Sunday, March 15, 2009

Maths and science: The case for BM

Maths and science: The case for BM
Helen Ang | Mar 12, 09 11:20am

Yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong berciciran.


We might dream about creating a breed of Malaysian scientists and mathematicians but we’re losing hordes of children who don’t even have a decent grounding in Math and Science due to PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris).

1 Prof Mohamad Tajuddin Rasdi commented that the move to teach Math and Science in English was made with “such rapidity that it boggles any management team to implement”. The public did not hear about any feasibility study nor were there any debates or concerns that built up to the radical switch.

2 PPSMI was implemented in January 2003, coming at the tail-end of Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s tenure. “Tun Mahathir sort of woke up one day and decided to change the languages of the two subjects”, Prof Tajuddin noted. Dr M’s ‘Eureka!’ moment came after Malaysian kids have been learning Math and Science in Malay for almost four decades.

3 Dr M’s executive order was given against a backdrop of massive unemployment among local graduates which he blamed on their lack of proficiency in English. At the same time, private colleges offering courses in English were burgeoning. The PPSMI directive did not originate from the Education Ministry but was instead the premier’s personal initiative.

4 The PPSMI project – it was revealed in Parliament last May – has already cost taxpayers RM3.2 billion over the last five years. A significant portion of the money was ostensibly spent on ICT equipment. Further billions have been budgeted to see through the programme. Is it an enrichment of pupils or of cronies, one may ask?
5 We have completed a cycle of PPSMI. In 2008, the pioneer batch finished their Year Six. Yet last year, only 31.1% elected to answer the UPSR Science paper fully in English, while 68.9% opted to use Malay, or vernacular (Chinese/Tamil), or a combination of languages.
This rojak language feature is unheard of anywhere else in the world. Would a 12-year-old in England submit his Science answer script in a jumble of English-French-Urdu?

6 Close to 70 percent were not confident enough to sit the exam in English. In absolute numbers, that’s 352,641 pupils. It is mother tongue instruction that’s most effective for children as countless studies have shown. Unesco endorses this formulation. The European Union similarly adopts a mother tongue education policy.

7 Is it so incomprehensible to the vocally pro-PPSMI urbanites that English is alien to the majority of rural children?

Furthermore, Math and Science teachers who are themselves deficient in English will not help improve the pupil’s language command. In fact, a likely scenario is that kids will pick up English grammar mistakes from Cikgu during Math and Science periods.

Wrong to scapegoat BM

8 A most oft-cited argument in favour of PPSMI is that the bulk of reference material is in English. But we’re talking about seven year olds and 11 year olds. They don’t need to refer to advanced textbooks and academic papers.

They’re not required to write a thesis using English jargon. Foundation level Math and Science deals with basic concepts that can be explained just as well in BM or vernacular.

Even at ages 13 to 15, schoolgoers don’t specialise in Math and Science. Not everybody aspires to be a scientist.

9 Three scientists of Japanese ethnicity shared the 2008 Nobel Prize for their work in subatomic physics. They obtained their PhDs from Nagoya University and University of Tokyo. They learned their Math and Science in Japanese…I’m sure.

10 Let’s say that a science magazine discusses the field of their Nobel prize-winning endeavour with words like ‘particle accelerator/Large Hadron Collider’, ‘CP violation’ and ‘Higgs boson’. Mastery of English doesn’t necessarily help a Form Five student comprehend the contributions of the Japanese trio.

Only by being very good in Physics will the 17-year-old Malaysian find the article illuminating. English is not a magic key to unlocking scientific aptitude.

11 The problem with Malaysians doesn’t lie with the language of delivery. It lies with the passive education system, the teachers’ dispiriting approach and the by-rote exam structure (practise, practise, practise past year test papers, spot questions). These methods fail to foster a scientific mindset.

12 Impressive Math and Science scores in domestic exams do not automatically make Malaysia a great science and technology nation. Does Malaysia have the requisite technology base (except in the automotive industry thanks to Proton), flourishing R&D sector as well as incentives to absorb those future graduates who intend to do original research?

13 What’s the real value of an ‘A’ in the Malaysian exam system? The revamped PSSMI syllabus has been dumbed down compared to the BM curriculum it replaced.

14 Not only that, the GMP (movement to abolish PPSMI) has alleged that in order to cover up the failure of the policy, the Education Ministry has resorted to lowering the passing mark to 30 percent and thus beefing up the pass rate.

National language, national identity

15 Article 152 of the Federal Constitution makes Malay our national language. It is the language for ‘official purpose’, i.e. “any purpose of the Government, whether Federal or State, and includes any purpose of a public authority”. English has no official purpose in schools.

16 The Education Act says that the national language shall be the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions except Chinese and Tamil schools. It does not provide for the existence of English school.

UPSR in national school has six subjects; the core subjects Math, Science and second language are in English. To all intents and purposes English has become the medium of instruction. If the government insists on proceeding with PPSMI, it should amend the Constitution and change the law first.

17 In national-type schools similarly, the school’s Chinese character is lost while ‘doubling’ wastes precious time when Math and Science are taught overlapping in both English and Chinese.

