(Penang, Tuesday): The Malaysian national education system is in
the worst mess in the 44-year history of the nation.
The appointment of a non-politician and a former academician to the post
of Education Minister after the 1999 general election has failed to restore
confidence in the quality of the national education system as there appears to
be even more “politics” under a non-politician Education Minister as
illustrated by the Aku Janji pledges imposed on university academicians and
students in utter disregard of the principles of academic freedom and excellence
as well as the
“politicization” of education in the Damansara Chinese Primary School
and Vision School issues.
In the past month alone, there have been three
raging controversies affecting education, viz:
The Education Ministry has not acquitted itself creditably in all these three raging controversies.
The Government, and in
particular UMNO, lack the political
will to take drastic measures to check the 30-year decline in
the standard of English in Malaysia.
On 6th May,
the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government
was willing to re-introduce the English-medium school system to arrest the
decline of the standard of English “if the people want it”.
On 8th May,
Mahathir said the Cabinet had at
its weekly Wednesday meeting the day before discussed the re-introduction of the
English-medium school system to arrest the decline in the subject, but it was
not discussed at length as “we want to hear what the people have to say on the
subject” and that the government was serious about getting public reaction on
May, Mahathir said the UMNO supreme council at its three-hour meeting had
decided that it was unnecessary to re-introduce the English-medium school system
and proposed instead that science and mathematics be taught in English starting
from Standard One.
May, the Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad confirmed that science and
mathematics will be taught in English and said a committee had been set up under
the Education director-general Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat to determine how and when
it could be implemented.
The Deputy Education
Minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin said on the same day that the Education
Ministry was prepared to begin translating into English the science and
mathematics textbooks for Standard One pupils.
questions arise from this chronology of events:
UMNO Supreme Council can disregard the views of the other Barisan Nasional
component parties, but it cannot treat the views of the Malaysian people with
contempt – inviting them to give their views on whether
English-medium school system should be reintroduced to integrate with the
new global economy and then shutting out the people’s views in a matter of
days without any serious attempt to receive and consider public feedbacks.
Cabinet meeting tomorrow should decide:
school educationists and parents
are rightly concerned about the extension of the UMNO Supreme Council proposal
to teach mathematics and science in English to the Chinese primary schools, and
if the UMNO Supreme Council proposal has become a fait accompli, then the
Cabinet tomorrow should take the policy to exempt the Chinese primary schools
from this new rule.
the most sensible thing for the Cabinet to do tomorrow is to set up an all-party
committee to invite public feedback on how best to resolve the unchecked decline
of the standard of English for the past 30 years, and to come out with its
recommendations in nine to twelve months.