Thursday, May 07, 2009

PPSMI IN A LIMBO

PPSMI is heading to its early demise now. People are talking about the pros and the cons. The government is trying to persuade and convince the publics pertaining to its relevance in this time of science and technology and globalization era. Where as the Opposition doesn’t share the same view and trying to capitalize the issues for political mileage. We see lots of demos around KL lately protesting the use of English in teaching and learning Science and Math Subjects. These people are willing to go all out to the extent of making themselves heard clearly by DYMM. Ironically this was not the case when PPSMI was proposed and implemented during Tun Mahathir. Why now? Why making it a fuss after all these years? Lots of money spent and not to mention the effort made by the teachers and all educators. We are already half way reaching our goal and all of a sudden we are being forced to pack up and leave.

People were so happy and excited about it. We were excited as well! Mind you the extra 5% incentive being credited into our salary. Teachers received the much awaited “state of the art” so called teaching and learning devices namely the laptops and lcd projectors. The government had to spend nearly a billion ringgit just to make that first few small steps towards academic excellence. It was a blessing for all the teachers nationwide. All of the sudden we were showered with devices which we would never dreamt of owning what more to buy them?? It was expensive buying a laptop during those days. The cheapest would cost around RM4500. But now it becomes a toy. Ironically I don’t own a laptop myself . I was one of the lucky teachers given the opportunity to use the devices. And I got a MAC IBOOK G4 and boy it was durable. Been using it for more than 6 years now and it is still in good shape except for the LCD Projector which is not working maybe due to the Bulb which has reached its life expectancy. 5% incentive is not much compared to 10% received by non graduate teachers but it was enough to lend us some sort of support in sustaining our monthly needs. Well, we were not let off the hook so easily. It comes with a price and its not for free. English teachers like us were given the task to supervise math and science teachers to build their confidence in using English in their lessons. Besides that we were also instructed to give courses and support groups call “Buddy Support Group” Well there is no such thing as free meal! Still the money is good. Throughout the implementation since its inception we heard grouses from the teachers. They had a hard time to get use themselves with the new environment. Though not all but quite a number of the teachers failed miserably in the process. E-TEMS were introduced to train them. Lots of money spent but the results were bad. Teachers having mental block unable to follow the course. Their motivations were somehow gradually failing on them and they turned to teaching in Bahasa Melayu. Last year, PPSMI teachers went for an assessment test/ The test was more or less similar to MUET examination format testing their 4 skills and I was one of the examiners who were given the task to supervise a group of examiners in my district. We were utterly shocked by the encounter. Just imagine, majority of them unable to speak with grammatically correct English. Worst still quite a number if them could only speak at phrase level. I don’t have the stats. Only the Ministry has it and they should know by now the level of proficiency among the PPSMI teachers in Malaysia. Based from the feedback from other examiners they also did poorly in written test. So this is the real situation suffered by PPSMI teachers. Maybe based on these feedbacks the GMP is harping on this issue to end PPSMI for good .As for me PPSMI is not that bad after all. It is a fact English is the common language used worldwide. Many parents see its benefit. It is just that many people are just reluctant to see its importance or plain ignorance or they are having personal agendas.I do not know. One should master the language in order to capitalise knowledge and information . Many parents want it to continue too. Malaysians need to move forward as knowledge society. PPSMI should be continued but of course the Education Ministry must try to look into the real problem affecting the implementation of PPSMI. My suggestion is gearing up the teachers themselves is the best possible solution in order to make PPSMI a success. Lavishing them with laptops is not important but the change of mindset is. Gudluck MOE!

The chinese in Malaysia Part 2

Pt 2: A Very Brief History Of The Malaysian Chinese

Taken from:
http://notsleepinganymore.blogspot.com


Chinese Immigrant Society


Not many Malaysians today realise that the majority of the early Chinese immigrants to Malaya were the underclass of society then.

With no rights and no money to protect them, the Chinese immigrants were an extremely vulnerable section of society. They were not citizens and therefore it was easy to get away with abusing them or to take advantage of them, as they would get no legal recourse or protection from the government. Many of them arrived with only the clothes on their backs, having given their last copper coins or borrowed heavily to pay for passage to Malaya, so there was no way to get home if things turned sour – which it often did. It was a make or break, “get rich or die trying” choice for many of the Chinese who came to Malaya.

Chinese immigrants could be broadly divided into the educated classes and the uneducated classes. But the majority of the Chinese immigrants were from the uneducated classes, recruited to work mainly in the tin mines and construction sector.


