So, Muhyiddin has finally announced that Math and Science will now be taught in Bahasa Malaysia fully by 2012 and it's FINAL. What do I think? Well, this is my humble and personal opinion - I think it's a bad move. It has only been six years since the MOE (Ministry of Education) implemented the PPSMI (Teaching of Math and Science in English) and despite seeing a decline in exam performance especially from rural areas, they should have waited for at least 11 years.
Why 11 years? Well, it takes an average Malaysian student 11 years to complete his/her education starting from Year 1 to Form 5. You can't take their UPSR result as a measuring yard stick and same goes to their PMR result. What really makes or breaks the success of PPSMI is their SPM results. Do a research and from there can you only make a decision on what is best for the students.
You have to start them young and give time to these students to get use to the idea of learning Math and Science in English. When they're young, their brains are fresh and they have a clean slate. They're like dry sponges, ready to absorb every single thing that is being taught to them. So, teach them right and their slate will be filled with good grammars, correct pronunciations and excellent vocabularies. Then, can they only have a mean command of the language.
You can't simply rush them in pursue of more As and less Ds and Fs. It's like teaching a toddler to walk - they would slither, crawl and toddle around first. When they're confident and strong enough, then only will they be able to walk and later jog and then run full speed ahead. Just because you want your record and statistics to look good, it does not mean that you can simply adjust the education system to suit your whims and fancies and have complete disregard for the students' education well-being.
I get that the MOE is doing this because students from the rural areas can't cope with learning Math and Science in English but again, it's all about giving ample time for these kids to enjoy learning these two subjects in English. Give them good English teachers and see how they will blossom and prosper under the guidance of such dedicated teachers. Now you're saying that we don't produce good English teachers anymore but don't you see that good English teachers come from a solid English-educated background?
From what I see, the higher powers above only want to see results and they want it fast. They don't see the repercussion of their hasty decision which is making us move a step behind by reverting to the old ways. If you want Malaysians to be glocal (a conundrum coined by Najib that wants global thinking and success but comes from local people), then you'll have to master the English language because with only a high profiency in the language, can you conquer the world. Takkan la bila nak buat international business closure or present your papers during a conference, you nak cakap Melayu. Tak jalan beb! Seeing that English is the universal language of the world.
In fact, when you step into universities, most subjects will be taught in English. You have to breathe and eat English more so if you're studying abroad. You're safe only if you decide to pursue your degree in countries to the likes of Japan, Korea, Russia, France and Germany where you have to learn their mother tongue. Even then, you still have to speak English in your daily conversation if you can't master the local language.
After graduating, what would be the next step? Of course, you'd have to find a job. Now here comes the best part, your interview will mostly be conducted in English. How would you be able to secure a job if you can't speak well during the interview? That is why, we always read in the newspaper that employers are lamenting about the quality of fresh graduates who can't even string a simple sentence when asked "What can you tell us about yourself?".
I used to not give a damn about our education system but eversince I have a son who's being victimized by the said system, I am starting to care. It's not about getting straight As or getting to be in the top three or being in the top class. It's about enjoying the lessons that's being taught, it's about gathering knowledge that is being passed down and it's about using the knowledge that they have for the better good of mankind. Isn't that what education is all about? And isn't learning a lifelong process? Even my dad who is 72 years old, still goes to classes to learn more about Islam, picks up the dictionary when he doesn't understand some bombastic words that his eldest son writes in his columns in the NST and picks my brain and B's with regard to any latest technology.
It's frustrating when our small voices are not heard or our opinions are being put down when it comes to decide what's the best way to educate our young and suddenly, KABOOM... a final decision has been made. But, isn't that always the way with our country? :P
As for Zareef, he'll be in for a BIG surprise. As it is, he's doing very well in his class, getting straight As with a 99 for Science for two terms. His BM is a bit rusty. He can read but he doesn't understand some words. Like the other day, we were cruising around Cyberjaya and passed Taman Tasik Cyberjaya. He read it and asked "Tasik tu apa Mommy?". "It's lake, Zareef". B and I looked at each other and started to shake our heads. B said "Zareef will have a HARD time when he has to learn Math and Science in BM. Sekarang ni pun you dok ajar BM kat dia in English". Well, at least I'm teaching him, aren't I?
Oh well, life goes on and I shall continue to teach BM in English to Zareef.
"Anggur tu apa Mommy?". "Anggur tu grapes". "Ohhh..." (jawapan default Zareef)
"Berdisiplin tu apa Mommy?". "Berdisiplin is you have to obey rules and behave yourself. Listen to what adults tell you". "Ohhhhh".
"Mempelam tu apa Mommy?". "Mempelam tu mango". "Ohhhh..."
See? Now please tell me, who will suffer at the end of the day??