7/13/2009

Malaysia backtracking on teaching in English

Muhyiddin announced that Malaysia is scrapping the teaching of Science and Maths in English and the reason given is that it will undermine the students ability to learn Bahasa Melayu. The teaching of these subjects in English is also tough on the students as their grasp of the language is poor. I think the real reason is that there are not many competent teachers who are able to teach in English. The 40 years of abandoning the teaching of English has taken its toll. Many of the teachers educated under the new policy would not have much knowledge of English and will be incompetent to use the language as a medium of instruction. If the teachers are struggling, how could the students learn anything? Education policies or many national policies cannot be scrapped simply at someone's fancy as the consequences and impact are long term and long lasting. To unwind and start again is going to be very painful. The easy way is not to do it and continue with their current policy of using Malay as the medium of instruction. It is not easy to transform a nation of Malay speakers into an English speaking community overnight.

19 comments:

Wally Buffet said...

This piece of news really made my day when I read it in the papers couple of days back. Why? Because this hare brained move will take the country backwards at least 15 years. And that means we, the tiny red dot will still be a beacon of knowledge in this sea of buffoons and baboons.

Teaching science and maths in English is already difficult to the intellectually challenged masses of this sea. Teaching it in the vernacular is going to be a disaster! How do you express complex equations and scientific theorems in anything other than English? Even the PRC Chinese admit that their top scholars have to be effectively bilingual and competent enough to express themselves in the international language of a globalized world. Have you noticed that when their politicians speak in their native language, they always revert to some English phrases when they can't find or express themselves with an accurate or close equivalent? Don't they know they are taking two steps forward and one GIANT step backwards? How dumb can you get?

If they can't find enough competent teachers to teach the subjects in English, swallow humble pie and import them for goodness sake!

This govt. has been criticized for lots of perceived shortcomings. But the one area where they have outshone anyone is to insist on competency in English and literacy in mother tongues. Have you met a white man who cannot speak in their mother tongue of English, Swedish, Dutch etc.? Well, I've met Chinese who cannot utter a word of mandarin or dialects. Disgustingly disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Nothing surprising. They are fond of going one step forward and two steps back.

But this is really a blessing in disguise for its neighbours further North, who will progress if they adopt English, and even attract more investors and eventually overtake them economically.

It is alright for Matland though. They prefer the kampong spirit kind of thing rather than progress. It is their choice.

Lost Citizen

redbean said...

i was watching a program in cna on shanghai last night. one striking feature that i could not miss was the road signs. they were all bi lingual, chinese and english.

this is what being international and friendly to visitors is all about. they could just used chinese and piss off every visitor. what they have done is making life so much easier for foreigners. and they are all eagerly learning english and happily doing it.

redbean said...

oh, i still can't forget thinking that jalan sahaja was the longest road in malacca when i was there some years back. every turn i made i was looking at the sign saying jalan sahaja.

damn susah and damn malu.

Wally Buffet said...

Nowadays no more problems with all these "Jalan" crap. Use the GPS in my jalopy and just follow what the gizmo says.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Yes, this is a silly policy. Then again, when someone from the govt (any govt) dictates educational policy, it is usually a silly policy — a central decision that is likely to have severe adverse effects on the children later on when they grow up.

I suspect he is trying to "trap" the kids into remaining in Malaysia. Bear inmind that the level of wealth of a society depends on the expanse on the use of science, engineering and technology. i.e. the less sci, tech and engineering the society has the poorer the society as well as the individuals in it.

Since Malaysian kids are taught Sci/Math in Bahasa, they cannot venture too far from home — of course there'll be those who would go home and re-learn their sci/math in English or another language of their choice.

I want o get vulgar and obscene with UMNO – as this is indirectly an UMNO policy... but redbean will cancel my post, and my opinion won't be heard.

It has always been my intention to outrage as many UMNO faithful as possible, and to kick the racist Malaysian constitution in the balls whenever I get the chance. I hope this is clear to any Malaysian reader who is out there.

Wally Buffet said...

It appears to me that Beanie has an "Open" comment policy. So let's hear what you have to say about those buffoons up North. No holds barred ok? Spicy language is honest language.

I value your comments highly.

redbean said...

hi wally,

it is good to assume that everyone is a mature adult and we can chat rationally. i also accept that we are humans and at times can get a bit hot under our collars or wanted to get something out to let out some steam.

but whatever, it is always good to be civil and restrain a little in our comments. otherwise the blog will become another arena for people to tear one another to pieces.

malaysia has its own constraints and will work its policie along those lines. how it wants to move or can move is not simply a case of being logical and objective. there are many political considerations. they have different priorities.

then they have a super smart aleck to deal with, and any views or policies that is not his is bad and will be attacked.

they should turn the guns at him instead of taking his potshots.