A. THE UNEDUCATED CLASSES

It was a hard life for many of these people. Instead of rich prospects they expected, many were subject to the life of indentured labourers – little more than slaves. For the towkays and Tuans, the masses of desperate Chinese immigrants arriving on Malayan shores was a godsend because it ensured a never ending supply of cheap labour. And these people PAID FOR THEMSELVES to come to Malaya to work.

But instead of leading a better life, many Chinese lived a hard and dangerous life. Labour laws did not apply back then. You either did the work at whatever pay the boss wanted to give you, or you could find your own way and figure out a way how to get out of your massive immigration debts yourself. Safety was also the labourers own responsibility as the bosses had little economic incentive to safeguard their workers.

So instead of moving up in society, many Chinese found they had stumbled into another society where they remained at the bottom. Their situation was made worse since they were far from home and family support, and had no chance of turning back. This sense of uprootedness and helplessness gave rise to many social problems as many Chinese chose to take out their frustrations in various ways – fights, family abuse, opium addiction, gambling, drunkenness, prostitution, etc.

But there were also many who didn't give in to despair and continued to hope for a better life. These Chinese immigrants quickly learnt to practise the Confucian values of adaptation and quiet submission to minimise their society's negative impact on their lives. At the same time, they patiently and diligently did their work and kept a sharp eye out for any opportunity that might arise. When opportunity did arise, they were ready and quick to grab it. Several of these people would later rise to become the new tycoons of Malaya. Lim Goh Tong is one of the most notable among these people – he was nothing more than a mere construction worker when he arrived from China.

Despite the social problems, the Chinese community was still left to fend for themselves by the authorities. Being non-citizens, they were of no interest to them unless their unrest spilled outside of their own communities. So the task of maintaining order fell onto the shoulders of the Chinese themselves. Thus, the Chinese immigrants community was forced to evolve its own social structure.

But more on that topic later.


B. THE EDUCATED CLASSES

Many from the educated classes - scholars, teachers, artists, doctors, traders etc – also migrated to Malaya to escape the unrest in China. Some came on humanitarian grounds because they saw a need to support the immigrants who had come before. Some came to take advantage of the opportunities their skills would open up for them among the immigrant Chinese community.

Whatever their motives, this class of people played a major role in developing Chinese immigrant society. They provided education, healthcare, entertainment, employment opportunities and civic leadership, which helped bring about stability within the community.


C. THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION TO THE IMMIGRANT CHINESE

Most of the uneducated immigrants held these people in high regard, especially teachers, as they saw that they were subject to a life of hardship because of their illiteracy. Back in China, education was an extremely valuable commodity that was out of reach of the peasants. Traditionally, an education would open the doors to 2 main career paths – business or civil service (and these two paths frequently intermingled). Whichever path one chose, it was a way to riches and success. And those who were illiterate were often intimidated by the educated classes, who cheated them with unfair contracts, kangaroo courts and such abuse that took advantage of their ignorance.

It was hard for most at the bottom-of-the-foodchain to afford an education in China. And most coolies and peasants had to have every available hand in the family working to survive – so few could afford to let go of their children to go to school. What made it more difficult was their social standing – the poor were very aware of their place in society and even if they could afford it, it would be extremely difficult to be enrolled in a school as they would be looked down upon. So societal rules effectively kept the poor uneducated in their place.

But in Malaya, the Chinese had a fighting chance to access education. Chinese societal rules were not so entrenched in the immigrant society. Many poor parents worked hard and sacrificed much in order to afford the school fees so that their children could have an education.

Because with even a basic education, their children could at least have a chance to access better opportunities. Even entry level employment such as becoming clerks or shop assistants was a a far better deal than what their parents had to accept. Although many children did not or could not complete their studies, it was a typical parents' dream to have their children study to as high a level as possible, so that they could access more opportunities.

To this day, education is still a major issue among Malaysian Chinese. The same attitude of their immigrant forefathers has been deeply driven into the psyche of many 2nd and 3rd generation of Malaysian Chinese (especially those from Chinese-stream schools). That's why many Malaysian Chinese parents will willingly sell or re-mortgage their homes, take up part-time jobs or businesses, or borrow money to pay for their children's education.

