Melayu Muda
Perbincangan isu-isu bangsa Malaysia

Voices of our young generation lost in tangle over PPSMI

THE raging debate over the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) is unlikely to simmer down despite the Government’s unequivocal stand that there will be no policy reversal.

The protagonists have fought long and hard in a battle where, sadly, the real victims are our young generation, whose voices are not heard.

Those who speak on their behalf, from either side, must understand that there are long-term consequences when policy changes are made at this level, more so in the field of education.

The voices we hear in this newspaper, and in cyberspace, understandably, favour the English language proponents. To their opponents, their outreach is limited to urban, middle-class families where English is almost like their mother tongue, whatever their ethnicity.

Those who speak on behalf of the rest of the country, therefore, claim that simply in terms of numbers, reverting to teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia is the obvious solution.

There are merits to both sides of the arguments but the battle continues not so much in terms of what is good for our children and our country in the long term, but what is politically expedient in the short term.

The Government must allow choices. It makes more sense to seek a win-win situation that allows parents and students PPSMI as an option than to bulldoze the reversal decision through.

We are told that statistics and feedback prove we need to go back to Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction but not a single document on this has been made public or transparent.

Why is a policy deemed correct and visionary back in 2003 but no longer so today?

History will tell us that in the early days of our independence, like many countries freed from the yoke of colonialism, we did not immediately discard the systems put in place by the British administration.

As far as education was concerned, all Malaysians, even in the furthest reaches of our rural areas, were given every opportunity to excel in English.

Many had to be uprooted from their homes to stay in hostels of premier schools once they reached the secondary level. And if they did well, they were given every opportunity to study overseas and come back to serve the country.

In a way, this is still happening today. Every year, we still send our students out to gain knowledge primarily in the English-speaking world. Many still go on public expense though an increasing number have to pay their own way there.

The only difference is that the standard of English of these students is not as high as it was before because English is no longer widely used within the confines of the schools.

The reversal of policy has already achieved one thing pushing parents to seek alternative routes.

As a result, it has exacerbated the divide between those who are already fluent in the English language and those who are not.

More and more taxpayers are giving up on the national schools and forking out additional expenses to send their children to private and international schools.

Even worse, they are leaving these shores for “English” pastures in significant numbers.

And so, years down the road, we’ll still be talking about the lost generations.

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