuah and Tuhfat-al-Nafis dramatised in English!

Worth considering... one hopes... then perhaps, Satu Sekolah, Satu Bangsa?

NB: And I believe also that TS Muhyiddin should re-introduce a compulsory Credit in Bahasa Malaysia for SPM. Malaysians should be embarassed if they can't get even a Credit in our National Language!

1 comment:

My Oh My said...

Mengapa ulama yang arif pasal agama Islam pandai berbahasa Arab. Mengapa orang yang arif bahasa arab lebih maju di dalam menghayatan Al-Quran? Sebabnya senang... mereka mempelajari agama islam dalam BAHASA ARAB!!!! bukan bahasa melayu!!!!!

Bahasa Arab adalah bahasa asal agama islam, jadi amat bodohlah jika kita memikirkan bahawa belajar agama islam dalam bahasa melayu sudah mencukupi.

Samalah dengan sains dan matematik. Ilmu itu kebanyakannya dalam bahasa Inggeris. Jadi untuk mendalaminya, common sense says, English is the way forward.

Nik Aziz, ajar-ajarlah sikit pengikut awak tu. When our prophet urged his followers to seek knowledge as far as china, I don't expect them to speak arabic there. Jangan musnahkan kekuatan orang islam di malaysia ini dengan ketaksuban dan kejahilan anda! Anda masih manusia biasa, jangan takabur!

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