Matilah_Singapura said...

redbean:

> how it wants to move or can move is not simply a case of being logical and objective. <

The country and society is mired in religious and racial superstition and myths, and these myths (see "meme theory" and "zeitgeist") would probably — to a certain degree — influence the reasoning behind any public policy. Thus moving logically or objectively while possible, is highly improbable.

Wally:

> No holds barred ok? Spicy language is honest language. <

Agree. That depends what you want to achieve: merely commenting on a situation or arguing for real change.

Communication is a two way street: The meaning of your communication is reflected in the response you get

Referring to my previous point: I don't think that merely writing opinion on a net log is actually going to affect the world to any significant degree. Therefore you might as well enjoy yourself and heap polemics on stuff that you find ridiculous, and entertain yourself and others.

Anonymous said...

re: Wally

I'm from up North, but have been in voluntary exile for a long time now. But since you demanded my input... though there's nothing to be said which is not patently obvious.

The decision is entirely political. However, the language in which science/math is taught is quite secondary (c.f. Japan, South Korea, Iran), the key question is if science/math is taught at all.

I once witnessed a Malay teacher having the entirely class stand up, and recite the English science textbook verbatim. Peppered with pronunciation hiccups.

Matilah_singapura would again tout his solution - i.e. to privatize education altogether. But if you don't like the profession better to call it quits. It's less about professional responsibility, sense of duty, love for students... but raison d'etre. I don't really know why some people bother to live.

Anonymous said...

btw this would be a wonderful boon to Singapore.

For the past decade there's been a steady exodus of middle class Malaysians (half my cousins are based overseas now) - even the Malays are leaving.

The only other political party which can penetrate the rural areas is PAS, who is not shy about its intentions to establish an Islamic State. So between UMNO and PAS... it's like choosing between the devil and the deep blue. Either way, minorities will be squeezed tight.

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 246:

> Matilah_singapura would again tout his solution - i.e. to privatize education altogether. <

Sure, but I would also argue against it for practical reasons. In present day Malaysia, taking culture and social memes into consideration: this proposition whilst "ideal" would be improbable and impossible to implement.

The idea of privatizing education (or anything else) is to place the choice, responsibility onto individuals instead of having a central government do the choosing and thinking for you. Thus the idea of privatisation is sound. However can it be achieved in a real world, where politics and bad thinking are given a "power" through political process? Not likely.

Privatisation changes mandatory to voluntary.

Therefore the only solution I can think of is to think for yourself. Go to school, put up with the nonsense, then go home and give yourself a real education.

Wally Buffet said...

"I once witnessed a Malay teacher having the entirely class stand up, and recite the English science textbook verbatim. Peppered with pronunciation hiccups."

Drop dead hilarious! Singapore should recruit this teacher to teach the bright boys in RI and see what happens as a kind of experiment to find out whether the propensity for the whole class to get straight "A"s is nurture or nature.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Yeah, teach those "bright boys" at RI to march to whatever drummer of "authority" is playing.

IMO the only school which fosters individuality and independent thinking is ACS — despite it's racially-charged (Anglo-Chinese) bullshit "multicultural" name. You could of course use the famous epithet spun by "jealous" schoolchildren from "other" schools: American Cock Suckers

ACS rocks, and ACS boys rock the house (wherever they are)

Wally Buffet said...

Some emeritus professor in Malaysia reportedly said:

“We used to lead Asia in terms of English, and now we have allowed ourselves to slip below other Asian countries.”

Huh? Say that again? Used to lead Asia in terms of English? Perhaps when Singapore was still in Malaysia? Say properly lah Prof!

redbean said...

tomorrow they will blame singaporeans for taking advantage of them by speaking english, using english to negotiate and they can't.

then a new law will be legislated to compel all business dealings be conducted in bahasa melayu.

Wally Buffet said...

When I stay in their hotels, the counter staff will aways try and be funny and speak bahasa to me when they see my Singapore passport.

Guess what? I always tell them "Saya tak faham." and......."Please speak English!"

Anonymous said...

Come on Singaporeans:

Wat so great about English ?

Is England the Master of the World ? Richest in the World ? The most advanced in the World ?

Does everyone kowtow to England and the Englishs ?

Do You feel superior just because You are able to communicate in English ?

Do You also feel superior when You have lost your ability to communicate in your own natural languages having replaced them with the English Language ?

Wat are You Anglophiles trying to prove ? Must all Races Anglicised themselves to be progressive ?

Anyone who despise his/her own nature and culture betrays him/herself and worse to feel proud of betraying ones' own origin and nature.

Wally Buffet said...

You missed the wood for the trees.

You obviously didn't get the drift.