Archive for category English

A re-look at the Malaysia Education Blueprint

– Hussaini Abdul Karim
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 13, 2012

OCT 13 – It is only natural for parents to demand the best for their children. More so now that parents of the noughties are generally better informed, more knowledgeable and are more educated when compared to those of the 80’s, 70’s, 60’s or earlier.

Likewise, the government of Malaysia also demands the best from its people, the best of everything.

Therefore, it is only logical if the government provides the best in order for them to get the best. Our country is blessed with abundant natural resources, a stable economy, peace, prosperity and harmony, among others. The better the people (human capital) the better our country will be in terms of progress, economy and development. The provision of quality education and if accompanied by the necessary and complete infrastructure combined with having good teachers and trainers, will ensure us a continuous supply of the right human capital. So, providing quality education should be made a priority in any country to produce the best people. That includes our country Malaysia.

Parents send their children to schools not just because the laws require them to do so and they also do not send their children to schools just for the sake of sending them to schools. I am referring to the larger majority. Most parents, if not all, want their children to get a decent education and to go as high as possible, up to university level for a first degree, if not further. Read the rest of this entry »

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Parents know best; the days of government knows best are over

— May Chee
The Malaysian Insider
Sep 29, 2012

SEPT 29 — The first part of the topic above is my belief; the second is espoused by our honourable Prime Minister himself. I mean what I say and I hope he does, too.

The Malaysian New Education Blueprint unveiled recently has promised to depoliticise the education system, vowing equal opportunities for all. Hmmm…I like how it sounds.

Now, I’ve nothing against those who support the MBMMBI. I do understand that our national language is important to us Malaysians, being the medium of communication that unites. In fact, being an advocate of PPSMI does not bring one in direct conflict with MBMMBI. I believe PPSMI can aid the noble aim of MBMMBI.

Though English is the dominant global language, it should not dominate every sphere of our lives. That’s why both PPSMI and MBMMBI can complement each other. We know for a fact that those who want to write for a world audience, e.g. to gain international recognition; need to have their efforts published in English. Though these works have a better chance of being published in their mother tongue in their homeland, but for a global audience, these efforts have to be translated into English. Read the rest of this entry »


Two popular request ignored in the Education Blueprint 2013-2025

– Toh Boo Huat
The Malaysian Insider
Sep 17, 2012

SEPT 17 – The just released Education Blueprint was touted to be very comprehensive as it took into account the views and desires of Malaysians who were given opportunities to provide input during dialogues held in major towns across the country.

However, if the responses and loud cheers from large section of the crowd during the dialogues are any indication of popular support and demands by the people, then two such requests are missing in the blueprint i.e. calls for Science and Mathematics be taught in English and, for a non-politician Education Minister.

In my humble opinion, the blueprint ought to address the desire of many ordinary folks who would like their children to learn Science and Mathematics in its lingua franca i.e. English while fully supporting maintaining MBMMBI policy for those who want it. Interestingly, the rich who can afford to attend International schools and those Mara sponsored students are enjoying this privilege that is gradually being denied to those attending national schools. Read the rest of this entry »


Shortcomings of the 2013-2025 National Education Blueprint

— Hussaini Abdul Karim
The Malaysian Insider
Sep 12, 2012

SEPT 12 — I laud both the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also the Minister for Education for their motivation, tireless efforts and initiatives to come up with a better education policy to replace the current very much attacked policy which is construed as being a weak one and also the people in MOE who have been working very hard since April this year firstly, to organise the National Education Dialogue that took the team led by former Education Director General Tan Sri Datuk Dr Wan Mohd Zahid bin Wan Mohd Noordin, the National Education Dialogue Panel Chairman to 16 locations throughout the country including Sabah and Sarawak to conduct the Townhall Series of the National Education Dialogue and to prepare the impressive and attractive Preliminary Report – Malaysia Education Blueprint 2103- 2025 in both Bahasa Malaysia and in English which we all, who were present at the launch, were presented a copy each.

