Just over three months and the decision is final

I share with you an article under the Opinion Column of the Star published yesterday. The Education Minister has just been over his 100 days in office and he said, “… our decision is final,” adding that the ministry had carried out an extensive study before reviewing the policy.

It translates to a big question mark

I READ with concern the news pertaining to two pending developments following the abolition of PPSMI.

Firstly, the Government will allocate a huge budget to facilitate translation of science and technology-based reference materials to Bahasa Malaysia and secondly, to avoid a “crash landing”, the Education Ministry is putting mitigation measures in place to facilitate a smooth “soft-landing” for students caught in the transition, “Big budget for translation work” (Sunday Star, July 12).

While I do not doubt that the Government has the money, I am curious as to who can, and will, do the translations.

A reason cited as to why PPSMI is to be scrapped is that we do not have enough teachers who are competent to teach Science and Mathematics in English.

The translation experts we need are those who are, not only competent in Science, Mathematics and technology-based subjects but, are also proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

They are a rare breed. And, the amount of translation works is enormous.

Do we have enough of such qualified personnel to do the work in time? If we have, they have certainly not shown themselves in the last 30 years when Bahasa Malaysia was the medium of instruction for the subjects.

It is a cause for concern.

If these reference materials are not available in time, students will have to be dependent again on the few standard Bahasa Malaysia text books and the infamous buku-buku ulangkaji (revision notebooks) for their understanding of Science and Mathematics.

Their knowledge of the subjects will at best be confined to these limited resources.

It will be a sad scenario indeed!

As for plans on the “soft-landing”, and to be truly fair to the students, we are looking at a transition period that will continue until 2021. As the newly announced policy dictates, the last batch of PPSMI Year 1 students who enrol in 2011 will finish Form Five in 2021. To be truly fair to this last group, the bilingual policy has to continue until 2021.

So, we will stop using English altogether to teach these two subjects one year after we achieve developed country status under Vision 2020.

It is an irony and ridiculous, right?

I am more inclined to think that in 2012, we are actually “crack launching” our Form 4 students into BM Science and Mathematics, only to “crash land” them later into the global cyber-inclined job markets – the very “crash landing” we should really avoid.

We should keep English for Science and Mathematics at least at the secondary level. I beg the Education Ministry to review and refine its decision on PPSMI before it is too late.

Source: The Star

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