Scrapping of the PPSMIPosted: July 9, 2009
To me, it’s not so much the scrapping of an existing policy, but more like the reversion of a good policy with bad implementation, to a bad policy with probably equally bad implementation.
How else could I understand the decision that was made by the Malaysian government?
The teaching of Maths and Science in English started in 2003. Now the decision to revert back to teaching the two subjects in BM is to start in 2012. And it doesn’t take a maths genius to see that there is only a 9 year gap in between.
Is 9 years all it takes to see success of a policy that was put in place to stop the downward trend of the English language in Malaysia?
Let’s put it this way. I was always supportive of teaching Maths and Science in English. I’ve always thought that though it doesn’t really matter much what language one teaches or learns Maths, Science is a subject that is constantly being renewed and reviewed. New material is always coming out, and learning Science in English allows exposure to these kinds of material.
Sure, students in Primary One are not going to be needing this extra information and material any time soon. But it prepares them for it. They are equipped with a better understanding, and it gives them a platform on which they can expand their knowledge, should they choose to.
But let’s say for example that all this didn’t matter. I still think that reverting the policy is a bad decision. If not for any other reason but that it creates a whole lot of confusion.
When we first started the PPSMI, it was quite chaotic. We didn’t quite know how it was going to happen, and I think the teachers themselves were equally confused and anxious about teaching in English. But I think the general idea that people got from the implementation of the PPSMI was that our standard of English was dropping, and that something had to be done to stop that downward spiral to nowhere.
If there was nothing else to be gained from the PPSMI in the past 6 years, at least we understood that English was important, and that we had to buck up.
Now, by reverting the policy, what message is the Ministry trying to send out?
Maybe some teachers will be relieved to hear about this decision. I knew of teachers who would dread going into the classroom because their command of English was worse than some of the students in class.
But instead of saying that it’d be better for our children to learn Maths and Science in BM because the teachers are better equipped to teach in that language, isn’t it more important to ask why our teachers are not capable of constructing a proper sentence in English, much less teach their subject in English?
What reason can there be for us as a nation to choose to do the easy thing, instead of the right thing?
Will it take another batch of local graduates to make the headlines because they can’t spell ‘twelve’ before we come to realise (again!) that our education system is falling faster and faster down the slippery slope?
Will this policy be re-reverted back to teaching in English in another 12 years from now?
Will our education system remain forever at this sub-standard?
Where are we going from here?
Postscript: I can’t help but wonder which lucky person is in-charge of publishing the new textbooks.
Postscript #2: Read also de minimis HERE. Like him, I too do not buy their “this is not a political decision” talk, because it blatantly is.
Postscript #3: Read also Patricia’s take HERE. She thinks the decision to revert back to teaching Maths and Science in BM is the correct one, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it. And I can understand why.