The first impression I get of the launch of the Malaysia National Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025 is the seriousness given by the government to education due to the fact that both the PM and the DPM were present at the event and the ‘off-the-cuff’ statement made by the former who is also the Minister of Finance is that he expects the expenditure for education in this country given the new plans, policies, syllabus and systems to be put in place and implemented as stated in the blueprint will be much higher than previous years and as the minister in charge, he will approve it.

This was followed immediately by a loud applause from all present. The PM also made another ‘off-the-cuff’ statement commenting on his pet subject, English literature, which will be introduced from next year and given the situation now, he said, “If you can’t teach them Shakespeare, the full version, try the abridged version first and if that is also too difficult then, start with the books by Enid Blyton”. This was also followed by a loud applause from the audience.

It is most pleasing to note the emphasis the Prime Minister placed on English language knowing that this is the right way for our people to progress. He had earlier reminded the people, in no uncertain terms, to always use and uphold Bahasa Malaysia as this is our national language.

There are many aspects in the blueprint which are commendable but nothing is new, it is more like something old that are sent back to the people in new package. Read the rest of this entry »


PAGE responds to NST interview with Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister

By Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, PAGE Chairman | September 10, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

Sept 10 — We read with interest NST’s Sunday Interview with the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) “Improving quality in all areas of education” (9 Sep 2012) in particular the response given to the question on the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI).

It appears that the DPM is more afraid that his ministry is seen as flip-flopping on the policy than its impact on our children and their future.

Although PAGE had representatives in most state dialogue sessions there were also even more supporters of the policy who are in favour of it to continue as an option, to be exact 250,000 online.

No doubt English proficiency is important, learning the scientific and mathematical knowledge, in its lingua franca which is English, our second language, should be capitalised on and not discouraged, a basic management strategy.

By abolishing the policy, the DPM is preventing many of our children from learning the knowledge in a language they are most comfortable with, a belief UNESCO has always advocated.
Read the rest of this entry »


Wither English, wither the nation

— Thomas Fann
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 21, 2012

JUNE 21 — The title of this article is inspired by a presentation I heard at an English language conference I attended recently. It was a gathering of educators involved in the teaching of English in schools and people who are committed to raising the standard of spoken and written English in our nation. Coincidentally, another article by Stephen Doss was published at the same time entitled “Whither the standard of English.” (


For me, a few facts stood out. Firstly, the height from which our command of English has fallen in our nation as a whole. Most of the invited speakers spoke impeccable English, especially the “dinosaurs” amongst them. But they were from a bygone era, an era where English was the main language of instruction in our schools and our proficiency in the language was among some of the best in the world.

Secondly, there is a sense of haplessness among the educators that they are going against the flow, that the political will is not there to stem the downward slide despite all the chatter from politicians about improving the standard of English in our country. The reversal in the decision to teach maths and science in English is one such example of this inconsistency.

Thirdly, that the fruit of this decline is now maturing in our society, where we heard a newspaper editor and a hotel owner bemoaning the fact that they are finding it increasingly difficult to secure employees who are able to speak and write good English, which is a vital criteria in their industries. We used to laugh at signage and product manuals from China but now we laugh with them.

But alas, all is not lost especially when we heard from some of the younger teachers who spoke. Their passion, creativity and commitment to raise the level of English in our schools and their use of new technology are encouraging and gave us hope that there are still many out there who believe that English as a language is still important in this country. Read the rest of this entry »


Removing Quotas in International Schools A Positive Development

by M. Bakri Musa

In striking contrast to the horrendously expensive and unbelievably stupid idea of sending our teacher-trainees to Kirby, the Ministry of Education’s other decision to remove quotas on local enrollment in international schools is very much welcomed and definitely positive. The Minister confidently assured us that because of the small number of students involved, the move will not impact our national schools. I respectfully disagree; his confidence is misplaced and analysis flawed. On the contrary, this measure will have a tremendous impact on our national schools and ultimately the nation, for good or bad depending on how it is managed.

Consider the liberalization of higher education instituted in 1996. The rationale was to increase access and save foreign exchange by keeping at home those who would have gone abroad. It achieved both, the most successful of government initiatives. And it did not cost a sen except for the pay of government lawyers who drafted the enabling legislation.

