Call for a “Love Malaysia, Save Malaysia” nation-wide campaign to uphold the 45-year Merdeka Constitution of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation, purge the international perception of Malaysia as a terrorist centre and establish a world-class education system of excellence
- Jelutong DAP Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): In a week’s time on January 6, schools will re-open after some two months of year-end school holidays. In the coming new school year, over half a million pupils will start formal schooling in Std. One in the national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and these will be the pupils who will suffer the most from the new educational experiment to teach mathematics and science in English in Std. One in the primary schools.
Chinese primary school Std. One pupils, who will be the “guinea-pigs” of the “2-4-3” formula to teach mathematics and science in English, will have to carry heavier school bags as compared to Std. One pupils of previous years – which were already too heavy and should have been lightened.
Worse, they will have to study longer hours in school, not only when compared to Std. One pupils of previous years, but also when compared to their counterparts in national and Tamil primary schools. What is more unbelievable, they will have even longer school hours than older pupils in Std. II to Std. VI in Chinese primary schools.
This is because starting next year, Chinese primary school pupils in Std. One will have 1,500 minutes or 50 class periods of 30-minutes each per week, as compared to 1,350 minutes or 45 periods a week previously and which is longer than the 1,440 minutes or 48 periods a week for Std. VI pupils.
Why should Std. One pupils study longer school hours than Std. VI pupils? Every ordinary Malaysian, whether parent or teacher, knows that it does not make any educational sense for Std. I pupils to have longer school hours than Std. VI pupils – except for the Education Ministry planners and administrators, the Education Minister himself and all the “big guns” in the Cabinet!
DAP opposes the “2-4-3” formula of Std. One pupils in Chinese primary schools, not because we oppose Std. One pupils learning English from Std. One – which we fully support and is long overdue – but because we do not believe that teaching mathematics and science in English from Std. One under our present education system is educationally sound or the best and most effective way to ensure higher proficiency in all the three subjects, viz. mathematics, science and English. If we want to teach mathematics and science in English from Std. One and achieve real good results, then we should revert to the previous English-medium schools which is known as the “full immersion” system in fully using English as the medium of instruction. Will the government propose a restoration of the English medium schools in Malaysia?
China is currently the country with the biggest English language learning fever in the world, spurred by three events: China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation, the hosting of the Olympics Games in Beijing in 2008 and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.
But there is another important reason for what has been described as the “insatiable appetite” for learning English in China – as a passport to a new world of employment, educational and entertainment opportunities.
Manila Times recently had an article comparing the Philippines, with 80 million Filipinos, “majority of whom can manage some English”, with China which was training 100 million Chinese to learn English.
The “Learn English fever” in China concerns not just millions or tens of millions but 100 million – or equal to five nations the population size of Malaysia!
The “Learn English fever” in China has reached such a pitch that it has produced the following:
However, I am not aware of any suggestion or proposal in China that mathematics and science in the primary schools, whether from the first year in school or in subsequent years, should be taught in English to raise the standards of mathematics, science or English in China!
This is why the DAP has come out with “Formua 1-2-3” – first, to enhance English proficiency; second, maintain the traditional high standards of mathematics and science; and third, preserve the character of mother-tongue education.
The question that should be asked is why the government is rushing headlong to implement the “2-4-3” proposal although there is strong criticism and opposition from Dong Jiao Zong, Chinese educational bodies and organizations and all thinking Malaysians, including Paul Chang, 84, the former Chief Inspector of Schools, Malaysia, retired Professor and Head of School of Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia and who was awarded “Toko Guru” by the Ministry of Education in 1987 in a recent article in Nanyang Siang Pau (25.12.02).
The answer is not to be found in education but in politics - the outcome of the 1999 general election results, with the DAP as the greatest casualty and the people losing a strong and respected voice in Parliament.
This is further evident in what is probably the most important development in education in the 45-year history of the nation – the establishment of the most high-powered education review committee under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad by the UMNO Supreme Council on November 29, completely by-passing the Cabinet which had not been able to discuss the matter in the past one month.
On Thursday, in an exclusive interview with New Straits Times, Mahathir spoke of two “hijackings” of the national education system from its original objective to cater to all races in Malaysia and alienating non-Muslims, viz:
What is most shocking is the total silence for the past month from MCA and Gerakan Ministers with not a single word from anyone of them either on the second Mahathir education review committee whether with regard to its agenda, composition or modus of operandi or Mahathir’s startling admission of the failure of the national education system for the past two to three decades as a result of the “double hijackings”. This conspiracy of silence of MCA and Gerakan Ministers is the latest demonstration of their having become political “mutes” in Malaysia on important issues affecting the people and nation.
These are not the only adverse outcomes of the 1999 general election results, others include:
All these years, DAP leaders have taken a clear-cut stand for justice, freedom, democracy, good governance, standing up for a Malaysian Malaysia, opposing communalism and extremism in any form, because of our sense of patriotism and love for the country.
DAP leaders can stand up and declare any time that they are more nationalistic and patriotic than MCA, Gerakan and even UMNO leaders for DAP leaders are in politics to fight for a just Malaysia and are prepared to lose their personal freedoms and endure other sacrifices for these ideals – unlike those in the Barisan Nasional who are in politics for position, preferment, titles or wealth.
Malaysians who have supported and voted for the DAP have down the decades do so out of their love and patriotism for Malaysia, for wanting the best for the nation and the people.
The time has come for a nation-wide “Love Malaysia, Save Malaysia” campaign to uphold the 45-year Merdeka Constitution of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation, purge the international perception of Malaysia as a terrorist centre and establish a world-class education system of excellence which can serve the twin objectives of forging national unity of our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious population and prepare Malaysians to meet the challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology.
This “Love Malaysia, Save Malaysia” Campaign should be the greatest test and challenge for all patriotic Malaysians in the new year, 2003, and be the centerpiece of the battle in the next general election, whether held before or after the OIC Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 24-25, 2003 – the date for the departure of Mahathir as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia after 22 years and 3 months in the highest office of the land.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman