Saturday, June 27, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim has suggested that both the “swine flu” and Influenza A(H1N1) terminologies be used by the media in reporting the disease.
This was a better and more accurate way of reporting the pandemic to the public, he said. He added that many international media organisations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America and Australian Broadcasting Corporation as well as search engines like Google and Yahoo were using the term swine flu.
“As a responsible ministry, we should use both terminologies when explaining the issue.
“We in the ministry will continue to use the easy-to-understand term. We will use the A(H1N1) terminology but for subsequent mentions, we will proceed with the term ‘swine flu’,” he told reporters after the launching of the “1Malaysia” logo by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here.
Rais said it would be up to the Health Ministry if it wanted to continue using the term Influenza A(H1N1) as stipulated by the World Health Organisation.
He also called on the media not to play up the swine flu issue as it could negatively impact the country, particularly its tourism sector.
Too much publicity would give the wrong impression among the public that the disease was more serious than dengue, which is still on the rise, he said. — Bernama
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and Neville Spykerman
KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — The teaching of maths and science in English the last six years has not improved the performance of students in those subjects, the education minister admitted today.
“There have been changes but the difference is nominal,” said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said there had only been a two to three per cent change since the policy was implemented in 2003.
The deputy prime minister was responding to a supplementary question by DAP’s Tan Seng Giaw in Parliament.
The Kepong MP said the policy had been in existence for six years and asked for the reports on its effectiveness to be made public.
The education minister also said that the government, after much delay, will make a decision on the issue by next month. It is expected to continue with the programme, while finding ways to accommodate differing views.
Muhyiddin's reply drew flak from opposition MPs, who accused the government of negligence for its refusal to shut the policy down despite admitting to having problems in implementing it.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad from PAS said it was obvious in the minister's response that the government is not fully prepared for the implementation of the policy and students are being victimised as a result.
"It is apparent that they are not fully prepared for this and have not taken into account the implication and the repercussion," he told a press conference in Parliament.
He added that it was absurd that the government realised the programme's failure only after six years it has been implemented.
"Don't make our children guinea pigs," said Khalid, adding that teaching maths and science in English won't upgrade students' English quality, suggesting that it would be better for the government to focus on getting the best teachers to teach the international language instead.
Some years ago, my friend interviewed a local graduate for pupilage. The interviewee spoke flawless Bahasa Malaysia. He carried himself well and answered all my friend’s questions confidently. Until, of course, my friend started speaking English. He asked the interviewee, “Why did you read law?” The interviewee looked into my friend’s eyes for a moment and appeared to be in deep thought. Finally he said, “Because I want pass my exam.”
Let’s face it. The standard of spoken and written English among our students nowadays is abysmal. I belong to the last batch of students in government schools from the “English stream”. That means we studied Maths and Science in English and took the “Lower Certificate of Education” in Form 3; the “Malaysian Certificate of Education” in Form 5 and the “Higher School Certificate” in Form 6. Even then, as I entered the university, I realised that my level of English proficiency was inadequate. My English was nowhere as good as the standard of English of students from urban areas and well-to-do families.
As a result I struggled. I had to take the English classes which were made compulsory for students like me. By the end of my first year, I realised that my English was going nowhere and it was not taking me anywhere either. With that realisation, I began to read a lot. I would even read the Star newspaper from the sport page down to the first page everyday with a dictionary in my hand. I would converse with all my friends and lecturers in English. By the end of the 2nd year, I had managed to answer half of my exam papers in English. Thus began my “English transformation”.
The proficiency in English among our students cannot be improved simply by teaching Maths and Science in English. To think that our students would be more proficient in English by learning Maths and Science in English is wishful at best and downright silly at the other extreme.
We are accustomed to knee-jerk reactions masked as “solutions” to every problem under the sun. And the latest is of course, solving the “English problem”.
When Mahathir Mohammad decided to preach for the teaching of Maths and Science in English during his tenure as the PM, one wonders what the objective was. What was the problem which was sought to be solved by that move? I am asking because I have so many contradictory answers.
