PPSMI – Are the shoes of an Education Minister in Malaysia too big for Muhyiddin?

Umno Youth Leader, Khairy Jamaluddin admitted in an interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh yesterday that Malaysia should be a A+ country but it could only manage a C!

This is because of decades of Barisan Nasional bad governance and misguided policies which fail to fully exploit the human and natural resources of the country for the national good so as to be able to continuously upgrade our international competitiveness to better position the country to face the challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology.

A good illustration is the disastrous PPSMI (Teaching Science and Mathematics in English) decision making guinea pigs of some four million Malaysian pupils whether in the national, Chinese or Tamil primary schools in the past six years for “a cure which is worse than the disease”!

Have we got in Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin a new Education Minister who has the political will and professional competence to undo the six-year damage from these unprofessional educational experiments to lead the Malaysian education system to a new era of professionalism, excellence and global status?

Muhyiddin has to convince Malaysians that he has these qualities to be a better Education Ministers than his predecessors, particularly the Education Ministers responsible for the PPSMI programme, like former Education Ministers Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and Datuk Musa Mohamad or even former Education Ministers in the past four decades which included three former Prime Ministers Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah and the present Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Are the shoes of an Education Minister in Malaysia too big for Muhyiddin?

I ask this question because of the shocking self-admission by Muhyiddin in May that he did not know that English is not a “must pass” subject for SPM – which shows that education had never been very close to his heart, although he was not an Education Minister until the Najib Cabinet reshuffle!

Furthermore, Muhyiddin was one of the leading advocates of UMNO for PPSMI in 2002, defending the proposal with the half-baked argument that many countries in the world, including China, Japan, Korea and France were turning to English as it could help them to progress – showing his inability to understand the reasons for the opposition to PPSMI in national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools by parents and teachers from all the major races in the country.

In 2002 I had asked whether PPSMI was meant to raise English fluency or maths and science proficiency among Malaysian students – and I contended that PPSMI was not the answer to the challenges of either raising English standards or uplifting maths and science proficiency among Malaysians students.

Muhyiddin has proved critics of PPSMI since 2002 right, as he said last month that a study conducted by the Education Ministry and researchers from local universities revealed that the teaching of maths and science in English in the last six years had not improved the performance of students in those subjects.

There have been changes but the difference is “nominal” – a two to three per cent change since the policy was implemented in 2003!

Can such “nominal” change, not to mention the downside of the experiment, the money, time and national energy (particularly in the national divisiveness it creased in the country) expended on PPSMI in the past six years?

The Barisan Nasional has taken 30 years to find out that its ill-considered abolition of the English stream of education has undermined Malaysia’s international competitiveness and jeopardized the country’s future prosperity and welfare. It has taken 20 years to discover that its 3M system had failed ensure that school schoolchildren could all acquire the three basic educational fundamentals of 3Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic.

Do we have to take a decade for the policy makers to concede that PPSMI is a disastrous educational experiment which failed to achieve the objectives of raising English fluency as well as maths and science proficiency among national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools?

The challenge before Muhyiddin and the Najib Cabinet is whether they are capable of undoing the damage of the six-year PPSMI experiment and come up with a new educational approach which could achieve the dual objectives of raising English fluency as well as maths/science proficiency of Malaysian students, regardless of race or educational stream.

This new educational package must contain the following elements:

  1. Admit that the educationally unsound PPSMI is a failure because educational experience on bilingual education worldwide in the past three decades have shown that using a second language as a medium of instruction from too early stages can impede the development of thinking skills of children resulting in low achievement in mathematics, science and languages – powerful educational arguments against the use of English to teach maths and science from Std. One. This argument does not apply for children whose home language is the English language or a total immersion education system is adopted with English as medium of instruction.
  2. Flexibility in dealing with the problems of the different-medium primary schools. National and Tamil primary schools face the problem of student attainment in all three subjects, i.e. English, maths and science while Chinese primary school pupils face the problem of English proficiency. There should not be a “One Size Fits All” solution, which is why I had suggested in 2002 that the nine additional periods prescribed for Chinese primary schools should all be devoted to teaching the English language, which would have resulted in higher attainments of Chinese primary school students in all three subjects – which clearly was not what the Education Ministry wanted.
  3. One important approach to raise English proficiency among Malaysian students is to make English a compulsory subject for SPM. If this had been done in 2002, with the Education Ministry working backwards in the past six years to build up on the infrastructure of teaching and learning English in all primary schools, students would have acquired greater fluency in English today.
  4. In keeping with a flexible approach which is not tied down to a “One Size Fits All”, there should be choice for parents to pick the type of education they want for their children – including having classes or schools using English as medium for instruction for mathematics and science. Six years ago, Mahathir broached the idea of the possibility of the government re-introduction of the English-medium school system to arrest the decline of the standard of English. This proposal should be seriously revisited by the Cabinet, Parliament and the Malaysian public.

The Cabinet should not delay any further to undo the six-year “cure worse than disease” PPSMI using four million schoolchildren as guinea-pigs by substituting it with an educationally sound, professional and acceptable programme to raise standards of English, maths and science of all students to pave the way for Malaysia to regain our international competitiveness in the global arena.

  1. #1 by the reds on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 1:16 pm

    It would be better for Muhyiddin to go back to his old portfolio as Minister of Agriculture!

    It is a disaster for us, if he keeps serving as Education Minister! With his competency, we do not expect him to bring education development for us.

  2. #2 by taiking on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 1:21 pm

    Look. It has been 50 yrs and our umno gobermen still cannot see that they have failed in almost every thing they did for the country. Some actually thought that they have done a wonderful job. If so we would be on par with Korea, Taiwan and HK (I did not mention singapore on purpose. So there. No need to panic for those of you who are striken with singaphobia) and not some african nations. And look here. Muhideed recently expressed his surprise that school kids are not taught english grammer. His surprise came 30+ yrs late.

    So you see umno is like a dinasaur. A slow moving giant.

  3. #3 by Loh on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 1:56 pm

    The former Education Minister Kerismuddin could not be so ignorant as not to realise that the policy by TDM for the teaching of science and mathematics in English in primary schools was detrimental to the students. He might have waited for TDM to end his influence to switch back. But longevity of the wrong person could be harmful to the nation.

    Muhyiddin is now caught between doing right and repaying gratitude for where he is now. Again God does not make it easy for him.

    UMNO current leaders knew the harm of the system set by TDM before his departure. The have not the gut to end it.

  4. #4 by Loh on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 2:03 pm

    Sorry off-topic
    From chedet.co.cc
    Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
    on July 6, 2009 5:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

    ///1. I am gratified that so many Singaporeans know minute details regarding the price of water (raw and treated) and the negotiations that took place.

    2. True, I did not negotiate successfully the increase of the 3 sen per 1000 gallons of raw water. You know why? If we demand an increase to 6 sen (100%), Singapore would increase the treated water price to RM1.00 (100%). Of course if we increase to RM6.00 Singapore would demand an increase to 50 x 2000% = RM100.00.///– TDM

    In other words it was better to allow the price of 3 sen per 1000 gallons of raw water to remain. Why then does TDM raise the issue over and over and over again?

    TDM tries to show that Singapore was unreasonable, but the example was not convincing.

    ///3. Yes, Malaysia profited by buying treated water at 50 sen. Malaysia’s entitlement was only 12% of the raw water it sold to Singapore. The cost of treatment is not RM2.40 as alleged. It was only RM1.20. However, since the Singapore dollar has appreciated against the Malaysian Ringgit from being at par to RM2.40, the same cost to Singapore would now be about 2.4 times the original RM1.20.///–TDM

    The legal tender in Singapore is of course the Singapore Dollar, and the cost of production will have to be based on its local currency. The fact that Singapore currency appreciates says that it is advantages to its population when they spend their currency outside the country. That would not be based on the so called PPP (purchasing power parity) which only allows poorer country to fell good after inflating their GDP numbers with local price level factored into it.

