Thursday, July 09, 2009

Science & Maths in BM Again II

Some on this blog has called for my comments on this issue. Some have even emailed me privately to "declare my stand". Well, I wrote on my Facebook early today a short note on my position, which I copy below. I've also taken the liberty to also include some of the 40+ comments on this issue so far in this post.
"Tony Pua hopes that schools in urban areas where the students, teachers and parents are keen to retain English as the medium for Maths and Science will be given a choice to opt out of the switch back to BM/BC, especially in secondary schools."
I've also made the following short comment to another Facebook friend who had asked the same:
"My stand is that PIBG should have a say/choice in the language use, particularly in urban areas where competency in English is already fairly high and in demand. You/we should push for this.

Rural areas can't help it, especially with teachers who can't even string a sentence together in English."
The above is my personal and public position which I will highlight in parliament. I've also written on the same in my Chinese column in Oriental Daily a few months back.

DAP's position, for those who are interested, is that urban national primary and secondary schools should be given a choice by the parents on the language to be used. Some have accused the party of staying silent on the issue. I beg to differ. Both Chong Eng, MP for Bukit Mertajam as well as the party Secretary-General, Lim Guan Eng has made the party's stand known for a while now. But if the press doesn't print (or print it often enough), there's little we can do.

Selected comments from my Facebook update:
  • Vivian Chiang at 10:13 on 09 July
    i totally agreed that ..hopefully

  • Bee Hui Chuah at 10:21 on 09 July
    yes... agree!!! especially secondary school!!! Education, is not Experiment!!!

  • Justin Wee at 10:22 on 09 July
    It's a silly thing to scrap of, the malay lingu 'experiment' was conducted ever since the early 70's, & it's almost 30 years project. For a mere less than 10 years project on english medium being scrap of, it's not a pronounced fair campaign

    We cant compare our so called 'looking at other nation', whereby the japanese still maintains their language, and the french themselves. but bare in mind that these nations have 'comparative advantage'.

    Japan has their advantages on technology, and the nation is a pioneer export to America, so they eventually 'do not have to worry on language', but anyways, they do learn english, but i bet their learning is WAY better then here itself... Read more

  • Kong Chia Yew at 10:25 on 09 July
    You should put this suggestion up to Parliament if you get a chance. Will be a pain in the ass for administrators of the policy but then the old maxim takes over "it'sfor the best of us"

  • Steven Fung at 10:29 on 09 July
    can they do that?

  • Lim Yong Keat at 10:31 on 09 July
    what is the ministry doing? we are not like Japan or US or Germany.

  • KhengTeong Goh at 10:32 on 09 July
    In a LOCAL university. Some of the lecturers allow us to answer in English although the questions were in BM. In final year, we are strongly encouraged to write our thesis in English. And our exam papers were in 2 languages, English and BM....

  • Eoh Teng Kor at 10:32 on 09 July
    why not creating english medium school for the option no 4. since we can allow "international school" , i dont see why we cannot have one more option.

  • Terrassie Lau at 10:40 on 09 July
    At the end of the day, for the younger generations, it is again ' head you win, tail I lose" We may soon ended up without english lessons too if the money spent do not generate good english teachers, in accordance to the DPM's silly statement. Just scrap english la.

  • See Hong at 10:48 on 09 July
    Actually good result not related wt language. Japanese, Germany, Italian, France ppl also not study in English, but today they still advanced country. It is the matter of education system. Correct way is study in mother language in Primary, English in Secondary. Since so good why need to wait another 3 yrs ? To prepare for the changes & objection of TDM ~ the idiot who initiate this plan few yrs ago ?

  • Felix Leong at 10:59 on 09 July
    Japan, Germany, Italy and France ARE PART OF G-7! They are the world's economic power house and their domestic markets are huge! What are we ???

  • Albert Tan at 11:00 on 09 July
    For those in Form 1 now should be allowed to use English in Form 4 and Form 5 in 2012 and 2014 so that continuity is maintained.

  • Claire Khoo at 11:05 on 09 July
    eh hello ... to implement immediately, where to find books? Excuse me, you wanna scold the gohmen also think before you scold can? its like the Dong Zong head who said we should implement this immediately. Buku mana nak cari? Guru mana nak cari? (I think our education system really failed, that's why obviously malaysians don't think before they comment.)