The then Education Minister seemed to suggest that that move was taken to improve the standard of English among our pupils. On 23rd June however, the Malaysian Insider reported that:
“The teaching of maths and science in English the last six years has not improved the performance of students in those subjects, the education minister admitted today.
“There have been changes but the difference is nominal,” said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said there had only been a two to three per cent change since the policy was implemented in 2003.” (the full report is here).
So what was it? Was it to improve proficiency of English or to improve the students’ performance in Maths and Science? I have answered the earlier question. My opinion is that the standard of English is not going to improve just by teaching Maths and Science in English. As for the latter, if at all the DPM cum Education Minister did say that, I think he has totally missed the concept!
You don’t improve your performance in Maths and Science by changing the medium of communication in which you teach those subjects. Maths is Maths, regardless of whether it is in English, Arabic, Mongolian or Martian language. So is Science. If the Education Ministry had all these while been targeting to improve our students’ performance in Maths and Science by teaching these subjects in English, than I would say it has been a total waste of time, efforts and money.
As for the earlier objective of improving standard of English, who was the bright spark who thought that that objective could be met by teaching Maths and Science in English?
Proficiency in English is not acquired and will not ever be acquired by such method. In fact such move was more harmful to the students’ academic performance than it was helpful. The implementation of the whole policy, about 6 years ago, was to suddenly force students to take Maths and Science in English and the teachers to so teach them. Just imagine a Form 4 student. For the past 10 years, he was taught Maths in Bahasa Malaysia. He knew what “campur” and “tolak” were. Suddenly they respectively became “addition” and “subtraction”. And in science, “monoksida” and “reptilia” suddenly became “monoxide” and “reptile” respectively. Does that help him to be more proficient in English?
In July apparently the Government will announce its stand on this issue. God forbids if it decides to revert to teaching Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia, after about 6 years or so that Maths and Science are taught in English. Our children don’t deserve to be treated like some lab rats. They are not and should not be treated as some guinea pigs while our fickle-minded policy makers struggle even with the whole concept itself.
And the worst thing is that there is a niggly feeling that a political decision, as opposed to a diligent decision, will be made. This issue has somehow managed to become a political issue although it should not be one. This is not about the position of Bahasa Malaysia in this country. Worst still, this is not about the special “rights” or “position” of the Malays in this country.
To say that I am disappointed with the reasons given by the Pakatan Rakyat politicians and some academicians in opposing the Government’s move to teach Maths and Science in English would be an understatement. To these people I would like to appeal, please don’t turn this issue into a political one. And to the Government, please, for once, make the correct decision base on our conscience and the necessity to make our children better for their future as well as the future of this country.
To my mind, if the Government is serious at tackling this issue, it should really firstly, go to the ground and determine what the actual problem is. Then it should investigate the reasons for such problem. Only then it should consider the available solutions. When that is done, it should decide the methodology of implementing the solution(s).
There must however be room for improving the policy. The Government must be able to tweak the system every now and then if anything is found lacking or when such tweakage is necessary to yield improvements. But that doesn’t mean that the Government should be able to reverse its earlier decisions and make an about turn. Worst still, the Government should not let political pressure dictate such policy.
We, and our kids, have had too many of those. Our children should not be the sacrificial lambs, readily sacrificed for political survival or popularity. May I remind that our children’s education has been entrusted by the people to the Government. And the people expect that trust to be performed diligently, unemotionally and honestly.
Encik M Bakri Musa posted a comment on my article at the Malaysian Insider. He asked me what, in my opinion, should be done.
Well, I cannot confess to have an answer to that question because I do not have sufficient facts of the problems as well as the cause for such problems. However, if we are talking about improving the standard of English, written and spoken, of the students, the first that I would do is to adopt a holistic approach towards solving that problem.