The policy’s impact however, went far beyond. It permanently and profoundly altered the academic landscape of our public universities. Their current emphasis on the use of English for example, is the consequence of the impact of these private universities. Local employers (other than governmental agencies of course) made it clear that they prefer these graduates over those from public universities because of their demonstrably superior skills in English.

There were initial attempts at imputing ugly racial motives to this preferential treatment of private university graduates as most of them were non-Malays. That worked, but only temporarily. Ultimately the horrible truth was exposed. That realization was the impetus to the current greater use of English in public universities, with their erstwhile nationalistic Vice-Chancellors now fully embracing the move. They had to; the pathetic sight of their unemployed graduates was a constant and painful reminder. Read the rest of this entry »


Reforming Education: Futility of the Exercise

by Bakri Musa
Last of Six Parts

Earlier I reviewed the challenges faced by three groups of students who happen to be mostly if not exclusively Malays: kampong students, those in residential schools, and those in academic limbo following their Form Five.

There is another group, this time also exclusively Malays, being poorly served by our system of education: students in Islamic schools. These schools see their mission as primarily producing ulamas and religious functionaries; they are more seminaries, with indoctrination masquerading as education. They are more like Pakistan’s madrasahs and Indonesia’s pesantrens.

I would prefer that they be more like America’s faith-based schools which regularly outperform public ones. They are also cheaper and produce their share of America’s future scientists, engineers and executives. Religion is only one subject in these schools, not the all-consuming curriculum. Thus they attract many non-Christians. Contrast that to Islamic schools in Malaysia.

If Malaysia were to serve the aforementioned four groups of students well, that would go a long way in ameliorating the “Malay problem.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Reforming Education Part Two: Fixing Kampong Schools

M. Bakri Musa
Second of Six Parts: The Challenge of Providing Teachers

In Part One I discussed measures to increase the English fluency of kampong pupils, key to enhancing their employability and self-confidence. These include increasing the hours for English instruction, introducing immersion classes as with our earlier Special Malay and Remove Classes, and even bringing back colonial-era English schools to the kampongs. This section focuses on the special challenges of attracting teachers, specifically to teach English, and on improving kampong schools.

Attracting Teachers

Malaysia has a deep reservoir of English-speaking teachers trained under the old all-English system. They are now all retired, but given sufficient incentives they could be readily enticed to teach in our rural schools. Right now there are only half-hearted attempts at attracting them, with the efforts left to local headmasters. These headmasters, brought up under the existing system, are only too aware of their own limitations in English. They are not about to be welcoming of or risk having their own inadequacies exposed by these hitherto senior English-fluent teachers; hence the failure of the current policy.
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Reforming Education: Fixing Kampong Schools

M. Bakri Musa

(First of Six Parts)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Muhyiddin Yassin promised to release his “thorough review” of our schools by yearend. I hope that he, his officials, and the slew of expensive consultants he hired will pay attention to the unique challenges facing three particular groups of students: those in our kampong schools, residential schools, and those university-bound with their post-Form Five dilemma.

I will cover these three issues in the order presented. I had earlier critiqued and put forth my recommendations on improving the whole system in my book, An Education System Worthy of Malaysia (2003).

There is no shortage of reviews, thorough and otherwise, of our education system. Unfortunately, just as the recommendations of one new policy were being implemented, there would follow, just as surely as a burp after a roti canai breakfast, a stunning reversal soon thereafter. Unlike a burp where only stale gas would be expelled, with a policy reversal the whole earlier content would be vomited out. It is enough to keep the heads of our pupils and teachers spinning, further distracting and confusing them. A prime example would be the language of instruction for science and mathematics.

In addition to the confusions and distractions from these frequent policy reversals, kampong pupils in particular are further burdened by a triad of formidable obstacles that have remained unresolved for decades despite the multitude of reforms. Incidentally as these pupils are Malays, they should be of particular concern to UMNO, Perkasa, and other champions of Ketuanan Melayu types. On a more general level, Malaysia cannot become developed if a major segment of its population – its rural youths – are deprived of quality education. That is quite apart from the racial implications.

