If the primary and secondary school system can go cold turkey with the conduct of lessons in English, I cannot understand it when universities need to implement a snail-paced policy of conversion of Mathematics and Science programmes to English - with the most convenient excuse being the students are not ready for it.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Mohd Salleh Mohd Yasin said that because of various constraints, implementation would be gradual.However, a survey of several undergraduates in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), UKM and Universiti Malaya reveal that "some lecturers' English is so weak that what they say is practically incomprehensible", the lecturers were politely requested to teach in the national language instead.
“Our target is to have at least 30% of the first-year Maths and Science degree programmes in English, gradually increasing to 50% and then 100%. It was never going to be entirely in English from the beginning as our students come from various backgrounds.”
At the start of the first semester, students had asked two lecturers to teach in English, but their command of the language was so poor that the students implored them to revert to Bahasa. “We couldn’t understand half of what they said,” a student said.This probably relates back to one of the criticisms by Dr Ng Swee Choon blogged here earlier that the conduct of lectures in Bahasa Melayu instead of English for the medicine faculties is affecting the quality of the graduates as practically all materials and advances in medical science is published in the English language.
In my earlier post, it was reported that UPM had invested some RM1 million to train lecturers to conduct lessons in English as long as 3 years ago. It is clear that the outcome of the training appears to be ineffective.
I cannot understand how these lecturers were appointed in the first place as practically any credible masters or PhD degrees in science and mathematics from reputable universities around the world would have been conducted in English. It does present a fearful picture about the quality of lecturers we have at our local universities and their academic intellect - do they even read?
Maybe instead of passing the irrelevant civil service "Efficiency Level Assessment Test", as well as the new arbitrary "Standard of Academic Excellence Test" for university lecturers (blogged here), all lecturers and academics must pass the simple 'O' levels English test to determine recruitment and promotion prospects. And for those who don't obtain at least a 'D' - a pay cut!