The objective must then be to improve such standard. The time within which to achieve that objective should be as soon as practicable. Then a suitable English syllabus designed to teach our students English as a business language (or as a second language, communication language – depending on the objective) should be drawn up with the help of experts. After that we would have to train the teachers. And list out and prepare all the materials which we need. Only after all these are met should we start introducing the lessons. It must begin at Standard One.
It must be holistic. We should not, with a view of a quick fix, start imposing things without much thought.
In addition, a new culture must be started. It would include inculcating our children the love for books (in English, preferably). They must be encouraged to converse and write in English. It will take time and a lot of efforts. But if that is what is needed, than we would owe it to our children to do it.
Teaching Maths and Science in English alone will not bring us anywhere.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By : MARISA DEMORI, Ipoh
I STRONGLY object to the statement by Hashim Adnan, president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, that "Teaching has lost its appeal because it is perceived as a woman's job." (NST, June 21).
The problem is teachers, the Education Ministry and parents have lost sight of the job description attached to the profession of a teacher. As a result, the teaching profession has been expanded, enlarged and extended to include duties and responsibilities that have nothing to do with the actual job of educating children.
A teacher is not someone entrusted with the moral education of a child and with inculcating discipline or the rigours of military-style training. Rather, a teacher is a person who facilitates the acquisition of knowledge.
A teacher is the means by which the education system can ensure that students learn the contents of the syllabus established as necessary for the background knowledge of each student in order to proceed with his studies and also advance in life.
A teacher relies on textbooks and workbooks to deliver knowledge. Therefore, good textbooks are essential for them to carry out their work adequately. The teacher also regularly gives tests and examinations to make sure that the students know the syllabus.
If a teacher wants to have good students, she must have been a good student previously and done well academically. The sound academic record of a teacher is proof that she has what it takes to impart knowledge to others.
The acquisition of knowledge is best achieved when the teacher is patient, caring and understanding. The quality of understanding, in particular, is dictated by love, and since women have more love in their hearts than men, they are better suited to be teachers.
Besides facilitating the acquisition of knowledge, another essential task of the teacher is to determine the child's abilities and to spot and help develop his talent. A teacher is best suited to do this because she sees many students and thus becomes a good judge of character. Additionally, a teacher is impartial.
A teacher's assessment, on the other hand, is based on experience and backed by the child's performance in school and his test results. Assessing a child's ability correctly is vital so that the child can pursue the right career in life.
There is no doubt that women make better teachers. Being mothers, women are naturally inclined to empathise with a child's needs in the classroom. Women are also more observant, meticulous, and better organised than men. They are also better communicators, listeners and speakers. All of these are qualities necessary to a teacher. There are many jobs men can do better than women but when it comes to teaching, women have the undisputed advantage.
Teaching is not a difficult job when the right tools and the right environment are at hand. An experienced teacher will certainly find her task fairly easy to perform because teaching is a repetitive job. Monotony is probably the greatest danger to the teacher as it can make her lose focus and concentration. Thus, the biggest challenge for the teacher is not to teach, but to make sure that she keeps on teaching.
The teaching profession is suited to women because many of them are married and have families. After spending half day in school, they still have enough time to be with their families.
I believe the ministry has incorrectly interpreted the job description of teachers and thus unnecessarily extended their workload and working hours.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A record one billion people are undernourished around the world, the UN food agency said Friday, blaming the global financial crisis for a surge of more than 100 million hungry since last year.
Deploring "the biggest ever year-on-year increase" in world hunger, Jacques Diouf, the head of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told a news conference: "One in six human beings does not have access to food."
The FAO chief called for a "new world food order" enshrining the "right to food and thus the right to exist," urging stepped-up investment in agriculture.
Some three weeks ahead of the Group of Eight wealthy nations' summit in Italy, Diouf said: "The problem of food security is a political one. It's a question of priorities on the world agenda."
Josette Sheeran, head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), recalled food riots in several developing countries in the past two years and warned at the same news conference: "A hungry world is a dangerous world."
"With the right support, smallholder farmers can double or triple their yields," Sheeran said, adding: "Food has to be addressed as one of the pillar challenges that the world is facing."
Diouf said in a statement earlier: "A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty."
An FAO statement said 1.02 billion people do not get enough to eat and predicted an 11 percent increase for all of 2009.
An estimated 642 million of the total are in the Asia-Pacific region, the agency said in a statement. Some 265 million are in sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and 52 million in the Middle East and north Africa.
Some 15 million are hungry in developed countries, the FAO said.
"The most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment," the statement said.
The FAO had initially revised downward its estimate of hungry people from 963 million to 915 million because of a "better-than-expected global food supply," the agency said.
"Whereas good progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been slowly but steadily on the rise for the past decade," the FAO said.
"This year, mainly due to the shocks of the economic crisis combined with often high national food prices, the number of hungry people is expected to grow overall by about 11 percent," the agency projects.
"The silent hunger crisis... poses a serious risk for world peace and security," the statement warned. "We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions."
It noted that poor consumers spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on staple foods.
The agency will release its annual State of Food Insecurity in the World report in October.
During a Rome summit one year ago, FAO member states reaffirmed their commitment to halve world hunger by 2015, a Millennium Development Goal set in 2000 by the United Nations.
Diouf said last year that "with current trends, that goal will be attained in 2150, rather than 2015."
The food agency warned that "the urban poor will probably face the most severe problems in coping with the global recession, because lower export demand and reduced foreign direct investment are more likely to hit urban jobs harder."
However, it said, "rural areas will not be spared. Millions of urban migrants will have to return to the countryside, forcing the rural poor to share the burden in many cases."
By : DR HAJA MOHIDEEN MOHAMED ALI Department of English International Islamic University Malaysia
INTENSE debate has been generated over the issue of whether or not to make a pass in English compulsory in the Sijil Pelajaran Malay- sia examination. A pass could mean anything between 1A (very good) and 8E (pass). So, logically, all that is required for a pass would be to obtain a minimum 8E, which is a simple pass.
Should this be difficult for our students when learning English starts from the first year of primary education and, in some cases, before that in pre-primary education centres? If the proposal to secure a basic pass in the SPM examination is to be disputed, will this not be humiliating to our English language teachers or reflect poorly on them?
The extent of exposure to the language is, of course, not the same in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. The quality of English language teaching could also be different between the cities and small towns.
But we do not have to write off rural and small-town students when it comes to English. Maybe they deserve more credit than some of us would like to give.
Another issue at stake is, do we doubt the ability of our teachers that they cannot even produce pupils who can pass English with a minimum score?
Making English a compulsory subject to pass will bring many benefits. Students will not take this international language lightly. They will be better motivated to do well in this subject to be able to get into tertiary institutions which require English for entry purposes, to seek employment in the corporate sector, to travel, to live and work abroad, interact with a global community, enjoy world literature in the language, possess a broader world view and have greater self-esteem.
Teachers, for their part, will buck up to increase the pass rate in the subject to bring honour to their schools.
In the process, they will also be raising their professional competence. Parents will show more enthusiasm to see their children do well in the subject, just as they are concerned about other subjects.
Since issues involving English have become emotive and divisive lately, should we make English an optional subject in the SPM examination? In this way. those who favour English, for example in learning Science and Mathematics, can be left to carry on as before. There would be a choice for everyone.
However, my plea is to consider a simple pass in English as compulsory in the SPM examination. This would be a worthwhile pursuit for Malaysians of all educational persuasions.
KUALA LUMPUR 18 Jun - Gabungan Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia (Gapena) bersetuju dengan cadangan syarat wajib lulus Bahasa Inggeris untuk mendapat Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) sekiranya lapan tuntutan mereka dipenuhi kerajaan.
Ketua Satu Gapena, Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Hussein berkata, Jawatankuasa Kerja Gapena yang bermesyuarat hari ini telah bersetuju untuk menyatakan sokongan terhadap cadangan Kementerian Pelajaran itu dengan beberapa syarat dipenuhi terlebih dahulu.
Katanya, syarat-syarat tersebut adalah seperti berikut:
n Memansuhkan Pembelajaran Pengajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI) serta merta.
n Bahasa Melayu kekal sebagai bahasa pengantar bagi pendidikan awal sehingga ke peringkat pengajian tinggi.
n Kerajaan perlu memastikan tenaga pengajar Bahasa Inggeris yang mencukupi, berpengetahuan tinggi tentang strategi pengajaran dan pembelajaran, berketerampilan dan bersedia berkhidmat di luar bandar.
n Bahasa Melayu diwajibkan lulus peringkat kredit untuk mendapat SPM.
n Prasarana dan kemudahan alat bantu mengajar termasuk makmal bahasa yang mencukupi terutama di luar bandar.
n Syarat lulus Malaysian University English Test (MUET) untuk masuk ke pusat pengajian tinggi dibatalkan bagi pelajar yang lulus Bahasa Inggeris di peringkat SPM.
n Kesusasteraan kebangsaan dan mata pelajaran Sejarah dijadikan mata pelajaran wajib merentasi kokurikulum.
n Syarat wajib lulus Bahasa Inggeris boleh dilaksanakan setelah semua syarat di atas dipenuhi.
Bercakap pada sidang akhbar di rumah Gapena di sini hari, Ismail berkata, pihaknya telah membincangkan syarat itu secara mendalam dan berharap kementerian dapat memahami tuntutan tersebut.
''Gapena akan menentang cadangan syarat lulus Bahasa Inggeris itu sekiranya pihak kementerian tidak melaksanakan syarat-syarat tersebut,'' ujarnya.
Hadir sama pada sidang akhbar tersebut ialah Setiausaha Satu Gapena, Prof. Madya Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan dan Jawatankuasa Gapena, Datuk Dr. Aziz Deraman dan Datuk Tengku Alaudin T. A. Majid.
Syarat-syarat itu akan dimajukan kepada kementerian hari ini juga bagi mendapatkan maklum balas segera dan Gapena mengharapkan pihak kementerian dapat mengadakan perbincangan terbuka dengan pihaknya.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Two important decisions are to be made soon. Firstly, should English be made a compulsory subject to pass in SPM? The second is that whether the teaching of Mathematics and Science will continue to be in English or in Bahasa? On English as a compulsory subject in SPM, I feel that apart from Bahasa Melayu, English is the next important language that Malaysian students should be encouraged to be competent and fluent. English is also the de facto international communication language.
It cannot be denied that research and reference materials are in abundance in English, as compared with other languages in the world. Hence, studying and teaching a subject in English becomes easy and trouble free. The changes in the international communication and dealings have further strengthened the domination of English. The outsourcing, offshore dealings, the borderless trade arena and electronic business (e Business) activities have one thing in common. They all strengthen the dominance and the importance of English. Therefore, only those countries which have the capacity and capability, of being fully self relient and rich in all resources could afford to ignore the influence of English, i.e. Japan, China, Russia and France.
Unfortunately, we must admit that Malaysia has not reached that stage yet. The excuse that the rural students are weak in English is a delicate issue where the Education Ministry should come up with a practical solution. However, the agenda and the aspirations of the Malaysian Education System should not be compromised. I strongly believe that the students from the rural background would definitely perform well in English if it is made compulsory to pass. They would do whatever that is necessary to improve their English.
Fluency in and a strong command of English would be an added advantage to graduates in a highly competitive job market. I agree with those who say that the strong foundation in English would also give them self-confidence and self-respect. Unfortunately, there are many graduates of various ethnic origins who hesitate to communicate with others in English. The reason for this is that of having the phobia of speaking in English. The only way to change this for the betterment of these graduates is to change their mindset, attitude and the perspective of the students it is better to make English as a compulsory subject to pass at SPM level.
Meanwhile, on the issue of teaching of mathematics and science in English, I thnik we should take separate approaches when teaching the subjects as both subjects have different magnitude of English vocabulary. Mathematics is a subject that involves mainly figures. The command of English needed here is quite basic. Therefore, it is not taxing for the students to study Mathematics in English right from the standard 1 of primary school.
On the other hand, science is mostly theoretical which needs illustrations, descriptions and understanding of certain terminologies. Thus, a reasonable foundation in the English vocabulary and the knowledge of the so-called "bombastic" words are needed. Malaysian students would find it quite difficult irrespective of their geographical location and ethnic background. They would definitely face an uphill task of studying science from primary school. So, it is better to teach Science in English only from Form One of the secondary school (after the students have acquired the basic English needed to study Science). Finally, I feel the National Education Policy should pull up the students to meet its standards. It should not go down to the students’ level just to accommodate them.
Monday, June 15, 2009
By : HAYATI NORDIN, Subang Jaya
NO one who agrees that English is a global language can have anything against making it a compulsory language for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.
Claiming that teaching the language to rural students may pose problems is not a good reason for not doing so.
If rural students could do it 40 years ago, I don't see why the present generation can't do it as well. We have better facilities these days and extra classes could always be held for students who need them.
Other nations have forged forward with their English-proficiency programmes. Why are we still arguing about it?
Friday, June 12, 2009
I AM a third-year medical student studying in Universiti Malaya. As we read and hear about the endless debate over the issue of the English language and our education system, I would like to offer my perspective as a student on this issue.
I come from an SJK primary school, attended a government secondary school and completed the local matriculation course before entering university.
I realise that those who want less English in the education system are afraid that the Malay language will suffer. However, as a student, our official language, the status or importance of Bahasa Malaysia, has never been threatened.
It will always be our national language and I am proud of that, but it is not sufficient to only learn Bahasa Malaysia and neglect the other languages. And English is becoming a necessity if a country wants to ride the wave of globalisation.
Taking a walk down memory lane, we have Za’aba (Tan Sri Dr Haji Zainal Abidin Ahmad) who was known as the “peneroka tatabahasa Melayu” or the founder of Malay grammar. The Malay literature that he wrote is being used till this very day. His museum (Teratak Za’aba) in Bahau is a memorial of his contribution to this nation.
As we look at his education background, we discover that he was the first Malay from Negri Sembilan to have completed his Senior Cambridge. The museum contains beautiful letters between him and his children, written in English, Malay and Arabic.
Tunku Abdul Rahman, in his fight for Independence would not have made it had he not mastered the English language. Ambassadors and diplomats to foreign countries have to be able to speak English in order to communicate with people from other nations. The tourism industry in Malaysia would collapse without the English language.
Do we consider Za’aba or Tunku less of a Malaysian, less patriotic, or less united?
They were among the many reasons that Malaysia exists today. I daresay that the English language was one of the key tools to our Independence and our development right till today. To neglect the English language will only push us backward.
We must realise that Malaysia is a multi-cultural country with than over a hundred ethnicities and is therefore a multi-lingual country. Trying to unite races with one language alone is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. It will never work.
Entering first-year in university, we were shocked to see students mixing according to their ethnicity and the main dividing factor being our language of communication. Only a small group of students who spoke more than one language fluently was made up of students of different races. We all know the importance of inter-cultural understanding in unity; but how are we going to achieve that by only learning one language?
I say all this not to bring down the Malay language but to remind us that it is our duty as a responsible Malaysian citizen to improve ourselves in every way we can - including learning the other languages. To make English compulsory to pass SPM; to teach Science and Mathematics in English - is a step in the right direction.
Director of the Unity and Community Affairs Bureau,
Student Representative Council 2008/2009,
taken from www.thestar.com.my
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Well its about time the Education Ministry comes up with this idea. After all these years nothing much has been done to alleviate the weakness of our students in English. Yes is it true the Ministry implemented the PPSMI to help and prepare the students in the real world of science and technology which i think has helped a lot in improving students performance but if we look at the big picture it failed tremendously to help the majority of the students who have problems in the language itself. Let us reflect how much PPSMI has done to help the students especially those who are in the rural area? And not to forget the Science and Mathematics teachers. To what extent have their performance in the area of teaching english in science and mathematics improved?
