Chinese students from the new villages might be incompetent in the subject and could not perform well in the SPM exam “Wee: Don’t let your kids quit school” (The Star, May 31).
While expressing his concern, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong highlighted the poor performance of Chinese and Indian students in BM at SPM level.
For the Chinese students, this inadequacy contributes to the dropout rate among them. It can safely be assumed that many Indian students also face a similar predicament. The high enrolment of Chinese children in vernacular schools indicates the parents’ preference for mother tongue education.
However, the medium of instruction, Chinese, which helps them in their primary education could actually hinder their learning in secondary schools if they are not properly grounded in BM at primary level.
Students who are incompetent in BM will find the going tough when all the lessons, except English, at secondary level are taught in BM. Their inability to follow the lessons will lead to loss of interest in studying. Attending schools will then become a chore rather than a fun-filled routine.
In fact, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that students who are poor in BM struggle throughout the five or six years of secondary school. This may lead some parents to think that teaching their children vocational skills may be better, thus prompting the minister to urge parents not to withdraw them from schools prematurely.
The implementation of “Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia & Memperkukuh Bahasa Inggeris” (To uphold Bahasa Malaysia and to strengthen the English Language) in 2010 was a double-edged sword.
The policy that ensures each child is able to master both Malay and English requires students to have a better command of BM for both the formative and summative tests.
In 2014, up to 20% of UPSR and PT3 questions were based on HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) questions, “Transforming our Education” (The Star, June 3).
The HOTS questions test students’ application and reasoning skills, and proficiency in BM is the prerequisite to answer them competently.
The limited exposure to BM in vernacular schools could have contributed to this incompetency.
The solution requires the Chinese and Indian communities as well as the Education Ministry to think out of the box to ensure that each child gets a solid foundation in BM before he or she completes primary education.
This is of paramount importance if we are to achieve the aims of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
Ting Lian Lee Johor Baru The STAR Home News Opinion Letters June 25, 2015