Friday, July 10, 2009


Has Parents Any Say In Our Education Policy?

Ghoulish in the way educational policies are crafted by politicians in Malaysia has dogged parents, teachers and children once again. This time, when after much ado a lot want the teaching of mathematics and science in English (PPSMI) to be continued with choices given to parents, the Cabinet reversed the policy in a flourish six years after the policy was begun.

A host of students were sent reeling, the three in the montage above representing many more this writer had met in the several weeks before the decision was announced.

Since the parents are divided about this and students who have learned mathematics, science and many more elective subjects in English want to continue with it, the Cabinet could have opted to let the parents make the choices.

There was a time when parents could apply to the school to teach a subject of their choice, needing only 15 parents to clinch the deal with the school. A posse should be quickly organized to search for that parents’ right in education. It must have run away.

The PPSMI policy reversal is not catastrophic as some may wish to suggest it is. But it clearly is a disappointing turn of policy for a lot of middle-class and urban families.

It should be noted this is not merely about teaching and learning of mathematics and science in English. Some elective industrial and vocational subjects are also taught in English, the reason stated being mainly because of the lack of supportive reading material in Bahasa Malaysia.

This is not about language learning, which the Ministry shall attempt to enhance and shall recruit more than 13,500 English Language and Literature teachers.

After that is understood, it remains rather of a big waste to relieve the society of a policy that had worked well in urban schools but not for schools in the rural, a matter of fact that applies for almost all subjects and for the whole of the teaching-learning process generally.

Gunnar Myrdal’s study of the rural-urban divide had made that clear.

Urban and rural performances in the learning process cannot be expected to be the same. The teaching-learning occur in different life-spaces, the same as between the better-endowed suburbs and the ghettoes, or with the inner-city schools.

After RM 4 billion have been invested in the venture over six years and every student I asked want to continue learning the subjects in English, the writer will have to register his own feeling of going south following the cast-away decision that need not have been as black-and-white as the Cabinet had decided.

It looks done, especially after it is clear very few teachers were trained to cover the need in the past five years.

But teachers can be trained if there’s the political will and with a mighty perhaps, enough parents can be brought to hold the pitch and ransom the Ministry to be accommodative and let those who want to continue with the subjects in English do so.

Former Prime Minister, Tun Pak Lah, declared the policy was a failure. It was not. It merely lagged in the rural, something we can find happening with subjects taught in Bahasa Malaysia and especially with mathematics and science.

Trouble brewed inside of the political nuances, which happened even in Proton, whence a whole chunk of valuable shares in Augusta were sold for One Euro or RM4.50, the same shares sold later for more than RM300 million.

Tun Pak Lah, as Prime Minister, also wrote off the Smart Schools project Tun Dr. Mahathir had started. Pak Lah merely said the money would be better spent to upgrade hundreds of schools.

We would not be facing the drastic decision had that been done satisfactorily during his tenure.

The three girls in the montage are from the first cluster of Smart Schools Mahathir had wanted to pursue, i.e. the Sekolah Seri Bintang (formerly Sekolah Bukit Bintang) located in Shamelin Garden, Cheras.

Asked, they replied they are from a Smart School (Sekolah Bistari) but when I followed through they said Smart Schools are schools where teaching and learning are electronic-aided.

Electronic-aided teaching-learning is less than 50 percent of what a Smart School should be and I suggested they get into the net and search for Smart School for a start.

When the concept is understood I told them they should get organized and aggress for a proper Smart School development. I had been a teacher, you see.

So the question should be asked as to whether or not we had been heading South in education because of the political blur and have we now done a leap South again?

Well, it’s about one and another policy and facility gone and we’ll need to wait to see if the new initiatives will show any better performances in our schools after 2012. --- a. ghani ismail, 11 July 2009

1 comment:

Satish said...

Sad that education is politicised so much by BN.

To win the votes of the minority, they're going to get a whacking by the majority.