“Bahasa Melayu is certainly one of our agendas, but through our nationwide survey, we have found that 54% of the respondents, of which 70% were Malays, prefer to have PPSMI retained. For this reason, we hope that the government would listen to the voices of parents and students.”TO KEEP up with the rest of the world, young Malaysians will need to be proficient in the English language as it is the language most commonly used in knowledge and information dissemination on the Internet.
Blog House Malaysia president Syed Akbar Ali said policy makers need to pay attention to the speed with which information travels and embrace it, if we do not want to be left behind.
“So much information out there is in English, and there are so many loan words in our dictionaries which have been borrowed from the English language because the infrastructure of new scientific technologies are not yet developed in the Malay language,” he added.
“This is not a matter of patriotism or heritage. While it is certainly possible to develop the field of Science and Maths in the Malay language, it will take time. Rather than translating, it is much easier to just learn the language,” he said.
Syed Akbar was one of the panelists present at a press conference organised by the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) recently in an effort to keep the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (also known by its Malay acronym PPSMI) as an option in schools.
The PPSMI policy was initiated by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and implemented in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced in 2009 that the Government would reverse the PPSMI policy and revert to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools; and Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools, while more emphasis would be placed on English.
However, he said in August that the Government was keeping its options open on the matter.
PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the purpose of the press conference was to demonstrate that the issue was a matter of national interest and should not be taken lightly.
“PAGE is now supported by a collaboration of a larger group representing the mammoth presence of like-minded parents, students and supporters.
“We stand together singing the same tune, louder and determined to make our voices heard,” she said.
Also present at the session to show his support was Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) founding president Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz, who said that he had ignored advice from several people to refrain from speaking about this topic because it was too sensitive and political.
“The groups represented today are united because of our strong feelings in a policy that will impact profoundly on the next generation of Malaysians and have long-lasting implications on the future of our nation as a whole,” he said.
Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) president Mak Chee Kin said Magpie was set up purposefully for this issue.
“We are not against the fact that the government has chosen to abolish PPSMI in schools that have problems coping, but we want to bring attention to the schools that have done well since the launch of PPSMI. The Education Minister has said that children learn best in their mother tongue, so what about the students who speak English as their mother tongue?”
Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah also urged the Government to listen to the rakyat.
“Bahasa Melayu is certainly one of our agendas, but through our nationwide survey, we have found that 54% of the respondents, of which 70% were Malays, prefer to have PPSMI retained. For this reason, we hope that the government would listen to the voices of parents and students.”
Herald of Penang Education (HOPE) chairman Rowena Yam said, “If the vernacular schools have already been allowed to teach Science and Maths in Chinese or Tamil, what harm can there be to allow English to be a part of that option in national schools?”
Noor Azimah also urged the public to sign a petition set up by PAGE that is currently being circulated via e-mail and Facebook.
“PAGE has been fighting this war over the past three years, and unfortunately, the majority of the public have chosen to remain silent and leave this fight to us.
“We know there is a silent majority out there and we urge you to make your voices heard,” she said.