  • Leroy Ng at 11:13 on 09 July
    The decision is political and politically backward mindedness. Unfortunately PKR's Anwar Ibrahim and PAS support this decision. Why DAP kept silence b4 decision made?

  • Chin-Huat Wong at 11:21 on 09 July
    revive English schools as a form of mother tongue education!!!

  • JooLee Tan at 11:27 on 09 July
  • I believe that DAP is also in favour of this reversal. Tony, I think it's futile to even suggest an option that hasn't been discussed. Frankly, the whole exercise has been futile and our children and grandchildren will be paying the price for generations to come.

  • Eoh Teng Kor at 11:31 on 09 July
    Agreed with See Hong, it is about system. We just allow BM/BC/BT/English medium in Science and Math. Let parents have a choice/option. Let parents decide which is suitable for their kids...

  • Lillian Danielle Khoo at 11:36 on 09 July
    I am surprised the DAP was in favour of the reversal. Meanwhile UAE has just announced that they plan to teach Math & Science in English. http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090702/NATIONAL/707019852/1019

    It just seems like Malaysia is taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back in our education system. They made a good decision to make it compulsory in passing English - I couldn't believe that it was optional to pass in the first place. Then they decide to revert Math & Science back to BM. During my studies, I had the opportunity to share classes with ...

  • Cheryl Witha at 11:52 on 09 July
    what's new with the education system? Student have always been lab rats, they constantly change the system to suit whoever is currently in tht position(at their whim and fancy). It has always been absurd and still is. They never think things through, ever. What is to happen to our education system, I feel very sad as an educator..

  • Fok Kuk Fai at 12:00 on 09 July
    I agree with using mother tongue as teaching medium at the primary school level. But I strongly advocate to shift it to English medium in secondary school level and above. This is not only for enhancing English proficiency, but also for the future generations to easily access to the science and technology as well as social science knowledge pool ...

  • Juliana Yoong at 12:00 on 09 July
    What a shame! I totally agreed...

  • Cheryl Witha at 12:07 on 09 July
    I teach at college level and every batch that comes in..well most of them can't even speak English let alone write a simple application letter. What is to become of them in the future?

  • Chong Hou Yin at 12:22 on 09 July
    learn from singapore please, stupid najib

  • Joseph Ng Swee Wan at 12:28 on 09 July
    malaysia will be back to those 1970's day ...... we are going backward and not forward. let's see in the next 6 years, where are we heading? oh, maybe by then DPM wil be out of job and poor PR has to take over this baby and to answer to everyone for such absurd policy.

  • Ho Kok Kuan at 12:28 on 09 July
    All for PPSMI to be retained. Dual languge in primary, follow by full English in secondary school. Person will be fully equipped when leaving for uni/college.

  • Marsha Maung at 13:21 on 09 July
    YES PLEASE!! I am so sad with the switch to BM/Chinese!

  • Walinong Sari at 13:28 on 09 July
    No. Follow the MOE directive.

  • Alwin Lim at 13:38 on 09 July
    Havent we done enough damage to our brilliant childrens ?

  • Steven K C Poh at 13:58 on 09 July
    I'm bewildered by this news. We have a flip-flopping government that's playing Russian roulette with our children's future. What now? How can we stop this madness?

  • Lee Wei Jie at 14:02 on 09 July
    secondary schools should retain English as medium for Maths and Science so that pupils can have a bright future to study overseas and be linked to the world trend...it is good to switch back mother tongue for primary school level as it is a good way to build up the basis of children, let them hv a effective learning process and happy childhood...

  • Ooi Beng Sun at 14:21 on 09 July
    agreed with Lee Wei Jie. secondary students should be given the choice to choose the medium of instructions. we should not deprive our gifted students who are proficient in English acquire more knowledge to pursue their career. reverting to malay is like chaining our children with big stone, stop their progress, making them going backwards to the dinosaur age!!!

