Just when we thought the PPSMI things had settled down, those not happy with the abolition are planning a national rally in Pj on March 10. The PAGE boss wrote in the Sunday Star with a thinly veiled warning to the Government not to toy with education. While I agree with her that the government should not experiment with the future of our children but there are a few things that she wrote that can be disputed. For a start religious schools with science at the core has been introduced by the government many moons ago. All those schools with the tag SBPI (moniker for sekolah berasrama penuh integrasi) are religious schools offering compulsory science subjects.
Somehow PAGE simply assume that by learning maths and science in BM, people won’t be reading foreign scientific magazine and journals (especially those in foreign languages mainly English). This is rather simplistic view. Any science student at tertiary level or scientists worth his/her salt would be reading all sorts of journals.
I still cannot comprehend with the notion that a nation cannot progress without learning maths and science in English in schools. UK schoolchildren have been learning maths and science in English for ages but they are a nation in a decline. For that matter, I was made to understand the Philipines, Jamaica, Barbados are using English in schools without much success. The likes of Korea, Japan, German, Finland, Sweden progressed by leaps and bounds without having to resort to using English to learn maths and science in schools. No doubt English is being emphasised but only as a subject in its own right. Basically this is what the Education Ministry is doing – providing bigger emphasis on teaching and learning of English.
A couple of years after PPSMI was introduced, I had a conversation with one of the principal of boarding school in Perak. He was lamenting on the struggle faced by his students to grasp the scientific concepts in English. Most of his students were from the rural areas. He was saying, the students could get a much better results if they do not have trouble grappling with their English.
Well, the raging debate can go on for ages, but I do not think it is fair to blame the May 13th, 1969 as the reason for the Government switching the medium of instruction in schools. They were other reasons as cited in Laporan Razak. Neither it is fair to blame the Government for parents not having a say in their children’s education. The parent teacher association is an open avenue for parents to participate. Unfortunately, from my experience, many PTA events are poorly attended by parents.