It is pathetic if not reprehensible that after nearly three years as Minister of Education it is only now that Muhyiddin is aware of the glaring achievement gaps between rural and urban schools. He discovered this from perusing the results of the recently-released Sijil Persekutuan Malaysia (Form Five) examination. Muhyiddin’s ignorance is even more incomprehensible considering that he is the product of a rural school. That could only indicate sheer bumbling incompetence or gross dereliction of duty. Read the rest of this entry »


Manglish or Bahasa rojak. How can?

Mariam Mokhtar | January 27, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

The inexcusable translation in our government departments is not just a question of lack of professionalism and education but, more importantly, of attitude, especially of those at the top.

Throughout Malaysia’s arms spending history, the government has forked out billions on defence procurement while millions more have allegedly been used for commissions and backhanders.

And yet the defence ministry does not see fit to apportion a tiny fraction of its massive budget on the services of a translator.

It cannot be a lack of funds or a scarcity of translators. Is it an aversion which started after one high-profile translator connected to a particular defence purchase met an untimely end?

When the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) posted its error-riddled translation on its English website to describe the dress code appropriate for staff, it received extraordinary attention on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The translations ranged from the painful sounding “Clothes that poke eye” to the more serious safety connotation of the “Malaysian Government take drastic measures to increase the level of any national security threat”.

Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi admitted that his ministry had utilised the free Google online translator. He subsequently ordered the site to be removed temporarily. It is easy to blame Google. Read the rest of this entry »


A conversation at the hospital

By Zairil Khir Johari | 7 December, 2011
The Rocket

The most noticeable difference in experience between a private and a public hospital is the fact that in the former, the waiting room is air-conditioned. Other than that, the unavailability of parking lots, infinitesimal queue numbers and staff members adept at ignoring your eye contact are all characteristic of Malaysian hospitals, no matter how much you pay.

“Sometimes I wonder why we pay more for such service?”

I turned towards the source of the unsolicited comment. He was middle-aged, middle-class and probably undergoing a mid-life crisis judging from the way his hair was carefully combed to cover a bald patch. I smiled.

“My wife is here for a check-up,” he said, glancing in the direction of a neatly-dressed lady with an exasperated expression that said there he goes again.
Read the rest of this entry »


TIMSS study show students from progressive high tech countries score high marks in science and maths

By Dr Chen Man Hin, DAP life advisor

The 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) shows that students from developed countries are the top scorers and they are the movers and engineers responsible to make their countries progressive and prosperous.

Hogging the top places are Singapore, Taipei, S. Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, England, United States and Russia, with scores from 10 and above.

Unfortunately Malaysia had low scores of 3 and are seen in the company of Indonesia, Colombia, Georgia, Ukraine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Algeria, etc.

Malaysia at independence was as rich as Japan and had a high per capita income. But now Malaysia has been overtaken by Singapore, Taipei, S. Korea and Hong Kong. They progressed faster because of better education in science, maths and engineering.
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Towards a modern IT, High Tech, and High Income Malaysia

By Dr Chen Man Hin, DAP life advisor

PPMSI since its launch in 2002 to achieve a modern IT society has not made progress because of lack of purpose and unity. It was the product of the Mahathir dynasty, when PM Mahathir was pushing the idea of Bangsa Malaysia or Vision 2020.

His target of a progressive Malaysia could be achievable if the people were well versed in Mathematics and Science and they could make the country progressive like other high tech countries in Asia, like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, S Korea and Taiwan. And as English was the language of Science and Maths, so the quickest way was to educate our youths to speak and write in English. Hence his cabinet pushed the policy of PPMSI (teaching and learning maths and science in English). That was in 2002.

The year now is 2011, what are the results? Are the students competent in English and well versed in Maths and Science?

Unemployable graduates, with deplorable English. The results have not been encouraging. It is well known that most of the university graduates are not equipped or trained to work in the commercial and business world. They have no communicating skills and could hardly write a letter in English. The businessmen coined these graduates as ‘unemployable graduates’.
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Impotent rage

By Kapil Sethi | November 09, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

NOV 9 — So it’s final. No more PPSMI. Over a year of PAGE campaigning, petitioning, protesting and writing letters to the editors have come to naught. As the deputy prime minister remarked, the decision was made by the government in 2009 and it will not bow to the demands of small groups. The only concession is that those already under PPSMI will be allowed to finish their schooling under PPSMI.

