Monday, 15 September 2008

"Give Schools Option To Teach In English"

The debate on whether to jettison the policy of teaching maths and science in English continues. Some parents have suggested that schools be given the option to teach both the subjects in English. A comparison between the English and the Malay dailies predictably reveals two schools of thought, one for and the other against. The latter is concerned with how the Malay language has been robbed of its status as a language of maths and science, in other words a language of scientific discourse. Voicing this fear, a committee member of the Association of National Writers said,"Menghapuskan bahasa Melayu daripada isi dan kandungan ilmu Sains dan Matematik yang tinggi akan menjadikan bahasa kebangsaan itu satu bahasa rendah, pasaran dan hanya untuk kegunaan golongan rendah."

A PTA vice-chairperson advocating the continuation of the policy at a round-table discussion with the Ministry of Education

The other view urged the government to continue with the policy so that their children will be able to compete in the job market and on a global level. They have seen how thousands of graduates most of whom are Malays, have remained unemployable because of their poor command of the language. These debates were fuelled by a recent study conducted by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris which concluded that the Policy was flawed and should be scrapped. However Bakri Musa has pointed out several flaws in its design among which are:

- lack of any control group
- the convoluted English in some of the questions
- exclusion of other variables, for example teachers' proficiency, parents' educational level.

He has also dug up a nugget of information pertaining to the background of the university which carried out the study:

UPSI in its previous incarnation as Sultan Idris Teachers’ College
was a hotbed of Malay nationalism. This study is less an academic
research and more political polemic camouflaged as a pseudo-scientific
study to justify its authors’ nationalist bias. Their data and methodology
just do not support their conclusion.

The government will announce its decision after the results of the national Primary school assessment at the end of the year.

Given the intense lobbying by UMNO and other Malay non-government organizations, it is highly improbable that the policy would be continued. Another policy which will suffer a pre-mature death.


  1. Let's hope that this policy will be continued and not scrapped. However, with the current political climate, who knows what will happen?

  2. I am taken by that little picture of 'you',very mongolian if you know what I mean! Information from the grapvine suggests that it will be scrapped; and the roundtable discussions they are having at the moment is just a sandiwara.

  3. Sorry to hear it. It brings to mind the phrase "throwing out the baby with the bath water".