kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Maintain Science and Mathematics in BM

I REMEMBER a time in 2009 when people went to the streets to demand that the medium of instruction be changed to Bahasa Malaysia.

The riot police had to intervene to bring the situation under control. What happened to this group of people? Have they changed their minds again?

The government was left almost speechless, with no support from the people to maintain the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.

The initial introduction of the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English policy was done in 2003 with no in-depth study on the consequences.

Slowly and reluctantly, the government gave in and reverted to Bahasa Malaysia as the language of instruction. Years later, there is a growing voice for us to revert to English, with some calling for English-medium schools.

If the decisions are reversed, there will be more demonstrations in the streets again to go back to Bahasa Malaysia. It is about time influential people stayed out and stopped making public comments about the education policy for the sake of politics rather than in the best interest of education, since their comments can sway public opinion considerably.

Unfortunately, most of us who speak English well are the ones whose voices are heard, while the silent majority are unable to make its views heard.

The government has already taken this roller-coaster ride once and another roller-coaster will throw our students off the ride and make them unable to get up again.

They are the ones who will suffer the most if drastic changes are made every few years. English is a universal language that is spoken in most countries.

But, not being proficient in English is not a barrier that stops you from acquiring knowledge. People in countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and France have a poorer command of English than we do, yet are more successful and more knowledgeable in most areas.

Most Nobel Prize winners are not from English-speaking countries. If we are concerned about the quality of English of our graduates, then we should focus only on improving their English or make entry requirements with emphasis on their command of English.

Science and Mathematics are universal subjects that can be taught in any language, and in our case, the language that most of our students are most comfortable with is Bahasa Malaysia.

To some of us, this may sound surprising, but this is a fact that you will only find out when you go out of big cities or at least out of the circle of people you are surrounded by every day.

Those who echo the sentiments to change the medium of instruction to English are most likely already proficient in the language. It would be a complete waste if students were to give up on Science and Mathematics simply because they do not have a good command of English.

Most of our students will end up in skills development centres or working in unskilled fields, which require some knowledge of Science and Mathematics regardless of what language they are taught in.

The minority who make it to university should either have a good command of English or go through an intensive English course before starting their course.

Bahasa Malaysia has been used before as a medium of instruction and there were no problems with the quality of our students.

The only difference now is the emphasis to learn multiple languages and various religious subjects, mostly for political reasons, rather than focusing more on Science and Mathematics.

If an adjustment needs to be made, high-performance schools could be allowed to use English as a medium of instruction as required.

Do not deprive the majority who do not get to go to university at least a foundation in Science and Mathematics in a language they are most comfortable with. The loudest voice is not necessarily the voice of the majority.

Education experts should come up with education policies, while politicians and other influential people should only stick to implementing the policies drafted by education experts.
Siti Khadijah, Petaling Jaya, Selangor The NST Letters to the Editors 18 Jun 2015
Tags: bahasa, maths, mbmmbi, ppsmi, science

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