I REFER to “Longer hours for English in schools next year” (Sunday Star, March 21). In place of the Teaching of Science and Maths in English, better known as PPSMI, our Education Ministry has introduced the policy “Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening the Command of English” which abbreviates into the tongue-twisting Malay acronym “MBMMBI”.
There are obvious flaws in this new policy which the ministry should address.
Firstly, every linguist will tell us that the way to mastering any language is through exposure, exposure and exposure.
PPSMI exposes students to English and allows them to practise English by application. Eliminating PPSMI and introducing MBMMBI will reduce English exposure time from 41% to 21% of total learning time. There is no other exposure time to English in national and vernacular schools.
Thus, MBMMBI will further weaken the command of English of our future generation. Evidence of this is obvious as since Bahasa Melayu replaced English as the medium of instruction in schools in the early 1970s, the standard of English of Malaysian students has dropped drastically to the extent that even local university graduates are rendered unemployable due to their poor English communication skills.
Secondly, MBMMBI will totally eliminate scientific English and replace it with “scientific” Malay words, the majority of which are actually nothing more than “Malay-fied” English terms such as oksida, fotosintesis, silinder, etc.
Many Malaysian students are currently experiencing difficulties coping with tertiary studies where English is the medium of instruction.
Thirdly, MBMMBI intends to introduce mathematical and scientific terms in English lessons to make up for the loss of PPSMI. But this will only serve to pressure and burden our teachers.
Fourthly, under MBMMBI, Bahasa Melayu would be the only main language spoken and mastered and English would be relegated to a distant second place.
As it is, Bahasa Melayu nationalists have labelled English as a colonial language and criticised those who want to learn in English as traitors. Unfortunately, there will be some hapless rural and urban folk who will be influenced and misguided by these “patriots”.
Incidentally, the Hong Kong government has just announced that half of its secondary schools will switch the medium of instruction from Mandarin to English, including specifically, the teaching and learning of science.
We parents must insist on a resolution to maintain PPSMI in our children’s schools at the next AGM of our Parent-Teachers Association.
DATIN NOOR AZIMAH ABDUL RAHIM,
Parent Action Group for Education.