Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bahasa Melayu or English? Do we have a choice?

It was reported in The Sun today that English was the language of choice for 92.7% out of 53,638 students who took the Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) in 2008 - an increase of 0.8% compared to the previous year.

In fact, there has been a steady increase of STPM students who opted to answer in English. In 2006 and 2007, a total of 85.6% and 91.9% of students respectively answered in English.

It is good to note that 36,470 (67.99%) of students were bumiputra candidates, 12,484 (23.27%) were Chinese, 3,884 (7.24%) Indians and 800 (1.49%) were from other races.

So, I don't see the point why people go against Maths and Science being taught in English. Why all the protests and when it is shown here that the young generation wants English as the universal tool to communicate with rest of the world. And most importantly, getting a spot in a overseas university. But does it mean that they will forget the national language, Bahasa Melayu I asked a colleague of mine the other day.

"No !" said Abdul Radzif, aged 48, a father of four. His sons are currently studying in higher learning establishments. 

"Tell me, why is there a problem teaching Maths and Science in English? You think you can go to overseas to continue your studies with an A+ in Maths and Science in Bahasa Melayu? And when that time comes, you think you can brush up your English to fit in and be competitive?" he said in disgust.

"I am English ed all this while, but it does not mean that we Malays abandon of our mother tongue or forget who we are, how absurd can they get? This issue is politically motivated." he added.

The GMP issued a meorandum to the King, asking for the abolishment of PPSMI, I would like to share a few of the topics here,

"4. Keputusan PPSMI yang dibuat dalam tahun 2003 itu dibuat dengan mengejut tanpa apa-apa perbincangan, tanpa apa-apa perundingan dengan pakar-pakar pendidikan dan bahasa, tanpa memikirkan baik buruknya terhadap bahasa Melayu dan terhadap pelajar dan guru yang telah cukup biasa mengajar dan belajar sains dan matematik dalam bahasa Melayu di Sekolah Kebangsaan (atau dalam bahasa ibunda di Sekolah Jenis-Kebangsaan Cina dan Tamil) selama lebih 37 tahun!"

Since 2003 until now, what has been done to beef up the level of English among students and teachers? 6 years is not enough?

"8. Setelah enam tahun berjalan, PPSMI masih tidak berkesan dan banyak menimbulkan masalah yang kebanyakannya tidak didedahkan kepada umum. Pengumuman Keputusan UPSR Tahun 2008 menunjukkan hanya 31.1% (159,234) murid sahaja daripada 511,875 murid Tahun 6 yang menjawab Kertas Sains dalam bahasa Inggeris. Ini bererti sebanyak 68.9% (352,641) murid tidak menjawab dalam bahasa Inggeris. Ini bukti kegagalan mengajar sains dan matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris, walaupun dipaksakan kepada pelajar itu."

"9. Dalam mata pelajaran matematik pula, 46.6% (238,153) murid daripada 511,499 jumlah murid yang menduduki peperiksaan Matematik UPSR menjawab dalam bahasa Inggeris. Ini bererti 53.4% atau seramai 273,346 murid menjawab dalam BM atau BM/BI. Ini juga bukti kegagalan pengajaran matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris kepada pelajar berbahasa Melayu."

I believe the answer to this issue is simple. The teachers are not well versed in English and they should be trained intensively in preparation to take up the task. Who is supposed to educate who? Since they are more fluent in Bahasa Melayu, why bother go to the extreme to teach English? Forget it !

"6. Kebanyakan negara Afrika yang menggunakan bahasa Inggeris atau bahasa Perancis sebagai bahasa rasmi dan bahasa pendidikan, baik di peringkat menengah dan peringkat tinggi, mahupun di peringkat sekolah rendah, tidak maju sains dan teknologi. Negara Brunei Darussalam tidak menggunakan bahasa Melayu untuk mengajar sains dan matematik di sekolah menengah dan di universiti dan kita tahu negara itu tidak maju sains dan teknologi, yakni negara itu tidak sama taraf kemajuan sains dan teknologinya dengan negara seperti Jepun, Korea dan negara China atau Taiwan.

Korea Utara adalah negara kuasa nuklear. Negara itu tidak mengajar sains dalam bahasa Inggeris. Begitu juga, di Filipina, negara berbahasa Inggeris yang terbesar di Asia atau Asean, tidak menggunakan bahasa Filipina untuk mengajar sains dan matematik di sekolah menengah dan di peringkat pengajian tinggi, dan kita tahun negara itu tidak merupakan negara maju sains dan teknologi."

Why critisize countries like Brunei, Philippines and South Africa for not being able to be leaders in Science and Technology, because these countries used English? All those years when Bahasa Melayu was used before the new implementation, were there any breakthrough in Science and Technology in Malaysia by a Malaysian? I don't think so.

Don't compare with Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, yes they do not use English in the education system but they are the super powers today because they have the best education system and the best are kept within. There are fair competitions, the best gets the best spot in the universities. You work hard you get rewards and incentives. Not like Malaysia, the qualified gets the boot and left hopeless to look for other alternatives. 

And you will be surprised how diligent they are in equipping themselves with English nowadays.

If it is about achieving goals, any language will do, as long as the education system is intact. But I have the opinion that we must emphasize on allocating the top students in our own universities no matter where they are from.  In this context, race and religion should not be discriminated at all cost. 

If someone in the Ministry of Education opening say , "Learn in Bahasa Melayu in all subjects and if you score well in your exams, you have equal chance like the bumiputras to enter local universities with the same scholarships provided by the government without any discrimination.", what do you think will happen?

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