From my observation, it is sad to say, they have learned nothing. After spending millions, the results do not reflect the amount of money and time we spent to help those teachers to use English to teach the subject. One of my students came to see me and complained about the teacher who used 100% BM teaching Biology. I couldnt answer her and it was quite an embarrassment to the teacher and to me as well. How can a class of weak students have the opportunity to improve if they are taught those subjects which sound gibberish to them?
Ironically , all the PPSMI teachers from my school failed in their PPSMI Exam conducted in the mid of June 2008. They either obtained Band 2 or 1. The passing band is Band 3. I was the Team Leader of a group of English teachers conducting Speaking Assessment to all the PPSMI in my areaand it 95% from nearly 1200 PPSMI teachers in my area,were unable to speak acceptable english during their speaking test. Based on feedbacks from the Writing Test , their performance were so bad . Even graduate teachers couldnt even string a good sentence. So E-Tems failed terribly and miserably in its quest to help those teachers.
While it is good that the government is willing to relax its stance on continuing PPSMI and try a new altenative, but we need to be mindful that whatever decision we are making, we cant afford to be make decision based on political views. If that the case, Im sure the implementation would fail. Whatever we do, it has to be for the sake of the children, not to involve politics. Lets there'll be no controversies otherwise it could jeopardise our aims to arm the students be it domestically or internationally.
One of the problems will be encounter in the initial stage of implementing the new alternative is that do we have enough manpower aka English teachers?? Of course our very own local universities offer TESL( Teaching of English as Second Language) to students but the question is how good they are ? Are they fully prepared? Or are they Linguistically Competent in teaching the language? Im not so sure about that. The reason is that most of the graduates are ill prepared.I was also horrified to learn that this local graduates are not competent. This is due to the fact that theire command of English is in question here. It is sad to see that Fresh TESL teachers nowadays are not on par. From my experience i notice that most of them whom i talked to were unable to use grammatically correct english while communicating with others. So it is not a surprise to read their writing piece with gross grammatical errors especially the "Subject Verb Agreement". It makes me wonder who is at fault here? The students? or the ministry? To me, in order to be an English teacher, there are many aspects we need to decide whether they are eligible. The most important element is their proficiency in all the four skills in English but i guess those people in the ministry have overlooked this important element and now they live to tell all about it. As a result they can barely make good public speeches and unable to use proper grammar due to their limited linguistic skills. So how are they going to teach appropriately??
1. Teach Grammar separately from the main English Language. As for now the teaching of English is merely on communicative English. So they students still are having hard time understand the structural part of it. At the moment schools are only alloted 5 periods of English subject. So it would be better if i considerable time to be allocated for teaching grammar as well.
2. Yes make it compulsory to pass English Subject . So students would be more motivated to learn the subject so they will be able to function domestically or internationally. Offer more perks for those who obtain distinction in that subject such as scholarships. loans and other things that they ministry see fit.
3. Similar to PPSMI , Im of the opinion that they ministry should allow a period or time, say make it 5 years to allow students to learn English and by the time they are sitting for SPM they will be able to pass the subject. So it will be fair for all. Otherwise the students in rural school would lose out to those in the Urbans.
4. Make sure that only genuine candidates to be given the opportunity to teach English. Only accept those who obtain A1 or A2 in their SPM or Band 4 onwards in MUET. Of course elegibility or assessment test must be conducted to ensure validity. Make sure they fully have operational command of the spoken language. It means they are able to handle communication in most situations, including unfamiliar or unexpected ones.and also ble to use accurate and appropriate linguistic resources to express complex ideas and concepts and produce extended discourse that is coherent otheriwise it would be impossible for them to deliver especially in the secondary school.
