PETALING JAYA: An opposition MP has alleged that a thorough scrutiny of the new KSSR and KSSM English Language textbooks for Standard 1 and Form 1 students has shown the publishers designed it specifically for Spanish students.
DAP Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said this was clear from the contents of the book, which he said also had European references that were irrelevant to Malaysian children.
“On page 8 of the Pulse 2 textbook for Form 1 students, Exercise 5 asks students what the Spanish word for ‘poster’ is. The answer is ‘cartel’.
“A second question asks students: ‘How do you say ‘lápiz’ in English?’ The answer is ‘pencil’, but how would any Malaysian student answer any of these questions unless they have exposure to Spanish?
“Also, one instruction in the book requires students to watch a programme on Channel 4, which is a UK TV station that is not available in Malaysia,” Zairil said in a statement.
He added that the local publisher hired by the education ministry to adapt the books for local use seemed to have forgotten to remove the Spanish link.
“The local publisher, Kumpulan Desa Fikir, had inadvertently forgotten to replace the caption ‘Printed and bound in Spain by Edelvives’ on the last page of the book, which is clearly erroneous when the books were actually printed locally by BHS Book Printing in Cheras.”
On Nov 23, Zairil questioned the hasty introduction of imported English language textbooks by the education ministry, saying the use of such books should be reconsidered.
The books in question are “Super Minds” from Cambridge University Press for primary school pupils, and MacMillan’s “Pulse 2” for secondary school students.
The books are meant to replace local English textbooks, to align the curriculum with the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR).
Zairil, who is also the DAP parliamentary spokesperson for education, science and technology, said the sudden policy decision by the ministry has raised consternation and concern, particularly over the issue of cost.
He said the new textbooks were far more expensive than the existing ones, with “Super Minds” priced at RM38.80 a copy, and “Pulse 2” going for RM38.
Based on the current enrolment figures of 450,000 students in Year One and 400,000 in Form 1, he said the total cost of providing these textbooks for each child would amount to RM33 million.
This was in contrast to locally published textbooks, which cost less than RM10 a copy, Zairil said.
He also criticised the ministry for purchasing the books without an open tender.
Saying the books had zero local content relevant for Malaysian students to better learn English, Zairil highlighted another example of content that was meant for students in the UK.
“The ‘Pulse 2’ book describes an Amish teenager’s visit to London or volunteering themselves at Dartmoor National Park,” he said.