Ask any typical Malaysian Chinese parent - they will expect nothing less than excellent exam results from their children. And the rationale for this still remains the same – “study hard, get a good qualification so that you can have a better life than your parents, and your parents will do whatever it takes to support you”.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The History of Chinese in Malaysia Part 1

I came across to a political blog recently called "Eyes wide Open". Love to read his side of the story pertaining to the latest happenings in Malaysia and the latest updates of the country's political situation. One of the writings in his blogs is concerning the Chinese in Malaysia who have been widely prejudiced and mis judged of their existence in Malaysia. Here take a read of what this blogger has to say .....

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pt 1: A Very Brief History Of The Malaysian Chinese

taken from ..... http://notsleepinganymore.blogspot.com/

Many Malaysians today regard the Chinese as the dominant economic force in Malaysia. Some have even accused the Malaysian Chinese of wanting to not only dominate the economy but also the politics of the country. This has given rise to various unpleasant stereotypes of the Malaysian Chinese. As a result, many reactionary insults and derogatory terms have been hurled at the general Malaysian Chinese population.

I would like to present a very brief history of the Malaysian Chinese to help people understand their fellow Malaysians better. And perhaps help them look at the Malaysian Chinese as fellow humans and citizens, and not as the greedy alien monsters that many have made them out to be.

Perhaps it is time to remember that the Chinese have a history in Malaysia spanning almost 400 years, reaching back to the time of the Melaka Sultanate. These Chinese immigrants and the latter day ones did not manipulate their way into this land, but made a conscious choice to settle here and contribute their blood, sweat and tears to this country. Many made a heartbreaking choice when they chose to be Malayans (and later, Malaysians) and not Chinese.

This series is absolutely NOT meant to be an exhaustive history lesson. My aim is just to provide a broad-strokes understanding of the Malaysian Chinese, and perhaps illustrate how their history has shaped their psyche today. If anyone takes exception that I'm generalising too much – too bad. Go and write your own account then! I'll be happy to publish your opus in this blog.


Chinese Immigration To Tanah Melayu

There were 2 main waves of Chinese immigration to Malaya.

The first wave was during the Melaka Sultanate. These Chinese were mainly traders who came to Melaka to trade, and for various reasons stayed on in Melaka and made it their home. They married the locals and merged into the local culture. Their descendants are the Straits-born Chinese, or popularly known as the Baba and Nyonya.

The Baba/Nyona culture is a true melting pot of Chinese and Malay influences. Many cultural traditions retained their Chinese flavour – e.g. celebrations and architecture. But many other aspects took on a Malay flavour – clothes, food and language being the most obvious ones. The traditional Baba/Nyonya wore baju kebaya, speaks Bahasa Melayu as well as the Malays and their cooking is laden with the spices. It is worth remembering that the Baba/Nyonya have been in Malaysia for almost as long as the Malays, as their ancestors arrived on this land mere decades after Parameswara.

The second wave of immigrants came during the British era, mainly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Masses of Chinese were brought in to work as hard labour, mainly in the mines and the construction industry. Most of them arrived from the poorer southern provinces of China – Hainan Island (Hainanese), Guagzhou (Cantonese), Fuzhou (Hokkien & Hockchiew), etc.

Those who came during this era were mostly the uneducated folk who were fleeing the social breakdown arising from political decline of China. They were the bottom-of-the-foodchain folks who found it increasingly difficult to make a living in times of unrest. And without an education, there was no hope for them to advance upwards of the foodchain.

Thus, they made the decision to sojourn to other lands in search of opportunity. Many went to California (popularly called Kam San or “Gold Mountain”) to work in the gold mines. Many thought they were going to strike it rich as prospectors. Little did they know that they were just going to be menial workers for the rich towkays who operated the mines.

Many others came to Malaysia (popularly known as Nam Yeong or the “South Seas”). They too were sold on the dreams of rich opportunities for a better life in Malaya by immigration agents. And they too arrived to find themselves the serfs of the rich towkays. For all their dreams of a better life - they remained at the bottom of the foodchain in the new country.

These immigrants typically had to pay for their own passage to Malaya, as well as the exorbitant agents fees for bringing them over. They left behind their families, sold all they had or took hefty loans for a chance at a better life in a strange land. Many left with the hope of making it big in a few years and returning home to retire with their riches.

These early Chinese immigrants' situation is not too unlike the foreign workers who arrive on our shores from Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, etc. But these modern day immigrants have it much better than the early Chinese immigrants as they have some rights and freedoms, and plenty of opportunity - even if they are not citizens.