PETALING JAYA: The use of “imported” English Language textbooks for Standard 1 and Form 1 students from next year has another weakness apart from its lack of relevance to the local context, says DAP’s Zairil Khir Johari.
The Bukit Bendera MP said that the books – “Super Minds” for primary school and “Pulse 2” for secondary school – requires accessibility to audio and video materials which have not been included by the education ministry.
“One major problem that will be faced by teachers and students with the ‘imported’ textbooks is accessibility to audio and video materials.
“In both ‘Super Minds’ and ‘Pulse 2’, almost every page contains references to digital material. Unfortunately, the textbooks provided to Malaysian students do not come with CDs or any other means to access the audio and visual material,” Zairil said in a statement.
He said he was informed that for the “Pulse 2” textbook for Form 1 students, only two CDs have been distributed to each school to be used by teachers in the classroom.
“In other words, it is only during class that the textbooks would be useful.
“Students and parents who wish to study or do exercises at home would not be able to access the digital content. This effectively means that the textbooks are of little use other than during lessons in the classroom,” Zairil said.
He compared this with the previous Form 1 English Language textbook published by local publisher, Pelangi, which contained the QR code which could be used to download additional audio and video material online.
“This makes the textbook’s digital material available to students and parents who wish to practice or study at home.
“The lack of accessibility to digital material for the ‘imported’ Pulse 2 textbook is most disappointing given the fact that they cost RM38 a copy compared with RM7.50 for the Form 1 English Language textbook by Pelangi.”
Zairil also found out that teachers or parents wanting to purchase the CDs in order to access the digital material, could do so but it comes at a steep price.
“The teacher’s edition can be bought at the exorbitant price of RM199 a copy,” he said, but did not disclose if there is a separate edition for students.
Local talents could do better job
The issue of the use of “imported” English Language textbooks for Standard 1 and Form 1 students first came to light in October when a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya, told FMT there were many local talents who could do a better job, by producing textbooks specifically for Malaysian students.
Surinderpal Kaur said her main concern with the “imported” textbooks was that the context would be too foreign for Malaysian students, especially those from rural areas.
“Context and familiarity are very important in the learning of a language.
“The more unfamiliar the culture, context and environment in the textbooks, the harder it will be for students to identify with them,” she had said in an interview with FMT.
The issue was later taken up by Zairil, who is the DAP parliamentary spokesman for education, science and technology, who questioned the lack of an open tender for the supply of the new textbooks, among other things.
He was reported to have said that the books are also not “imported” because the local publishers hired by the education ministry to adapt the books to the local context, had merely copy-pasted the content wholesale from the original source and had it printed locally.
“The prohibitive cost of these books is also questionable as these supposedly imported books are not actually imported but printed locally and supplied through local publishers Pan Asia Publications for ‘Super Minds’ and Desa Fikir for ‘Pulse 2’.
“Are these books then purposely labelled as imported in order to justify the high price paid for them?” Zairil had asked at a press conference in the Parliament building last month.
According to Zairil, “Super Minds” is priced at RM38.80 a copy, and “Pulse 2” costs RM38 per copy, compared with locally-published textbooks, “which cost less than RM10 a copy”.