Chinese primary schools are feeders to the independent Chinese high schools whose students take the UEC. This exam is recognised for entry to universities in Taiwan, China, Singapore, Australia and some European countries. PPSMI will kill the UEC, and seal off alternative avenues to higher education if students are incompetent in Chinese language.

18 PPSMI benefits the ‘haves’ and disadvantages the ‘have-nots’. Poor parents lack the resources for private tuition, not that there are tuition centres anyway in the rural and remote areas.

Nor are these parents capable of giving home tutoring as they themselves are not well-educated. And in settlements and long houses, children do not have access to facilities, computers and laboratories.

English-speaking parents desire the easier path paved by English access, otherwise their kids will have to adapt to English later at college level. What is advantageous to them comes at the expense of the majority losing out in Math and Science (see results). PSSMI shifts the burden to young rural children while those exposed to an English-speaking environment cruise ahead.

19 It is not for the greater good to penalise many to advance a few. Since 1982, all first degree courses have generally been taught in Malay at our public universities. For close to three decades, these tertiary institutions have been producing graduands who obtained their qualifications in Malay. We’re a Malay-speaking polity.

20 Finally, the standard of BM has risen in inverse correlation to the decline in the standard of English. Our socio-political milieu is undeniably Malay. Unless we’re willing to alienate ourselves in ethnic enclaves, it’s untenable to continue living in Malaysia if we do not encourage our children to be adept in Malay or at the very least, keep up.

PPSMI by sidelining the national language turns the accepted notion of nationhood on its head.

The above article is condensed from a two-part essay originally published by the Centre for Policy Initiatives. The memorandum submitted by GMP to the King can be viewed here.


KwOnG FeI said...

To me, PPSMI shall be taught in seocndary school which are PMR, SPM & STPM levels.
Starting at tender age at Standard 1 or 3 is a burden to the children.
As for many, the kids first learn their mother tongue. When they enter Standard 1, they are still learning hard their mother tongue. So, should PPSMI started at the 'kids' age, they will ifnd difficulty in elarning to many languages. Science & Maths are not easy to learn and thus by using the mother tongue or BM, it will certainly imporve their understanding.

When comes to Form 1, these kids are in a higher state. We must theach them to be independent and learn basically everything. It's time to brush up their thinking skills and venture to world of education. Hence, PPSMI is definitely a must. WHY?? All the textbooks or online journal or web are available in Engslish. Beside, in Science & Maths, we don't leanr vocabulary or grmmar but we learn Science language which has nothing to do with tarnishing or decreasing proficiency in BM. Totally wrong concept! As for me, I learn tatabahsa, bunga-bunga bahasa (metafora etc) in BM & Kesussateraan Melayu which really help me in mastering the language. I learn both Science & Maths in BM as well as English. Trust me, there is no difference. The BIG major advantage is if u leanr English, the terms u used is worldwide and used in University level. When we at Uni stage, English will help us in understanding as well as getting more information form various sources. If we learn in BM during secondary, you will have trouble in University level.

Try imagine if you are a doctor who learn all the way using BM, how are you goin to communicate with the foreign doctors? In science language, we talk about terms and so on. Its has nothing to do with mastering English. When you learn in English, you cna able to communicate and share well ur knowledge and even can work in other country with ease. If you learn in BM, how are you able to translate all the medical terms to understandable English?
eg what is brainstem in BM?

Hang LIPO said...

kita sebenarnya kekurangan buku2 rujukan bila masuk U kebanyakan buku suma dlm bahasa inggeris.Kalo ambik jurusan perubatan @ kejuruteraan lagi le merangkak2 sebab terkejut beruk dulu masa sekolah diajor dlm bahasa malaysia tapi bila masuk U kena belajor istilah di dlm bahasa inggeris.Istilah2 saintifik kalo diterjemahkan oleh DBP ke bahsa malaysia nampak janggal & melucukan.Istilah2 saintifik yg diterjemahkan di dlm bahasa malaysia sukar utk diingati/dihafal berbanding dgn istilah di dlm bahasa inggeris.Sebab tu bila jawab soalan periksa ramai yg terkial2.Sebab itu rmai student kita yg kantoi semasa di U sebab tak pass peksa....

Ainur68 said...

