PPSMI, a tough pill to swallow

Dr Kamal Amzan
The Malaysian Insider
Nov 08, 2011

NOV 8 — This is déjà vu.

Back in Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s day, we saw many U-turns and flip flopping of government decisions.

The decision to build a crooked bridge, double tracking rail project, comes to mind. Malaysians were so tired of such fickle-mindedness that they voted the Opposition into a few states in March 2008.

Three years later, we usher in the era of PPSMI.

Within a week we saw two big announcements by the education minister. One was to uphold the abolishment of PPSMI, while the other was to extend PPSMI until 2021.

After quoting numerous studies and expert opinions on why they have to shelve the teaching of science and mathematics in English, and how teaching in the Malay language will be better for students, the education minister decided that the country could still prolong the teaching of said subjects in the English language.

What were his decisions based on? The proximity of the next general election, or because our students and Malaysia deserve a better future?

Should we expect another U-turn after the general election? Or should we be fickle and vote someone else in?

Whatever the answer, education for Malaysians must not be used as currency to garner support or votes. No matter how unpopular a policy vis-a-vis our education is, the government and the rakyat must swallow bitter pills to ensure a progressive and developed Malaysia.

Gambling with our children’s education is never the answer.

The teaching of science and mathematics in English will not only improve our children’s command of the language, but will hasten the knowledge transfer to make our younger generation more marketable, attracting high income companies in their wake to make Malaysia a high income nation.

Critics who scream violation of the national language should be made to understand that as long as Malaysia is regarded as a third world country (no matter what the politicians want us to believe), as long as our graduates are unemployable, and as long as Malaysia remains behind technologically, Bahasa Malaysia will never be looked up to by the world.

Only a developed Malaysia will allow the respect Bahasa Malaysia deserves, and its proliferation as the next lingua franca in the region if not the world by our world-class, English proficient, sought after graduates.

How many more generations do we need to experiment on before we accept the fact that English language goes hand in glove with advancements in science and mathematics, which will unmistakably lead to national progress?

As with any policy in their infancy, we are bound to encounter problems. Solving them as we move along will be a teaching experience for the teachers, parents and officials in the education ministry and the nation, as long as everyone is committed to such lessons in the English language.

That is called a learning curve, and maturing into a more advance nation.

Crying wolf, giving PPSMI a bad name, getting people to scream and protest against it, and attempting to erase them from history because they are too difficult to handle, or too complicated for the ministry to handle is not the answer.

Malaysians are a mature lot that understand sacrifices for the sake of the future. No sane, rational parent will object to the use of English in the classroom for the teaching of science and mathematics unless they are politically motivated, or are ignorant of world affairs.

The government should be firm in implementing PPSMI, and not bow down to presumed pressure from NGOs and other politically motivated parties. The government must act as a guardian to our children’s and nation’s future, and not let a handful of ill informed parties hijack the policy meant for a better future.

Start making tough decisions and sticking to them please. Bitter pills to swallow, for a better Malaysia.

  1. #1 by bruno on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 9:52 pm

    The reason why there is a lot of flip-flopping is because the politicains are clueless,and looking for directions.Our EM Muhyiddin is shell shocked,fumbling all the way to his own goal post.

  2. #2 by bruno on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 9:55 pm

    The reason why DPM and EM Muhyiddin is fumbling is because like most of our ministers,he needs someone to lead or to dictate the directions for him.

  3. #3 by bruno on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 9:59 pm

    But for that someone that DPM and EM Muhyiddin is looking to for directions does not exists among his present cabinet collegues.

  4. #4 by dagen on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 - 10:37 pm

    Back in those days when we still have english medium schools our education system could produce world renown engineer like the late prof chin fung kee. And our MU MBBS holders were able to pass the MRCP exams with relative ease. But after several decades of malay medium our universities mysteriously slipped behind a lot of other lesser known universities. And our MBBS is no longer recognised in the UK. I suppose in umno’s logic that is progress.

