I REFER to the letter from Hussaini Abdul Karim, "Only a small group speaks good English" (NST, Oct 2), and wish to share my feelings about the Malay-sia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, especially since it relates to the aspirations of parents and children who seek a future in science and technology.
The government has said there would be an open day this month for the public to give their feedback and that the cabinet will decide on the blueprint in December.
All we can hope is that ministers will be in favour of the option to allow students interested in the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI).
The points raised by the Parent Action Group for Education (Page) and its support groups are worth noting:
THE appeal by Page was never about improving the quality of English through PPSMI. It is about science and technology;
PAGE is not seeking PPSMI for all students. It merely wants students to be given an option to pursue PPSMI and to have the opportunity to grasp Science and Maths better through English.
This will enable students pursuing a career in science and technology to keep abreast of scientific advances. Translation of such advances to Bahasa Malaysia is never fast enough;
NOT all Science and Maths teachers are poor in English. There are enough teachers capable of teaching the subjects in English to cater for those seeking this option;
THE issue is placement of competent teachers for PPSMI in schools that have at least 30 students in each year or form who prefer the policy. These students should not be denied the option;
IN Perak, there are some 9,000 Maths and 7,000 Science teachers in 1,000-odd schools. It would be wrong to assume that the entire lot is incompetent. We believe a third of them can teach the subjects in English.
Whatever the percentage may be, there are enough competent teachers to hold PPSMI classes in a few schools in every major town.
The only problem is, these are senior teachers who will retire in five years, but the ministry has enough time to develop their replacement; and,
ANOTHER option is to designate schools, a few in each district, as permanent PPSMI schools. This would help parents who wish their children to pursue a career in science and technology to determine where to place them.
It would also help the ministry plan the human resources needed to ensure there is never a shortage of competent PPSMI teachers.
On the establishment of English-medium schools:
IF this is not in line with the education policy, then adjustments should be made, as policies must change with the times;
IF the ministry can allow Chinese and Tamil schools to exist, what is wrong with allowing English-medium schools?;
WHAT needs to be understood is that the education policy must suit the requirements of globalisation. Students must be prepared for a world 30 years ahead.
BRINGING in native speakers as English teachers and English-language experts and, for that matter, increasing the number of hours of teaching English, would have only a limited impact.
What is needed is to put into practise the use of English in the learning of other core subjects;
IT would be even better if business-related subjects are taught in English as the language of global business; and,
IT is the combination of putting into practise the English learnt, participating in debates, drama, choral speaking and societies that will enable the development of English proficiency.
We hope the blueprint will take these points into consideration.
At the end of the day, if the cabinet refuses to consider the matters highlighted above, parents will look after the needs of their children through their own initiative. Those who can afford it will choose international schools or go abroad. But what about the poor, who have no choice apart from what's offered in school?
Datuk Dr Anwar Hassan, coordinator, Page Ipoh Chapter, Perak | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Online Letters to the Editors 10 October 2012