    ///4. By the same token, when Singapore pays 3 sen to Malaysians, in Singapore dollars it is only 0.42 sen (less than 1 sen for 1000 gallons).///– TDM

    That is the advantage of strong currency. Not only raw water from Malaysia is cheap, imports are cheap too, and that is why the ordinary Singaporeans have a comparatively higher standard of living compared to her northern neighbour.

    ///5. At the original cost agreed upon Malaysia benefited by 70 sen per 1000 gallons of treated water but only on 12% of the raw water sold.

    6. Assuming that Malaysia sells 100 million gallons to Singapore, it would pay RM3,000. Malaysia’s purchase of 12,000,000 gallons would be RM6,000. Despite the discount, Malaysia would have to pay Singapore RM6,000 while Singapore would pay Malaysia RM3,000. It looks like Singapore would pay Malaysia with the money it earns from selling water to Malaysia and still have money to spare.///–TDM

    That arithmetic would be correct if it costs Singaporean nothing to treat redirect the raw water, and they become processed water without further efforts. But a figure of RM 2.40 per 1000 gallons of water put in by Singapore has not feathered in the above calculations.

    That is the logic applied by TDM. To him non-Malay Malaysians become successful without efforts; they are what they are just by being non-Malays.

    ///7. The negotiations failed because Singapore wanted more water beyond 2060. We could not agree to commit the future generations of Malaysians to something that could be to their disadvantage.///– TDM

    But TDM and the succeeding PMs are happy to squander the earnings by Petronas even though oil is diminishing asset, and drying up soon.

    ///8. The price of treated water to the citizens of Singapore is very high compared to the 0.42 of one sen paid by Singapore for 1000 gallons plus the cost of treatment.///– TDM

    Yes, Singaporeans are trained not to waste water. They have now succeeded not to renew the contract that ended in 2011 which TDM was sure that they would come begging for it. The difficult stand Malaysia adopted on its abundant water supplies has placed them to create water technology that they are able to duplicate in the Middle East and elsewhere. The water that does not go to Singapore after 2011 is helping to dilute sea water around Singapore and making water desalination activities more efficient. Of course the income forgone in raw water is negligible to the income from oil. Why then is TDM flogging the dead horse?

    ///9. It is clear that for every day the water agreement remains in place, the Singapore Government stands to gain a huge sum of money from selling water to the people of Singapore.///–TDM
    Water to the country is like blood to the body. They will have the moral ground to fight for its supply, fighting in any sense. The Singapore government could not be said to be rich because they sold water as monopoly.

    ///10. By 2011 the first agreement would lapse. But the second agreement would lapse only in 2060. Singapore can enjoy 0.42 of one cent per 1000 gallons for another 51 years.///–TDM

    Singapore leader then would deal with either Malaysia under non-BN rule or a new government who succeeded in making all Malaysians second class citizens. It would be 1Malaysia for its people, and master administrators from foreign power.

    ///11. Since the present Malaysian Government has generously decided to stop discussions with Singapore on all outstanding issues, Singapore would continue to benefit from all the outstanding issues with Malaysia. Yet Malaysia willingly gave up its naval base at Woodlands without asking for any compensation for the facilities owned by Malaysia there.///– TDM

    Malaysia is hoping that Singapore would participate in its Iskandar project, and with that foreign funds might find encouragement. The PMs after TDM are wiser. Indeed if not for TDM’s inferiority complex, the water agreement would have been made a win-win solution. Johore water does not have to flow towards the sea around Singapore.

    ///12. Lee Kuan Yew is right. By Malaysian Government’s consent Malaysia is Singapore’s hinterland and subject to Singapore Government’s largesse. Singaporeans need not worry. You will continue to pay 0.42% of 1 sen for 1000 gallons of raw water until 2060. It is Malaysia’s gift to Singapore.///–TDM

    Water is only one of the functions where Malaysia is treated as hinterland. Human resources are next. But if not for Singapore receiving Malaysian talents, the resentment against the BN government would be a force to reckon with. That might have spurred the BN government to undertake reforms while it could. As it was, Singapore ‘s acceptance of our human resources allows BN to remain stagnant and rots. Was that Singapore’s gift to Malaysia?