  • Daniel Hong Aan Lee at 14:22 on 09 July
    YB, I believe that Science&Maths for primary education should be taught in mother tongue (esp for SJK(C)/SJK(T)), however secondary schools should teach their science&maths in english, so that the Malaysian english teaching system will not deteriorate.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

best solution give parents freedom to send their children to BM or BI....habis cerita
It seems now it is the teachers more scared of teaching BI rather than student trying to learn in BI

I giuess while other countries moved forward in evolution we go retro.... :)

ben said...

Tony,

That's the most sensible proposition.

SJKC for Mandarin, SK for BM, SJKT for Tamil and SJK(I) for English. Everyone will have a menu to choose and nothing to quarrel.

Govt must stop "I know best" mentality and let the rakyats choose!

Anonymous said...

I support your idea of preventing this change from being a one-size-fits-all solution. The main problem is the disparity in our education system. Some schools have better teachers who can actually teach science and maths in English and students with sufficient grasp of the language to learn in English.

Some schools do not have enough Maths and Science teachers who can teach their subjects effectively in English. Others may also face the problem of a student body which, on average, has poor command of the English language to begin with.

So let the schools who can teach Science and Maths in English do so, and do not force the rest to follow blindly. It is better that these students learn these subjects in a language they can understand rather than not learn them at all.

Unfortunately, there is still the problem of widening the disparity between our students. To alleviate not solve) this problem, the papers should still be bilingual and more resources should be channeled to improving English standards in schools with less resources, especially at the primary school level.

Mark said...

DPM said to improve English, they will be hiring additional 14,000 English teachers. Aiyah DPM, you should just hire 1,000 good professional English teachers to tutor all the current teachers. Or maybe just send to British Council for weekly classes. Imagine in order to screw a nail into the wall, it took 100 strong men. One to hold the nail and 99 to turn the wall!!!

kopisoh said...

I am tired of a generation of Malaysians who are not able to speak coherently because they just never learnt properly either in Malay or English or Chinese so they come out with some garbled mangled form of communication with bad spelling and wrong words and horrible grammar - does not matter written or spoken!

Anonymous said...

Pathetic.Very pathetic indeed.
That is the right words to describe you all Malaysians.

Squabble over which language to teach nerd's knowledge.

What a hilarious scene!!

Over here in good old USA, most American parents want their children to attend Ivy League universities' business schools and law schools.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see that Malaysia still that naive (or should i say childish??) Everyone is going forward but shame to say that now we are going backward again..and not sure how many times Malaysia has been switching back and forth from English to BM and BM to English.. The future of young generations are at stake!!
Grown up Malaysia!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mr Pua, can you link this to your readers? http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=9267&uid=111867330571#/group.php?gid=111867330571

Anonymous said...

In Malaysia we have a group of people who debate and talk sensibly on every issue, education being one of them.
But do they carry any weight?

You and I know that English is the way to go. You and I know that meritorcray is the way to go. But what can you and I do?

Tony Pua, as a member of parliament, what can YOU do??

Are we going to blog and comment in blogs for the next 10, 20 ways while our children waste their youth on educational policies that do not make them better equipped to excel in this world?

What can you, my Member or Parliament do?? If you can't do anything, what do think I can do??? Can you imagine my despair?

Do I have to send my children overseas like some people do? Break up the family (mother go overseas with kids, father stay behind to earn money) so that they get a progressive education?

Please tell me, Mr MP!

Anonymous said...

Why you have to change Maths and Science in BM? Is it ok to teach these subjects in English? I think you made a BAD...... decition to make these subjects to BM, think our FUTURE....

Anonymous said...

In a world's economy dominated by capitalism, one needs to know that in order to climb out and advance in social ladder, one must follow the Americans' way.

Be good-looking or very pretty and sexy, charming, artistic talents or strong, muscular with athletic prowess, smooth talker with strong persuasion skill or having a sharp tongue and most importantly, be cunning.

All the human's characteristics as mentioned above, are God's most precious blessings to humanity.

One certainly does not need science and math in order to become successful in life.

Daddy Parenting Tips said...

