Is Muhyiddin best person to “transform” Malaysian proficiency in English, maths and science as to become a global power house?

Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has not inspired or convinced Malaysians in his 31 months as Education Minister that he is the person to “transform” the proficiency of Malaysian students in English, maths and science for Malaysia to become a global power house in these three subjects.

This point has been further driven home for most Malaysians by his recent maladroit flip-flop over the PPSMI issue.

The greatest disservice Muhyiddin has done to Malaysian education and our international competitiveness was his decision on PPSMI, which was given Cabinet approval on 8th July 2009.

My immediate reaction (9th July 2009) was to describe the Cabinet decision on PPSMI “not a New Deal, as proclaimed by some newspaper headlines, but a Raw Deal leaving Malaysia stranded in the march towards global educational quality, excellence and competitiveness and doing a great disservice to millions of students currently in both the primary and secondary schools”.

I had stressed at the time that the Cabinet’s PPSMI decision of July 8, 2009 “cannot be the last word on the controversial subject and the whole issue must be re-opened for a broader, more liberal and flexible solution which would have far-reaching consequences not only to nation-building, nature of a society we want to build in Malaysia but also whether Malaysia can compete and stand tall with the rest of the world”.

I had right from the beginning in 2002 opposed former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s PPSMI, as it is educationally unsound 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.

This is why I had suggested a flexible approach to the PPSMI problem which does not allow a “One Size Fits All” solution, by giving parents the choice to decide on the type of education they want for their children – including having classes or schools using English as medium of instruction for mathematics and science.

The purpose of the ill-conceived PPSMI in 2002 was to raise the standards of English, mathematics and science for Malaysian students which are imperative if Malaysia is not to continue its descent into a backwater, with one country after another overtaking the country in national development and progress.

The reasons prompting the PPSMI in 2002 to transform Malaysia into a global powerhouse in English, maths and science were right, proper and should be supported but the approach in conceiving and implementing the PPSMI from Std. One was wrong.

In his 31 months as Education Minister, Muhyiddin has failed to come up with a formula which commands public confidence that English, maths and science proficiency of Malaysian students would be upgraded for Malaysia to become a global powerhouse in these three subjects.

In fact, high and vivid in the memory of Malaysians is the admission by Muhyiddin after becoming Education Minister that he did not know that English is not a “must pass” subject for SPM – which shows that neither education nor the decline of English language among students in the past four decades had been very close to his heart in his political career.

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 actual 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.

It is sad and most deplorable that in his 31 months as Education Minister, Malaysia is today no nearer to finding a solution to “transform” the proficiency of Malaysian students in English, maths and science as to become a global power house in these three subjects to best position Malaysia in the march towards global educational quality, excellence and competitiveness.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 11:11 am

    Moo has been brought up the Mamakthirite way – it’s either My Way or the Highway. These UMNO goons are still 30 years behind time.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 11:20 am

    Just take a look at the number of Nobel Prize winners in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Economics who do not understand the English language

  3. #3 by Godfather on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 11:41 am

    What’s the difference between scrapping PPSMI and continuing to subsidise loss-making entities like Proton ? Well, money we lose can be made back or losses trimmed, but the future of our children can never be recovered. Once we embark on the wrong path, that’s it – we will have our own cinta-rambutan excellence awards to justify the wrong decision.

  4. #4 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 11:55 am

    Transform BN hearts first before any transformation are workable. If they have no sincerity and only crave to stay in power then they real transformation will end up as a monster.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 12:05 pm

    There are all not qualified.
    Check out Home…Law and PM…are they all qualified?
    It’s low class actors whose days are numbered.
    They all know it too.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 12:07 pm

    They are all not qualified…cheap actors trying to fool Malaysians.