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 2:12 pm

    You only need one reason to understand why PPSMI is a bad idea – it came from Mahathir. A true Dr. M original which are almost always half baked. If you look back, any of Dr. M’s idea which is worth something was never truly his – opening up to foreign investment, privatisation etc. they were never really his ideas. When it comes to his idea that are 100% is own – Perwaja, proton, toll roads, etc, they all ended up disastrous…

    Having said that, let me say this – teaching Math and Science in whatever languange, should be a choice for Parents and Teachers should make, NOT the govt. English is Native to a lot of us…

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 2:24 pm

    Oh, just forget / ignore TDMM. His memory of things is just suspect. Remember the Lingam case? “I cannot remember” he said about 20 or so times. Now he writes all this rubbish.

    His mind if full of “sand, water, air space, crooked bridge…” nothing else. He just has alot of chips on his shoulders and so he needs to fire off now and then. Else no one will notice him. He was very upset when AAB did not appoint him Senior Minister or Minister Mentor with a seat in the Cabinet so he frus. So just ignore him lah. He’s just a novelty now. Let him be.

  7. #7 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 2:34 pm

    The fastest way is to LOOK SOUTH and learn all we can from GREAT SINGAPORE, but I doubt we have the brain to do so, because all the remaining brains that we have left are too stupid, being built on “CLUTCHES” for the past donkey years uner NEP.

  8. #8 by taiking on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 3:17 pm

    oi johnnypok, dont ask umnoputras and umno supporters to look south. It makes them dizzy. They have this thing called singaphobia. Tell those silly fellas to look north instead. Yes tell them to look at taiwan, korea and hk. Between suffering a pain their neck and an outburst of their singaphobic emotions, they obviously prefer the former. But that is perfectly us ok as far as we are concerned. Makes not a difference. Whether it is singapore or any one of the three countries/places up north, comparison is still the same.

    So bear this in mind. Singaphobia will trigger severe reactions from the sufferer and will cause the sufferer to lose all his sense, logic and control over his mental faculty. For instance they may tell you JB is safer than singapore or Uitm produces better phD researchers than NUS and NTU or our education system in the best in the world. I wonder if singaphobia has anything to do with umno’s (-)meritocracy system.

  9. #9 by Loh on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 3:26 pm

    ///So just ignore him lah. He’s just a novelty now. Let him be.///–sheriff singh

    When TDM was the PM, he did what he pleased without having to assign reasons. He chooses to expound his theory and reasons now. He should be made to read other points of view, which hopefully would trouble him, though he is not expected to change his mind.

    There are still a lot of people who would believe whatever TDM says. I hope his followers learn to think when they read comments from others.

    I hope to read more comments on his writing at this blog.

  10. #10 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 3:41 pm

    Since the majority are born stupid and “handicapped”, even the best teacher cannot help them, and we will forever be backward. The situation is made worst by a bunch of corrupted leaders who virtually robbed whatever hope the people have. Where is God and where are the lightnings and thunder to punish the sinners?

  11. #11 by rubini on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 3:54 pm

    The stupids don’t have a clue what to do. They are only interested in contracts.

  12. #12 by chengho on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 5:43 pm

    convert all sek kebangsaan to sek keb ( inggeris ) like in the ’70 and ’80 , vernacular school can stay as it is ….

  13. #13 by imranj78 on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 - 11:23 pm

    we need to uplift and improve sek kebangsaan; plus provide options for students to learn whatever third language they wish. vernacular schools should be closed or converted to sek kebangsaan as this alternative education streams breeds disunity within our society! also there should not be any bumi only schools. all schools shall be open to all and belong to only one single stream i.e. sek kebangsaan.

  14. #14 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 - 12:37 pm

    Hi johnnypok,please be careful when you speak of God Almighty.We human can judge among ourselves but we should never judge GOD as He’s our creator.I know you are angry and I’m on your side but I’m calm.Assumming you are a Sabahan too,we are all pretty disappointed with our local politicians/leaders for openly seeing most of our treasures being robbed by Umno and not doing anything at all to stop them.If you are of my age,you would say we were better of then,than now.In another word,we were free,rich,happy and united before Malaysia but now we are angry because we have lost most of our freedom,our wealth,our happiness and our unity.Let us pray and hope GOD Almighty will listen to our prayer,will guide us and lead us to a new bright path after the 13th GE.