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 12:10 am

    dagen,you’re anti-1Malaysia,you know.We’re actually doing fine and surely on the way to the best democracy in the world so please don’t be unpatriotic and hijack our progress.Moo has in mind how to transform our national educational field and NFC field as well.MooOOOO.Why are you like that,anti-1malaysia?Relaks la and wait till the cows come home.MooOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  6. #6 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 12:30 am

    The reason why those who walks in the corridors of power flip flop so often on decision making on key issues is simply due to a lack of “thinking through” an issue before making a final decision. This lack of thinking through could be due to inherent laziness or sheer incompetence of these people.

    In the little “red dot” down south, well known for fighting tooth and nail to defend any issue once it is decided, I was once told by one of their senior diplomats that if they fail to do their homework properly they could end up facing LKY’s wrath. As a senior diplomat, he was expected to have all the relevant info at his fingertips when LKY came visiting and he has to brief him.

    I sincerely doubt any of our political leaders has the commitment and will to work as hard.

  7. #7 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 12:53 am

    Malaysia boleh mah,Singapore cannot what,don’t know meh?So Sorry ar,just to highlight that Malaysai now everything boleh already oh.The best of the best democracy promised by Najis the cartoonist of Tong Jamban PM.If anything,everthing sloganeering promised by 1Tongjamban tak jadi kan?,then just flush and forget them lor.After all they’re just 1Jamban minister like ragsheet Kutusan Malaysia..

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 2:00 am

    What else but UDDER nonsense fr 1 with a half-burnt face n a spongiform brain

  9. #9 by monsterball on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 2:38 am

    Form this…cannot get vote….throw it out..try something else.
    Nothing done are sincere.
    All are fishing for votes.
    We can see Najib’s flip flopping ..now Mhuyiddin flip flopping….Nazri too.
    Enjoy the clowns performing with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10 by dagen on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 9:37 am

    Fools. What fool he is. Unless umno has it in the works to turn the country into an island with closed doors – like burma – mastering english (and soon mandarin too) will become a pressing necessity. Even as we speak now, the country is being sucked rather relentlessly (giving the event a negative connotation just to be in tune with umno’s hyper-type sentiments and oversized sensitivities) into the global village. Ask ourselves this question: As compared to say 20 yrs ago how often more do we today communicate with foreign parties in the course of our work? A lot more, quite certainly. And do not be mistaken. The foreign parties may not necessarily be residing or located somewhere outside the country. He could be a kuai loh or korean or japanese working somewhere in another street or in a different state. With the west now facing economic difficulties I expect to see more westerners turning to this part of the world for business and employment opportunities. In short, the trend will only expand further. That means, the need to master english will get more and more pressing. By and large chinese parents will somehow find the means and ways to let their children learn some basic english. What about malays? Esp malays who are not of the umnoputra stock?

    Err cintanegara and chengho, pls stop expressing your views here in english. Use bahasa only. We can use both english and bahasa because we kept the choice open for ourselves.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 10:18 am

    Forget about PPSMI. We can learn a truly universal language by just using our fingers. Then the chimpanzees would be able to laugh at us.


  12. #12 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 11:34 am

    The many flip-floppings merely indicate that the government does not know what is best for the country and it is trying to manage the country by trial-and-error!

    Honestly, if you are farsighted and have good knowledge on trends of the world, your decision will come naturally and you don’t have to hesitate on it.

  13. #13 by k1980 on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 1:36 pm


    See how the abolishment of PPSMI in schools has made the students (and warden) too stupid to think? Check the urinated bedsheet to see which of the 2 boys’ dna is on it!

  14. #14 by on cheng on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 - 3:56 pm

    To me, Science n Maths in English language (at least in Malaysia) is important, but MORE important, is we should have enough properly qualified trained, n knowledgeable, dedicated, teachers in these 2 subjects.
    Presently, we are far from that !!

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