Salam’alaikum warahmatuLLAHi wabarakatuh to dear visitors,
I’m sure that every one of us notices that people are now putting their attention to the PPSMI (Teaching & Learning Science and Mathematics in English) issue, and everyone reacts differently towards it. Some see it in a positive way meanwhile some other individuals are more focused into seeing the downside of implementing the so-called program, where primary and secondary school students are to learn Mathematics and Science in English. The issue has been around for quite some time, and we have seen many responds regarding it. I would love to express my own opinion and thoughts about this.
Many of us agree that English is one of the crucial tools needed to be mastered by students, especially in the situation where we are now experiencing the heat of globalization. Everything – the source of information are now mainly interpreted in the English Language. Computer software, machineries, internationally-recognized trusted reference books etc. – they are all written in the lingua franca, the main foreign language known as the English Language. It is almost undeniable and inarguable that English Language is important in the current days. It is almost a compulsion to at least know the basics of it, as trades, finances, and almost everything that had to do with our daily lives deals with the English language.
Although many ‘seems-to-be-good’ reasons have been used as arguments to strengthen the importance of implementing the program, still – there is one question need to be answered. Is it really that necessary for us to *force (I can’t seem to find anymore words that would fit in this statement ) our children to learn the subjects that most of them consider as killer subjects in a language that most of us find hard enough to be mastered? Is it really a must or are there any obligations that would force us to implement such a program just because we think it might help to maintain our survival in the globalization era?
There are some aspects need to be looked at:
1. It seems that most people who rejects the idea of PPSMI come from the line of academicians and experts, with names like Dato’ A.Samad Said, Dato’ Dr Hassan Ahmad, Dr Shaharil Mohamad Zain, Prof Emeritus Abdullah Hasaan, Prof Emeritus Dato’ Nik Safiah Karim Datuk Dr. Hassan Ahmad, Prof. Dr. Shahrin Md Zain, Prof. Abdullah Hassan, Ainon Mohd, and Prof Diraja Ungku Aziz.
2. After six months being implemented in schools, PPSMI was said to be still not effective and seems to be problematic. The UPSR results of 2008 has shown that only 31.1% (159,234) students, less than half portion of overall 511,875 primary six students answered in English Language for Science. That means, the majority number of 68.9% (352,641) of these students did their Science papers in Bahasa Melayu, not in English Language.
3. For mathematics alone, less than half the number of students sitting for the UPSR answered in English Language. Only 46.6% (238,153) students from 511,499 answered in English.
4. Both point 2 and 3 show that a number of 352,641 students were unable to answer in English, and 273,346 of them weren’t capable of understanding what they learn in Mathematics as the subject was taught in the English Language. (This means, the cause of this dilemma is the subject itself being taught in the language that not many of the students could understand. Say, if we were to teach students in England in Bahasa Melayu medium, the situation would be pretty much the same.)
5. Studies being carried out by a team of researchers consisting of 7 higher academic institutions (UPM, UiTM, UPSI, USM, UUM, UMS and UTM), and other academic bodies concluded that PPSMI has failed to bring benefits to students, especially Malay students in schools located in the rural areas. For instance, it was found that the percentage of students who failed (gets D and E) in SPM 2007 exceeds 50%, and this number includes Malay students in Sekolah Berasrama Penuh and MRSM – especially in these two subjects - Mathematics and Chemistry.
6. Two different studies done by (a) Prof Emeritus Dato’ Isahak Haron from UPSI in January 2008 and (b) Prof Datin Juriah Long from UKM basically give the same results, almost similar to the results obtained from the study being conducted in point 5. (* (a) involves 1703 primary five students and 1692 teachers from 28 different primary schools, and (b) study involving students studying in Form 2 from 242 secondary schools nationwide, 7236 students, 707 and 701 teachers for Mathematics and Science respectively.
One thing’s for sure, the decline or rise of students’ performance curve in Mathematics and Science should not be taken as a base or benchmark to determine the implementation of the program in the education system. I may not be the right person to explain in detail regarding the rationality of using English Language as a tool for learning Science and Mathematics. At the end of this entry, there will be a number of links of credible sources attached that might help to explain the cause.
Personally, I find that;
(a) There should be other ways of strengthening English Language among students. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to change and renovate the system all over. Incentive programs, campaigns etc. are some of the good ways to encourage people especially students to master English language. Changing the system that has been ran for years with a new one without careful planning would be catastrophic / disastrous.
(b) It would be wise and practical to follow advice from experts and academicians, rather than nodding to everything being told by someone who has the power but don’t know much about the things he say. Experts and academicians know best. Power sometimes doesn’t really mean that you know all and you know better.
(c) It was proven that the program brings less benefits rather than the damage it had caused. The future of thousands of students was almost bleak as many of them failed in Mathematics and Science just because the subjects were taught in a rather different language than their mother tongue. The decline of examination performances as a result of carrying out such program into schools can be seen as a failure of the program itself.
In short, the so-called PPSMI being brought into the education system can be seen as an implementation without careful planning, thus causing chaos within the system itself – resulting in huge number of students failing in important subjects such as Chemistry and Mathematics. We say that we need more professionals, scientists and experts in the future, but then at the same time we took away the chances by causing disruption in the education system and the society. What do we have to say for ourselves?
P/S: An attempt to write in English, as a proof that we don’t necessarily need PPSMI to be good in English Language! I learnt Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Melayu when I was still in school, and AlhamduliLLAH, I am still able to write and speak well in English (don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to brag). Say NO to PPSMI!
Other entries, in response to the issue:
Tamatkanlah PPSMI : click here
Bantah PPSMI : click here
Menolak Usaha Meneruskan PPSMI : click here
Ibn ‘AbdiLLAH As-Sarawaki,
5th March 2009, Thursday,