  15. #15 by johnnypok on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 - 2:37 pm

    There is no God. Our mind = GOD

  16. #16 by MGR1940 on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 - 3:59 pm

    I had only Form II education in 1957 under the old English system and took up an apprentice course and started working here and there all this while and now drawing a 5 figure pay. At that time the umno putra’s were attending bahasa melayu schools which had only 6 years of education.I did not take much intrest in in bahasa melayu which was thought for 1/2 hr every week in my school noor have had to use it in all jobs till now even though I speak bahasa melayu asof those days (1945-1957).

    Can anybody please explane what is Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Kebangsan and Bahasa Malaysia? Every time you watch the prime news in TV the bahasa has nearly more than 40% English words.There are so many basic words which any civilaised race should have is beeing used with English words.It was understood before that only Technical and Science words were to borrowed……Now what is the problem in teaching Science and Mahts. in English?….Afterall the life style of umno putra now is 90% English.

  17. #17 by shadowx on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 - 10:07 pm

    I am the first batch student who went through PPSMI program back in 2003 when I am in Form 1. I don’t understand why the government want to reverse it back to teaching Maths and Science in Malay language?

    I know rural area are facing tough time in understanding the language but can we enhance our quality of teacher instead of abandoning millions of ringgit that the government spent for PPSMI.

    PPSMI personally helped me thoroughly as I am able to understand all my lessons now in university without any problem because my basics are all in English language which is the medium I am using for higher education.

    I beg government to take in consideration of our younger generation’s voice before making such a drastic changes just because people protested.

  18. #18 by blablowbla on Thursday, 9 July 2009 - 9:12 am

    wat a stupid country leaders(cabinet) for bolehland!

    since there is no perfect 100% solution,whichever decision they made will be offended to the other parties,i m suggesting that education be a state’s mandate,just like the land act n policy!

    if kelantanis think that bm is their choice,go ahead,their local citizens whom wish to learn S n M in BI,go to those states that adopt S n M in BI,once for all,clearing the education issue!

    that’s why,when we “selected “incompetent leaders,it will take hundred of years to solve simple problem,and the worst is,they racialize the issue!

  19. #19 by johnnypok on Thursday, 9 July 2009 - 10:29 pm

    Let them continue to rot like salted fish with their poor standard of English.

  20. #20 by ktteokt on Friday, 10 July 2009 - 1:35 pm

    Don’t you know Malaysia provides FREE SIZE shoes to ministers? They are MULTI-PURPOSE! One minute they can be the minister of finance and the next minute, the minister of education! And being in charge of a ministry did not mean they MUST know what is going on in that ministry itself. Just like I have posted before, may be the Minister of Transport doesn’t know how to drive a car, or the Minister of Defence not knowing how to handle ammunition and arrange defence tactics. And the list goes on……..

  21. #21 by siapatau on Saturday, 11 July 2009 - 6:21 pm

    Hamba mengambil komen dari saudara dibawah.

    “written by HEadACHE, July 09, 2009 21:27:41 (Mt.m2day)

    Now we are going to teach Science in BM

    The whole world uses the language as an information and/or technology language. How dangerous it will be if we try to use Bahasa, especially in school. See example below:-

    Hardware = barangkeras
    Software = baranglembut
    Joystick = batang gembira
    Plug and Play = cucuk dan main
    Port = lubang
    Server = pelayan
    Client = pelanggan

    Try to translate this:
    That server gives a plug and play service to the client using either hardware or software joystick. The joystick goes into the port of the client.

    Now in BAHASA:
    Pelayan itu memberi pelanggannya layanan cucuk dan main dengan menggunakan batang gembira jenis keras atau lembut. Batang gembira itu akan dimasukkan ke dalam lubang pelanggan.”

    Apa macam? Boleh!

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