Pro dan kontra sudah semestinya ada. Saya rasa implementasinya agak terburu2 masa tu. Bagi orang2 beraliran teknikal memang bahasa inggeris sangat penting. Kerana terma2 saintifik terlalu banyak.Kalau diterjemahkan akan menjadi pelik dan kelakar. Tetapi bagi orang2 beraliran sastera ia tidak menjadi begitu penting. Cuma bila bekerja memang bahasa inggeris lebih diutamakan di negara kita. Saya rasa perbalahan PPSMI disebabkan cara kita melihatnya dari sudut berbeza.
1-Orang2 teknikal melihat dari pengalaman pembelajaran dan pekerjaan.
2-Para sasterawan melihat dari kehilangan identiti bahasa bila terlalu menekan kepentingan bahasa inggeris. Mungkin juga ada kebenarannya bila kita lihat pada tulisan jawi.
3-Pada rakyat marhaen dilihat kesukaran bagi anak2 menguasai subjek tersebut akibat penggunaan bahasa inggeris. Maka jadilah yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong keciciran.
Secara peribadi, saya rasa ada rasionalnya PPSMI tapi oleh kerana sikap kita pada ilmu masih tidak berubah, maka jadilah PPSMI yang ditelan mati emak, diluah mati bapak.
P/S : Saya telah cuba sedaya upaya untuk tidak menggunakan bahasa inggeris dalam komen ini kerana saya rasakan bahasa Melayu kita telah menjadi rojak. Hakikat yang sebenarnya perbendaharaan bahasa Melayu amat terbatas dari segi ketepatan pengunaan perkataan. Sebagai contoh; accurate dan precise tolong terjemahkan kedalam BM.Just my 2 cents worth of opinion. Opps....

D'Rimba said...

salam saudara, cuba amati dan telitikan apa yg saudara faisal tehrani samapaikan dalam tulisan dia mengenai bahasa itu zat. bahasa itu satu kemahiran yg kita perlukan dan manakala ilmu itu adalah menuntut kefahaman yg amat mendalam lebih berkesan dengan bahasa ibunda kita sendiri untuk disampaikan. jika kita mendalami ilmu dengan bahasa orang lain kita melalui proses menuntut ilmu dengan peringkat untuk memahami bahasa asing itu sendiri sekaligus secara tak langsung menyerap masuk budaya barat dan satu lagi peringkat untuk kita memahami konsep sesuatu ilmu itu sendiri dengan budaya kita sendiri dan menmbah nilai Islam sejati. jangan mudah keliru dan amati sepenuh hati tanpa prasangka.

Hang LIPO said...

Istilah komputer yg jadi bahan ketawa & buat lawak bodoh...hard disk(cakra liut), motherboard (papan ibu), mouse (tetikus), CPU (kotak keras), hacker (penggodam) ...etc..gelak..gelak..apataknya papan boleh disamakan dengan plastik???

D'Rimba said...


Mohamed Idris said...

Teaching science and maths in English can have grave effects on Malaysia. Read my latest blog entry to find out more.


nobody-sama said...

Bagus tapi kenapa dalam inggeris, macam mana 'orang kampung yang menganggap inggeris bahasa makhluk asing' nak faham?

Hang Lipo: itu bukan salah sebelum masuk U belajar dalam BM tapi kurangnya cerdik pandai yang rajin untuk alih bahasa buku-buku rujukan. kalau zaman dulu pon orang malas macam sekarang pasti Islam tidak berkembang di Tanah Melayu.

Hang LIPO: papan bukan sekadar bermakna kayu. sila buka semula kamus. dalami bahasa kebangsaan sebelum bahasa lain.

Mohamed Idris: macam mana? dengan membolehkan cerdik pandai membuat alasan untuk tidak mengalih bahasa buku rujukan lantas menghasilkan buku rujukan sendiri dalam bahasa melayu?
sampai bila-bila bahasa melayu takkan maju.

nobody-sama said...

oh..maaf en idris,grave effect bukan great effect.saya sokong anda\0/

Hang Lipo = pengundi hantu..padanlah berani sangat kutuk bahasa melayu..

Kwong Fei: Benar hujah kamu (tapi bila pulak isu rosakkan BM timbul?) malangnya kesimpulan yang dibuat salah.
kerana belajar S&M dlm bahasa apa pun tidak akan memberi kesan pada peringkat menengah.yang penting istilah saintifik tetap disebut seperti asal.oleh itu,mengapa perlu abaikan bahasa kebangsaan?
paling utama,ada disebut perbualan antara Dr. kau ni kenapa? apa masalah berbual kalau belajar S&M dlm BM.dah terang2 jantung istilah Dr kardiak bkn heart!!!
kan saudara sendiri kata this has nothing to do about mastering english it is about scientific term.

nobody-sama said...

saya aliran teknikal.
saya akui mengalami kejutan budaya tiba-tiba belajar dalam inggeris (tp bkn salah BM,inikan negaranya,kenapa bahasanya inggeris?).dasar pandang ke timur DrM tak tengok pada pendidikan orang timur seperti Jepun dan China agaknya.

precise=kata sifat yang merujuk kepada kesamaan sesuatu perkara.
sukar mencari perkataan sesuai sehingga saya perlu merujuk kamus dewan.
perkataan melayu yang sesuai=persis (ini bukan kata pinjaman).

precision=bermakna tahap kesamaan sesuatu. kepekaan.

precise=juga merujuk kepada sinonim accurate.

accurate=kata sifat yang bermaksud kena pada tempatnya.

accuracy=tahap ketepatan sesuatu. ketepatan, kejituan.

walaubagaimanapun istilah2 saintifik dan perkataan2 yang sama waktu dengannya tidak perlulah dimelayukan.

Terima kasih.

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

p/s:betulkan kalau salah.