Sunday, November 6, 2011

PPSMI....Nails Can Be Pried Open Again

Apparently a 'No' by a political leader does not mean very much. For months, various parties have been asking that the government re-look the decision to abolish PPSMI. The DPM cum Minister of Education said no; adamantly and with the air of finality most of the time.

Then on the day when we were supposed to get more news about the MBMMBI (Strengthening of Bahasa Malaysia and English), a turnaround. PPSMI will continue after all, albeit for those who started their education while it was still running; meaning those from Year 2 onwards will get to finish their education with Math and Science in English. I guess the many parents of Year 1 students will be hopping with unhappiness now.

So, my kid gets to continue to be taught with the PPSMI. I should be elated but I am not. My concern remains the quality of instruction in English and also the marking of her public examination scripts later. There is a 'generation gap' of poor English command of the teachers. Try as the MOE did to upgrade their English, it is still not getting far. We have been seeing some statistics in the last few days why PPSMI should be abolished. And one was a low percentage of teachers are incompetent in the language. And that is why my elation is muted... and also why I think we should bring back English medium schools.

The government and nationalist claim that the medium of instruction needs to be in BM for national unity. But that argument has many faults. Our schooling system. Chinese and many Malays who want 'better' quality education flock to send their children to Chinese vernacular (national type) schools. The national schools are predominantly made up of Malay students; in the Peninsular. Integration? Nation building? How to have nation building when schools are made up of almost single race?

The need for BM is rather minimal out of the civil service; and it's generally difficult for non-Bumis to get into it, attested by the low percentage of non-Bumis in it now. One can get by with all sorts of dialects and pidgin BM (bahasa pasar) in one's small world - since that seems to be the objective of our having so many types of school along racial lines. Each race feels compelled to preserve their culture and heritage. If everything is done in the best interest of everyone, I think this siege mentality would somehow be reduced. Look at America or even Peru and so many other countries where assimilation is total. It's hard not to come to a conclusion that the we have been divided and ruled so that a certain group can continue to remain in power. Power is now considered a privilege and not duty to serve.

So, coming back to PPSMI. It's been an interesting few days. Through the discussions on FB, I've learned that the growing middle income families are now more aware and concerned for their children's education... and this cuts across racial lines. I read of the Johoreans who send their children over to Singapore to be educated and how their parents take courses to upgrade themselves so that they can coach themselves. I've read of how those in other cities are toying with homeschooling and international schools. Different races, backgrounds, and there feels like this consensus that our education system is not getting any better, and that those who go through our education system are not well-equipped for the working world.

The voices of those without the means to express themselves via digital technology are not really heard and they continue to be made used by politicians. This PPSMI latest announcement is by no means a solution because it still leaves our education in 2 worlds. There needs to be a revamp, that's for sure. But whether we have a government who has our best interest at heart remains to be seen...


Dino said...

If you think about it, when we were in school, everything was taught in BM but a lot of us are still fluent in English. As for me, even after being taught so much BM, i think English is my first language as to BM. Am very glad that is the case.

Thomas C B Chua said...

AJ 7, there is NO strong will to do what is right. As far as the issue of BM is concerned, you just cannot have your cake and eat it at the same time. It is one for the other, or nothing at all.

BM is not a scientific language. BM has hardly 10 Scientific terminologies. The rest were borrowed from the English language with a change in spelling.

I was educated in the English language and when BM came into prominence after 1976 and being in the government service a good number of us can speak and write BM as good if not better than some Malays.

It was time a definite decision is made and kept, and not "ding dong' from one end to another. Some politicians are sick in the head. Where are we heading? I wonder.

AJ7 said...

Dino: We had an exceptional childhood; exceptional school, exceptional teachers, exceptional role models and exceptional legacy left by the founding fathers of our hometown. Like you, my BM is good. But the last 20 years have seen a degradation of our education system which makes no sense except for political reasons. And to think that all of us bought it all - the racial ketuanan thingy. As a result, our education system is rather cacat now.
Thomas: BM may not be a scientific language but it's even more horrendous learning Science in Mandarin. It's time we have English medium if it were up to me. Let the parents choose. I am quite sure, many will make a beeline for English medium.

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