My daughter is less than 2 years old and she can understand both English and Japanese, and later will introduce Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese.

http://daddyparentingtips.blogspot.com/2009/07/tip-161-reading-in-both-languages.html

I can't see why we cannot take 1 step forward to integrate the BM textbooks few years back with the current English science and maths text books. Its a lot of effort, but why move backward instead of forward. We can allow students to use either English or BM to answer in the exams as long as the maths and science principles are correct.

Some good will surely come out of the dialectics at work between both languages instead of choosing either one. We need new advancements. We need Malaysia Boleh. Not some power struggle between languages.

When will Malaysia advance and not hold on to race and language as stumbling blocks but embrace our differences as advantages?

Disappointed said...

I must express my disappointment that the MP of my area, PJ Utara has not taken decisive action on this core issue, our children's education. Blogging and stating his position is not enough. As an elected representative of an urban Msian community, he should walk the talk of representing us and take this up rigorously. Unfortunately DAP has also now remained pretty passive as the other PR alliance parties has chosen the same stand of using BM for maths and science. In many senses, DAP had become the MCA of BN, ie compromise for the sake of the alliance. I gave my vote to Mr Phua because I believed that he will fight to represent the community on the right things. I am not so sure now, he will perhaps have to get elected next time without my vote.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 8.05 pm

Just look carefully and scrutinize Mr.Tony P's education credentials.

Do you see the "Singapore factor" there that make him who he is right now?

He is owned by "Puak Cina Kapitalis Singapura".

Satish said...

To satisfy the minority, BN is going to get a whacking from the majority.

Simon H said...

Whatever the decision made, it does not spell all doom. Parents, forget about the episode if it's not going to bring about any change. Give that attention to the more deserving ones, your kids. You'd be surprised how much a bit of home schooling would help. I personally don't agree with such policy but better moving on than dwell on the issue. Your children will still make it in life with YOUR guidance & love.

Mark said...

After thinking about it these my anger is so bad after all and I agree with you Simon. We have to move on and plan ahead for our kids.

As we speak English at home, it will actually not really affect us. We could still buy science and maths books in english for our kids to read at home.

In fact changing to BM will enhance us to be better in our national language. Presently the standard of BM lessons are set way too high to encourage any learning of BM.

Mark said...

Sorry, I mean to say 'After thinking about it these pass few days, my anger is NOT so bad after all....'

Anonymous said...

Kian Ming,

Think you have probably blogged on this issue countless times, but since now that a decision is finally out, think you should blog again on your views just to round this one up, now that Tony has done so.

Hisham said...

Hey Tony,

You should learn from Hishammudin :p

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/7/16/nation/4326714

"Hishammuddin said he had to personally look at each application before the decision whether to approve or not was made"


So hardworking...as if there's no functioning civil servants under him.

eva said...

It is no use we talk so much when no action is taken by you guys. We vote you guys to voice our predicaments in the Parliament.
Leave education to the schools/parents & children/PIBG to decide which language and 1Malaysia should give people options to choose.
Right now looks like their objective is to ask the urban schools to sacrifice for the rural schools for them to catch up and be at par with the urban sch.then they would switch again to English. Can the urban schools afford to make such sacrifice? Are we going to be suppress oppress and intimidated again for the next 50 yrs? Are we going be keep quiet again and let them ruin our education system and children's future again? Pls. protest b4 it is too late. Do not mix education with politics.Sure kaput one lah.
Education is under the jurisdiction of schools parents and children not the Ministers,they have no right to decide for the parents on what is best for our children. They should be more user friendly & people friendly by giving options and choices to the people.1Malaysia is supossed to be people friendly right?But it looks like it is not, it is in disguise and no more frindly after 100 days!it is more like 1Bahasa,1Bangsa,1Agama,1MakananHalal,1Sekolah,1Baju,1Kulitfication,1Policy,1Agenda,1Dictator(as we perceived it now)

Anonymous said...

PR, please ask them this:

Singapore has been using English for ALL subjects (minus Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, languages) since their education started.

USA and UK are IMPORTING Singapore textbooks to use in their schools. Will this move to change our teaching every few years get us the same recognition by USA and UK?

Amir said...

As I mentioned before the failed policy are due to opposition from political parties and DAP is one of the MAIN CULPRITS and sections of PAS/UMNO/PKR included.