So it’s final. No more arguments over amendments to the Employment Act. Three months of the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) campaigning, petitioning and picketing have had no impact on the government. The human resource minister called the picket illegal (November 1, The Malaysian Insider) and insisted “this is a policy issue by the government. If they picket, they are going against the law.”

Both PAGE and MTUC threatened to divert support from Barisan Nasional to the opposition if their demands were not met. The PAGE Facebook protest page garnered approximately 100,000 “Likes” while MTUC has over 800,000 members and counts on the support of 5.7 million workers. Even the Lynas controversy has managed to alienate a substantial portion of Kuantan residents, with no solution offered by the government beyond bare denials.
Read the rest of this entry »


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. Read the rest of this entry »


Pengalaman graduan tempatan di negara asing

Wong Tan Kim
The Malaysian Insider
Nov 07, 2011

7 NOV — Sedang saya duduk berehat di sebuah hotel di kota Shenzhen, China teringin saya untuk menulis untuk bacaan The Malaysian Insider akan kehidupan seorang graduan tempatan di negara asing.

Saya dihantar oleh majikan saya di Malaysia untuk bertugas di kota Shenzhen. Setelah beberapa tahun berulang-alik di antara Malaysia (Johor Baru), Singapura, Hong Kong, Shenzhen dan Guangdong, saya dapati ada sesuatu yang tidak betul dengan sistem pelajaran di negara kita.

Saya seorang graduan lepasan UKM dalam tahun 80an. Saya mengikuti sepenuhnya dunia pendidikan saya di dalam Bahasa Malaysia. Saya mengikuti kuliah yang dikendalikan oleh profesor seperti Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, Dr Sanusi Osman, Allahyarham Rustam Sani, Dr Noraini Othman, Dr Ting Chew Peh dan ramai lagi pensyarah yang saya sudah lupa namanya.

Saya seorang bangsa Cina yang tidak boleh membaca tulisan Cina dan menulis tulisan Cina. Saya hanya boleh bertutur Bahasa Mandarin yang ringkas. Dengan latarbelakang yang sedemikian, boleh bayangkan cabaran saya di negara China. Saya melihat saya sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia dan bukan warga China walaupun nenek-moyang saya berasal dari China. Read the rest of this entry »


Muhyiddin is “flip flop Minister who denies that he flip-flops” on PPSMI

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s denial that he had been inconsistent on the government policy on the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) has only made him a “flip-flop Minister who denies that he flip-flops” on PPSMI.

That Muhyiddin had “flip-flopped”, there is no need to go further than to quote the chairman of Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim who told the Malaysian Insider that she was “pleasantly surprised” by Muhyiddin’s announcement on PPSMI last Friday, “pointing out that until Thursday, Muhyiddin had appeared bent on pressing on with the government’s original decision to scrap PPSMI completely next year”. (The Malaysian Insider). Read the rest of this entry »


When will four MCA Ministers make the formal proposal in Cabinet to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM?

I welcome the proposal by the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM, although it was a decade after I had made such a proposal.

On 18th May 2002, in expressing the DAP’s full support for the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s call to Malaysian students to master English as “necessary for communications essential to keep abreast of developments in the technical fields such as engineering and science”, I had gone one step further in proposing making pass in English compulsory in SPM, STPM and matriculation.

This is what I said some 10 years ago:

“The government has been talking about the decline of the standard of English language in the past two decades and the urgent need to arrest it, but it had nothing to show for the results. Read the rest of this entry »


Nail in the coffin for PPSMI, says Muhyiddin

Nigel Aw | Nov 3, 2011

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today the decision to discontinue the teaching of mathematics and science in English (PPSMI) policy is final.

So, calls for the programme to be retained are two years too late, said Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister.

“In 2009, (when the abolition of PPSMI was announced) there was no negative reaction. The majority accepted it well.

“I presented it in the cabinet, everyone agreed, I brought it to Parliament and everyone, including the opposition at that time, agreed.

“But now, because there are some groups opposed to it, they (the opposition) want to jump on the bandwagon.” Read the rest of this entry »