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 1:31 pm

    We constantly receive udder rubbish fr dis no cow sense mooo

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 2:02 pm

    I am sure there are many people who would agree with you and concede that there exist “powerful educational arguments against TDM’s PPSMI using English to teach maths and science from Std. 1” that does not advance the cause of any of the 3 subjects. Yet they would oppose Muhyiddin’s abolishment of PPSMI by reason of what is perceived as only another retreat of English importance to backwaters in deference to the National Language. No amount of what the Education Minister says about bringing in experts to teacg English separately will assuage this anxiety. The crux of the problem is the UMNO’s political imperative to uphold the National Language and the symbolim of it being not seen to give in an inch even to English no matter its international lingua franca and essential for maintenance of the country’s competitiveness. For this reason the government will return not return to English medium school as before as an alternative because its an alternative that will be seized by nearly all non Malay parents and their children.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 2:03 pm

    That means in terms of symbolism Non malays are not giving deference to National Language and by extension deference to ketuanan of national identity of which language of majority race is one main pillar. To make English as a compulsory subject is at best a compromise of the above political imperative. True when one makes a subject compulsory one is forced to learn – just like Non Malays were forced to do so from 1970s onwards and became proficient. However it must be borne in mind that firstly our children will be subject to the pressure of 3 compulsory subjects – National Language, History and English. Secondly if the pressure of 3 subjects would make the rural Malay students not perform well, the Ministry will again lower the standards and passing marks for at least English, which means its doubtful whether students will really be proficient in English in spite of it being compulsory. Thirdly it is a fact that one learns a language (like English) from currency of usage in school and home. Making English a compulsory subject does not mean at all there will be currency of its usage in schools.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Ultimately one has to choose between wanting English proficiency or political symbolism of National language not being competed against by English.

    If one chooses the former for practical reasons one has to restore English medium school.

    Trying to satisfy both by half hearted measures reminds me of a married man scuttling to and fro between his wife at home and his mistress trying to satisfy both – and dissastisfying both – and in the home as often the case has to go back to his first priority the wife & children. So is the case of UMNO which will always place priority of Ketuanan of the National language over all else. It’s in the nature of the (political) beast.

    To have English medium schools is like a wife allowing the straying husband to openly set up a more permanent visiting arrangement in the mistress house and to increasingly spend more time there. This cannot be allowed.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 2:45 pm

    Which of the following descriptions best fit Pak Moo?

    “He is depriving a village somewhere of their idiot..”

    “Not a born leader yet..”

    “If you stand close enough to him you can hear the toilet flushing..”

    “If you gave him a penny for his thoughts you’d get change..”

    “If he were any more stupid he’d have to be watered twice a week..”

    “Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it..”

    “Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming..”

    “Donated his brain to science before he was done using it..”

    “A prime candidate for natural deselection..”

    “A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on..”

    “If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he’s the other one..”

    “When his IQ reaches 50 he should sell..”

    “He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room..”

    “He would argue with a signpost..”

    “He’s been working with glue too much..”

    “He doesn’t have ulcers but he’s a carrier..”

    “When he opens his mouth it seems that it is only to change feet..”

    “Not so much of a ‘hasbeen’, more of a definite ‘won’tbe’..”

    “I would not allow this employee to breed..”

    “We would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity..”

    “He would be out of his depth in a car park puddle..”

    “This person has delusions of adequacy..”

    “Sets low standards and consistently fails to achieve them..”

    “Has the wisdom of childhood and the energy of old age..”

    “Works well only when cornered like a rat in a trap..”

    “The lights are on but nobody’s at home..”

    “The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead..”

  12. #12 by Godfather on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 2:52 pm


    The non-straying faithful man standing by his wife is from what school, then ?

  13. #13 by dagen on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 3:17 pm

    Impressive list there k1980.

    But I still am wondering how he got his face toasted on one side. Probably checking the oven with the heating element red hot.

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 5:04 pm

    Madrasah – wives trained from OWC?

  15. #15 by rockdaboat on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 7:32 pm

    Are you joking?

  16. #16 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 11:58 pm

    Hv a look at d LIST of our Education Minister since 1957, then we know Y we r in dis sh!t
    They r fit 4 a TRIBE, not 4 a NATION, really pua tan sai 1, langsung tak boleh pakai 1
    1 step forward, 2 or 3 steps backward, boh loh yong 1 lah, so tragic 4 M’sia

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