Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let parents choose the medium of instruction

THE Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) is encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister’s reference to the Prime Minister’s statement “that the Government would study the possibility of using two mediums of instruction in the teaching of Science and Mathematics in schools” (The Star, April 5).

In our endeavour to assist in making this statement a reality, we wish to offer our humble proposal to the Government for consideration.

We propose that the two mediums, that is, Bahasa Melayu and English, be made an option for parents to choose from, in primary as well as secondary national schools.

We wish to suggest that the Education Ministry offer the options available to each and every parent as is provided for in the Malaysian Education Act 1996 and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “children are to be educated according to the wishes of their parents”.

Each parent is to indicate to their children’s school the medium of instruction preferred. The school will collate the preference which will determine the number of Science and Mathematics classes to be conducted in Bahasa Melayu and English.

Every national school, primary and secondary, will offer a minimum of one Bahasa Melayu and one English option class at every level. The rest of the classes, if any, will be taught in the language of choice (Bahasa Melayu or English) as chosen by the parents.

Examination questions and textbooks will continue to remain bilingual.

The propensity to learn is highest between pre-school and primary school, and allowing the English option to begin as soon as possible will ensure a smooth and seamless transition into STPM, diploma or pre-university levels.

There should be a concerted effort to gradually evolve into an English environment for both Science and Mathematics over a fixed period.

An appropriate strategy would be to help those teachers who still have problems implementing in English.

The sovereignty of Bahasa Melayu will continue to remain protected as the national language as is stated in the Federal Constitution.

The English policy had never advocated the learning of English via Mathematics and Science.

It had instead intended to acquire the knowledge that is found in mathematics and science through English, its lingua franca. There is a vast difference between the two.

To quote Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad: “Most other subjects taught in schools are relatively static, i.e. they don’t change much and little new knowledge is added with the passage of time.

“But Science in particular changes and advances rapidly, so that old knowledge can be actually displaced by new knowledge added almost every day as research is carried out.

“Almost all this new knowledge is produced in the English language. It is quite impossible to have all of this translated into Malay. We just don’t have people qualified in the different fields and fluent in both scientific English and Malay to do this.

“If there are, they would not want to spend a lifetime translating research papers and books.

“Failure to gain access to new scientific knowledge would mean we would be left behind.

“But if we study science in English, each scientist would be able to access the latest findings in his particular field by himself.”

Source: The Star