As a teacher you can't teach in this condition of uncertainty, and the political parties should shoulder the blame and not start pointing fingers just to win votes (DAP statement in this blog is just an example of the finger pointing).

In my point of view the education that is provided by the government must be EQUAL to all, either in rural or urban areas. Both in term of quality and quantity.

If one require special treatment, then go to private schools.

shinliang said...

this is one of the issues that i do not see eye to eye with DAP.

1. teaching english in urban areas and BM in rural areas will only widen the gap between the rich and poor (assuming that english is superior, this is why people are advocating for English, isn't it?)

2. while every one has the right to learn a subject in their preferred language, it is undoubtedly true that using the same language will actually HELP in uniting different ethnics. It will reduce one differentiating factor, but at other expenses. What I am trying to say is that this issue with teaching medium is not as clear-cut as other educational issues.

3. teaching subjects in English still will not go well with Dong Zong. Chinese schools, will still advocate the use of Mandarin as the main medium of teaching.

4. I disagree in seeing education for solely economical reasons.

In reply to one of the selected comments from your facebook: No, it's impossible that Japan has better English education than us!

Anonymous said...

We have many things go wrong in the Malaysian education system, but the biggest problem is the lack of accomodating different learning modes and language instructions allowed.
The argument that all the kids should go through the same language and instruction process to attain unity is total nonsense. Look at EU. In a country, we should aim at developing the potential of every citizen and help them to be the best in what they do, so that we can compete as a country. The politicians and the self appointed self righteous have no right to ruin our kids' and country's future.
Having multiple choice for the students and parents also reduces the impact of policy mistake by these people.
I hope these people are not advocating that if one child is abused, we should abuse every child to make it fair, so that every one has the same experience to promote unity.
Let the English school come back, let them compete with the Chinese, National and Tamil schools. If you are that good, you should be able to compete.
I would support using the mother tongue in primary schools to teach science and math, but switch to English after primary school so that students have time to adjust. In a systems where different streams are allowed, we can decide on what is best for us and our kids.

Frank

thnaraj said...

hi there my name is raj i was the first batch where the English was brought in English and it gives a better understanding and it's useful as well cause when it comes a student's going higher level they will be taught in English why don't they begin it right now i would prefer science and English in mathematics and science tq

Anonymous said...

Malaysians,

It has come to my attention that there is an eminent subculture where the poorer and underprivileged people are unable to converse or write in English. Conversely, the people with upper class social standings are fluent in the language.

Making this decision will turn the tables around, if it is not already turned now.

I believe that this will further encourage the gap between the rich and the poor to be more evident. Basically, the poor gets poorer and the rich gets richer.

Currently, Malaysia is living a substandard quality of life, which means that poor legal rights, poor education system, poor infrastructure and poor people. That will be your impending fate if the basic, fundamentals are not changed. The future of the country is through the young. What will happen when even our future leaders are not able to fluently speak English? Why are many governmental figures send their children overseas to study? It will be hard, almost impossible to achieve 1st world country status by the year 2020 this way.

In my cry to Malaysians, open your eyes and save yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Making English such a big deal really stinks.

It is just a tool. If we are serious about English, we should start immediately, everyone, together.

Adults first, English training on the job! Night school, adult classes, whatever.

Putting learning only to school children only is so 19th century. We need change, NOW!

In schools, forget about the language first, emphasize on learning!

Look at class sizes, library, textbooks, teacher training, method of instructions, ..all more important than this stupid English issue. Imagine we still have double session schools 52 years after Merdeka.

Makes me sick that people are chasing their own tails running in circles.

Hafiz Khairuddin said...

honestly, for those who are against PPSMI, i have only one thing to say. never mind if you all want to condemn me or not. this is my true opinion, based o what dr. Mahathir said:

WHY MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO CONDEMN PPSMI @ ETEMS ARE THE ONES WHO ARE ENGLISH EDUCATED AND CAN SPEAK ENGLISH FLUENTLY? DON'T YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN/FUTURE GENERATIONS TO BE LIKE YOU ALL AS WELL? IT'S NOT THAT WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE THEM FORGET THEIR MOTHER TONGUE. BAHASA MELAYU, CHINESE AND TAMIL ARE STILL BEING TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS. THOSE ARE THE IMPORTANT SUBJECTS. ENGLISH, AS WE ALL KNOW IS THE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE WHEREBY THE WHOLE WORLD USE IT TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER. SO, PLEASE, DON'T CONDEMN WHAT TUN DR. MAHATHIR HAD DONE. HE'S NOT TRYING TO MAKE THE PEOPLE OF MALAYSIA LESS PATRIOTIC, BUT HE'S PREPARING THEM (INCLUDING ME) TO FACE THE FUTURE WHERE ENGLISH IS THE MAIN LANGUAGE TO COMMUNICATE. BUSINESS, POLITICS WITH OTHER NATIONS AND SO MUCH MORE ARE USING ENGLISH AS THE COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE. SO, PLEASE...

ALSO, AS THE ARTICLE IN THE STAR HAD SAID: "WE ARE SPEAKING MANGLISH, NOT ENGLISH." WHY? THE "LA" & "LOR" ARE ALWAYS IN OUR ENGLISH SENTENCES. "BAH" IS ALSO PRESENT IN OUR DAILY CONVERSATION. WHICH IS WHY DR. MAHATHIR WANTS US TO IMPROVE OUR ENGLISH SO THAT WE WON'T USE "MANGLISH" WHEN WE SPEAK OR COMMUNICATE WITH FOREIGNERS AND TOURISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. HEY, EVEN THE FRENCH (FROM THOSE WHO I'VE TALKED TO) SPEAKS ENGLISH FLUENTLY, EVEN THOUGH THEIR FRENCH ACCENT IS STILL THERE. SO, WHY CAN'T WE BE LIKE THEM?

SERIOUSLY, IT MAKES ME SAD. I WAS THE "GUINEA PIG" FOR THE PPSMI PROJECT, AND I GOT PERFECT RESULTS. TRUTHFULLY, STUDYING MATHS AND SCIENCE IN ENGLISH IS MUCH EASIER THAN IN MALAY. IN ENGLISH, IT IS MUCH EASIER TO UNDERSTAND SINCE THE TERMS USED ARE IN ENGLISH. SO, WHY CHANGE TO MOTHER TONGUE? MALAY LANGUAGE, CHINESE AND TAMIL FOR MATHS AND SCIENCE? MALAY, I CAN SAY IT'S OKAY BUT CHINESE AND TAMIL? THAT WOULD MAKE IT MUCH WORSE FOR OUR FUTURE GENERATION!

Anonymous said...

The advantage with using English for science or non-"Malaysian" subjets is the abundance of resources that are reader-friendly be online or in print. Malaysian textbooks are extremely dry, boring, academic and not child-friendly. While some teachers have left teaching to tuition schools, the consciencious ones struggle daily just to get the class of 30-40 restless teenagers under control.

However many students there are who face problem learning in English, don't penalise others who can cope. Why can't we have bi-lingual option at the secondary level if students and parents request for Science and Maths in English, and schools have teachers who can handle? Don't make better education equate to private schools. Education is a fundamental right and every child should get the best towards achieving his dream. I was from a Chinese independent (secondary) school. My science and maths teachers conducted lessons in Chinese using English technical terms and we used English textbook and did tests in English. I also had a good English teacher who gave me sound foundation in grammar. It worked out fine for me and my classmates. I was able to choose whether to further education in a Chinese-speaking or English-speaking country.

Why can't our students choose? why inhibit them if they and the respective schools can manage?

Mudah said...

Science and Maths to be taught in English is better IMHO, but consider that teachers teaching quality in English in rural area, BM is not too bad.

Ang said...

be pleasure to visit my blog and announce to all form 5 student.

tricon-ang.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

seriously looks like Malaysian teachers are afraid of teaching English.. Oh my.. I can't imagine how will it be like when Malaysians communicate with foreigners... :< I'm a Form 3 student now, I know my I can't speak very fluent English yet,that's why I have to improve! Do more, learn more. Changing our subjects to BM so that all of the students can get A's in SPM isn't a right thing to do. It's meaningless that way. We should improve, not running away from English. International language is important, we have to communicate with the world outside. We can't be frogs under the well.