Thursday, 1 January 2009

Mind Your Language

This is my first post of 2009 but it is not my own. I have cut and pasted from Syed Akbar Ali's "OutSyed The Box" blog. His blogpost, "Dato Hishamuddin Hussein: The Most Powerful Man In The Country" rings true (well maybe not the literal meaning of its title but...) and I too believe the future of our country depends not on patriotism, is not about ketuanan, nor is it about ‘matilah bahasa matilah bangsa’ etc. It is really about how we can move our younger generations up the learning curve as fast as we can. It is indeed simply for the survival of our people – all our people.

Please read:

Dato Hishamuddin Hussein : The Most Powerful Man In The Country
By Syed Akbar Ali

Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan yang saya hormati, the most powerful man in the country, who has the fate of our entire nation in his hands right now, is our Minister of Education Dato Hishamuddin Hussein.

This is because he has said that the decision to continue or discontinue the teaching of mathematics and Science in the English language in all our schools will depend on the results of this year’s PMR examinations. Well the results are in and (as I predicted to my good wife) the results show a preponderance for the English language (at least in Maths and Science) among our school children.

Here is today’s news, snipped for brevity:

Majority opted for English when answering Science paper

PUTRAJAYA: The percentage of students who answered the Science paper of this year’s Penilaian Me nengah Rendah (PMR) entirely in English rose by 138% compared with last year’s figure.

This is the first time ever that a majority of students had answered the paper in English.

This year, 51.2% of candidates cho se English, compared with 30.8% who answered in Malay and 18% who used a combination of both lan guages. Last year, only 21.5% of candidates answered the PMR Scien ce paper wholly in English.

Education director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom described the increasing trend of candidates using English as “very encouraging.”

He said the final decision on whe ther the subjects would continue to be taught in English rested with Education Minister Datuk Seri Hi sham muddin Tun Hussein.

The subject that showed the biggest improvement in performance was English – the pass rate increased by 3.6% from 71.2% in (2003-2007) to 74.8% this year.

“Students are more comfortable using the language as they have studied Mathematics and Science in English for three years,’’ he said when asked whether the improvement was linked to the policy of teaching both subjects in English.

Someday in the future, we will opt to teach all our subjects in Malay again. I have no doubt in that happening. But I strongly feel that day is still far off.

We need to really move our younger generations up the learning curve as fast as we can. The steepness of that learning curve depends on the language that we use. For the time being English makes the curve a lot less steeper. It is an easy climb. This is becoming true all over the world. In China the number of English speakers is increasing at an exponential rate. The ‘Indian miracle’ in India is because of English.

I really hope that the PMR results will help convince the Honorable Minister to maintain the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English. This is not about patriotism, this is not about ketuanan, this is not about ‘matilah bahasa matilah bangsa’ etc. It is simply for the survival of our people – all our people.

Please do the right thing.

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