5. Teach English as a language and not as a subject. Make Malaysian interested in the language before getting to master English. This is the first priority the ministry has to deal with. Im sure they will get a lot of problems from other non governmental organisations such as GAPENA and the oppositions and in the end the Government will be branded as unpatriotic for deliberately worshipping or glorifying colonial language than its own . It means they are going to get less votes from the voters and BN cannot afford to take that chances. I know its a Herculean task,So please no politics.
Of course to implement this, it cannot be done overnight. Im sure it will be a success in future if all of us join hands to overcome whatever obstacles before us.
Many object to making English a ‘must pass’ SPM subject
By KAREN CHAPMAN
PETALING JAYA: Most of the 500 views received by the Education Ministry as at the end of office hours yesterday are against any move to make English compulsory in order to obtain the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate.
A ministry official said those who contacted the ministry wanted the status quo to remain.
“We started receiving telephone calls from 10am until 5.30pm yesterday,” she said.
From today, she said people could telephone the ministry’s hunting line at 03-7723-7070 with their views from 8am to 5.30pm.
“There are 27 lines and we have enough people manning them,” she said.
People can also e-mail their views to email@example.com or send a fax to 03-7710-8880.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said he was surprised to learn that English was not a “must pass” subject for SPM and wanted public feedback on the matter.
The Education Minister said it was a revelation to him as he had always thought that it was a prerequisite since students had to learn English in school.
He said he was also shocked to learn that national schools no longer taught English grammar.
Muhyiddin said students were now merely learning communicative English.
“This means they are picking up the language for communication purposes only,” he said, adding that almost 70% of students who take English passed the subject.
A pass in English has never been compulsory for SPM. Since 2000, a pass in
Bahasa Malaysia was sufficient to get the SPM certificate. Previously, a credit was a must.
English as compulsory SPM pass subject?By : Suganthi Suparmaniam
KUALA LUMPUR, Mon:
Should English be made a compulsory passing subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia? This is the question thrown to the public by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who wants to know if it should be done by the government.
He said it is also disturbing that grammar was not being emphasised in schools but rather its communicative aspects.
“I want to ask the public can we introduce grammar and make English compulsory to pass SPM. We want feedback,” he said in his speech before launching the Kirkby College Alumni Association inaugural general meeting today.
“I did not make any decision on it. I want to give a chance to the people to give their views. I will deliberate it in the ministry,” he added.
“Until now, we don’t have to pass English to get a SPM certificate. It’s not compulsory to pass English, let alone score credit or distinction,” he said.
Those who wish to give their feedback on the matter, can contact the ministry at 03-8884 6000 or visit the ministry’s website at www.moe.gov.my.
“It was very revealing to me. I thought you must pass English, but was told that we don’t have to,” he added.
On teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Muhyiddin said it is a critical issue and that he will make announcement in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the proposed move was backed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. The former Prime Minister said making it compulsory should be a pre-requisite, Farrah Naz Karim reports from PUTRAJAYA.
Dr Mahathir said mastering the language would not only better prepare Malaysian students for globalisation but give them an edge in securing jobs.
“(However at the end of the day,) it is up to parents to decide because it concerns the future of their children, not that of the government.
“Without a strong command of the language, it will be difficult for them to study abroad or secure good jobs as they would be required to be able to converse well in the international language,” he said after being conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Humanity by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, today.
However, Dr Mahathir anticipated that the proposal would be strongly opposed by those only interested in pushing for their political mileage and not in the quality of education.
“These people are not interested in (our children’s) education or acquiring knowledge. All they want to do is to see how much support they can get. I am afraid if they do that (reject the stress on English), the country will go to the dogs,” he said.
On the government’s pending decision on the Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI), Mahathir said he would feel sorry for the younger generation if the government decided to revert to teaching the subjects back to Bahasa Malaysia.
“If that is the case, in future, all Malays and Malaysians will be “bodoh” (dumb),” he said.