The Education Ministry has refused to allow students the option of Bahasa Malaysia or English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics, angering groups like PAGE.
According to Education and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, such an option would result in chaos for the national education system.
“If we give parents this choice, it will cause chaos (kucar-kacir) in our education system. It will be difficult for the Education Ministry to plan as to whether a school will teach (the subjects) in English or Bahasa Malaysia,” he told reporters today.
Muhyiddin admitted that many English teachers in the country were not up to standard and used this as an excuse to revert the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia.
“How are we going to prepare the teachers? As we know today, some of our English teachers are not that good, so if a school doesn’t have good English teachers, the hopes of parents will not be achieved,” he said.
He added that the matter was already considered by the ministry and defended the decision, claiming that it was the best solution possible.
“All this has been considered by the ministry. It’s not that we don’t understand the wishes of parents. As a parent, I want these wishes too, but we have to look to the best solution,” he said.
FMT previously reported that Form Four students would be learning Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia instead of English next year.
This revelation was especially confusing to parents, who claimed that they were not officially informed about the matter.
The change would hit current Form Three students the hardest, considering that many of them studied the two subjects in English since entering Standard One in 2003.
Pro-English language groups had criticised the government’s decision to scrap the PPSMI (Maths and Science in English) in favour of the Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening Command of English (MBMMBI) next year.
These included the Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) and Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM).
‘Fed up with Muhyiddin’
Today, PAGE chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim told FMT that Malaysian parents were “fed up” with Muhyiddin’s choice in the language debacle.
She said that attempts by PAGE to speak to the minister over the matter hit a brick wall.
“We have tried to meet him three times over the past year. He knows we want to see him. Ministry officials have tried to arrange a meeting between us (PAGE) and him, but we know he doesn’t want to meet us.
“It’s obvious that he’s made the wrong decision over this,” she said.
English, Noor Azimah said, was already a widely-used language in many parts of Malaysia. She also stressed that PAGE was not asking to abolish Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction.
“We’re asking for the option to learn in English. Why are they giving out a bad deal here? They’re making it difficult for us to go to national schools and are forcing us to go to the international schools for the rich,” she said.
Noor Azimah added that the “national language pushers” did not represent parents at large, and were thus condemning students to an uncertain fate.
The biggest loser in the switch from PPSMI to MBMMBI, she said, were the Malays.
“The Malays would lose out, and they’d be left to rot in the national schools,” she said.
“If they (the government) are serious about moving the country forward, they will see the importance of English. What are they afraid of?” she asked.
She then warned the government that it could lose out electorally, especially with speculation of the general election just around the corner.
Unhappy parents, Noor Azimah hinted, were likely to vote for the opposition as a result.
According to a statement by PAGE, national test scores improved with the introduction of the PPSMI in 2003.
Citing the Millenium Development Goals 2010 report, PAGE said that both rural and urban students had improved test scores in the years running to 2010.
“They (rural students) all showed improvements in English, no reduction in Bahasa Malaysia, and improvements in Science and Mathematics in the last few years,” it said.
According to an online petition maintained by PAGE, more than 100,000 parents had protested against the ministry’s decision.