Jaya, Sunday): DAP welcomes the Gerakan stand opposing the move to teach
mathematics and science in English from Standard One for national, Chinese and
Tamil primary schools from next year.
Yesterday, I had called on the Chinese-based Barisan
Nasional parties which had failed on Friday, after three months and three
meetings, to hammer out a consensus
on the issue to make “a right, rational and quick decision” to reject the proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in Chinese primary
schools from Std. One, because it is educationally unsound, and that the same
principle extends to national and Tamil primary schools as well.
Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, who
announced the Gerakan central committee’s decision, should be commended for belatedly recognizing that the
proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in primary schools from
Std. One is not only disastrous for pupils of
national and Tamil primary schools, but doubly disastrous for pupils of
Chinese primary schools which had consistently achieved higher standards in
these two subjects as compared to
the other medium streams, including English primary schools before they were
abolished in the mid-Seventies.
I am disappointed
however that Keng Yaik has not shown greater
humility in at least admitting that he was wrong in attacking Chinese
educationists for being “language and education extremists” for opposing the
proposal and giving his support to warnings of strong actions, including the use
of the Internal Security Act, by UMNO leaders and
his baseless attacks on the DAP, even if he is not prepared to publicly
apologise for these and other Gerakan actions, including the totally
opportunistic statement by the Gerakan Deputy President Datuk Kerk Choo Ting
that “if there is a need to change, lets all change together”.
Be that as it may,
now that Gerakan has seen the “light” that there is no educational
justification for the proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science
in primary schools from Std. One, the MCA, MIC, SUPP, SAPP and other Barisan
Nasional component parties should convene emergency meetings to take a common
position in the best interests of the young school-going generation and that of
The Cabinet on
Wednesday should take the policy decision to suspend the
decision to use English to teach mathematics and science in primary
schools from Std. One in national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools and to
allow for the fullest discussion and study by all political parties, educational
organizations and Malaysians concerned about education as to what are the best
ways to raise the standards of English, mathematics and science in primary and
decision on July 19 to use English to teach mathematics and science for Form One
and Lower Sixth next year can remain, as it is only its introduction from Std.
One that is controversial as lacking in educational basis from studies and
research by educationists, whether international or local.
Keng Yaik said
yesterday that his party had spent a month studying the proposal to teach
mathematics and science in English, including referring to 12 books and working
papers presented by eminent local and foreign academicians on the topic and that
most studies had shown that a student should first have a strong command of his
mother tongue to learn science and mathematics effectively.
Keng Yaik should
send copies of these 12 books and expert working papers to the Education
Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad and all Cabinet Ministers before Wednesday.
In fact, DAP leaders had been making precisely these very same educational arguments in our opposition to the use of English to teach mathematics and science from Std. One. I had repeatedly in my media statement offered to give Musa and the Education Director-General Datuk Abdul Rafei Mamat educational studies world-wide showing that using a second language as a medium of instruction from too early stages can impede the development of thinking skills of students resulting in low achievements in mathematics, science and languages.
Keng Yaik should answer is why he
had been so irresponsible as to give support to the Cabinet decision on July 19
to start using English to teach mathematics and science for national primary
schools from Std. One from next year, and the tacit understanding that it would
also apply to Chinese and Tamil primary schools after the “political
problem” had been sorted out by Barisan Nasional non-Malay political parties,
without fully understanding its implications!
revelation has highlighted the unprofessional and most unsatisfactory manner
whereby important policy decisions
are made by the Cabinet – with
most Ministers acting as “yes-men” or “yes-women” supporting
new policy decisions without fully understanding the issues and the
implications involved, including endorsing
half-baked proposals which are educationally unsound!
has now realized the folly of using English to teach mathematics and science in
primary schools from Std. One, it has not addressed the urgent need to raise
English proficiency in the national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
At the Cabinet
meeting on Wednesday, Keng Yaik should present a working paper
to raise English proficiency in Chinese primary schools, which should
include the following four proposals:
The increase of the present teaching hours for English for the six years of Chinese primary schooling by two, three or even four times – which is still less than the quantum of time allocated to the teaching of English for the six years of primary education in national primary schools.
Training of 5,000 qualified English teachers for the 1,288 Chinese primary schools. According to the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010, for the year 2000, the teacher-pupil ratio in national primary schools was 18:1 while for Chinese primary schools the ratio was 23:1. There were 2,193,584 pupils in national primary schools with 121,021 teachers in 2000 compared to 622,712 pupils with 27,021 teachers in Chinese primary schools ( Jadual 2.1 and 2.2). If Chinese primary schools had the same teacher-pupil ratio of 18:1 as national primary schools, there would be 34,595 teachers or another 7,574 teachers from the actual number of 27,021 teachers.
Chinese primary school pupils sitting for the same UPSR English paper as those from the national primary schools.
Single-session schools for all Chinese primary school pupils. As the 600 single-session school building programme last year did not include a single Chinese primary school, a Cabinet policy must be made immediately to include Chinese primary schools in the single-session school programme to reduce the monstrous class-size in Chinese primary schools topping 55 pupils per class to 30 per class, to enable the restructuring of the school time-table.