Friday, February 02, 2007

We have lost our way on education....

Time for holistic relook at education system - The Sun 31st January
A new education plan to improve primary school pupils' proficiency in English is about to be tried out as a year-long pilot project in 50 schools. It will see Mathematics and Science lessons, of which there are seven and three periods respectively, turned into English lessons.
The Mathematics and Science teachers will continue teaching their pupils but their focus this time will be to make their pupils more comfortable with English. Effectively it will mean year one pupils will now do 18 periods of English per week from their present eight.
The programme is called ELiTE or Early Literacy Through English. With so many recent innovations - like the recently launched National Education Blueprint 2006-2010) - and the virtual alphabet soup of plans and programmes like Kia2M, JQAF, Kafa, PIP, BCK, BTK, Mekar and Rimup that have been introduced by the Education Ministry it is little wonder that many people are quite confused with the present education system of the country.

Oh no
…not another plan from MOE! This article in the Sun is most disconcerting. Lets not experiment any longer with our children’s future….please! Come up with a holistic plan to educate our young bearing in mind current and future world trends. 37 years ago, nationalist leaders decided to raise a generation of Bahasa Malaysia speaking adults by conducting a medium of instruction for all subjects in Bahasa. The result, a generation of Malaysians today cannot hold a simple conversation in English. I was fortunate enough to go to a Mission School where our headmasters and teachers were still comfortable with the language and were determined to make us proficient in it.

Then, 5 years ago, a knee jerk response to the poor command of the language by our leaders. English and Mathematics to be taught in English and overnight our teachers were expected to speak and teach in this foreign tongue! It would have been wiser to begin with standard 1 and to upgrade the English textbooks for all years to include literature. There is no better way for one to grasp the English language then to read and critique.

It is no wonder many today opt for private schools and Chinese schools. Heck, even some minister’s I am told sent their children to private schools. Leave the poor rakyat to attend the mediocre Kebangsaan schools. I sent my children to a Chinese medium school for lack of a good Kebangsaan school. Afterall why should I want to subject my children to all the pressure and the longer hours having to study maths and science in 2 languages unless the Kebangsaan schools are far short of what it should be?

Lets not be proud, the honourable minister of education could benchmark with countries who are far more ahead in this arena. Countries leading in science, technology and innovation. Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Australia and even gulp…Singapore (that would take a whole lot of humility).


chiefkid said...

Race based politics has been a feature of Malaysian politics from when it was formed. It was a time that required unity amongst the disparate races to achieve independence.

Here we are some 50 years later - times have changed but have we ? The challenges are different - should the means to address them be the same ?

Whilst we squabble amongst ourselves, the world passes us by. How much time and effort are spent unproductively by our entire Government machinery political and bureaucracy to debate the same refrain again and again ? Does this explain why we are falling behind in this competitive world which is clearly going to be an Asian century ?

chiefkid said...

I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly ! Whilst our Government vacillates between education policies, the next generation of children are the poor guinea pigs. It says much that despite political stability for 50 years (ie no change in poltical parties), that we have no policy stability in education. Education is a fundamental pillar of the entire country. It is a long term process. It builds our future.

Yet, do we have have fools running the system ? Do they know what they are doing ? Are policies used as a political football ? It again says much that for those that can afford it, they pursue alternative avenues. It takes a strong will and a powerful support ecosystem from home for a child today to wade through this mess and emerge unscathed.

I have never had anything good to say about the Singaporean education system all these years, bemoaning the fact that it churns out robots that can hardly think. Now that I am parked here and that in a few years, a serious decision has to be made as to whether my kid will enter the education system here, I now think that observing firsthand, even the powers that be here are rethinking their entire approach. In a world where rote learning is no longer king; creativity, innovation and EQ rules - are we giving our children the life skills they need to survive and thrive ?
Home schooling is a thought that has crossed my mind repeatedly. An option I would rather not exercise as it would deprive the child of the social and perhaps fun aspects of growing up. Oh well, just as well I have a few more years to come up with the answer...


Maybe the best way is to get the british to rule us again :) Just kidding.

Meng said...

Chiefkid, good to see you again here. I've read a different view on Singapore education here:

(shade the link and it gives you the option to go there)

As much as I dislike the Asian school system of drilling and grilling and not alowing space to think and discover; it does create good work ethics.

Anonymous said...

Bahasa Melayu is certainly not "Bahasa Malaysia", which constitutes 4 national languages, Mandarin, Tamil, English and Bahasa Melayu.

In Singapore, PAP rightly declared 4 official (national) languages, Mandarin, English, Tamil and Bahasa Melayu.

I support teaching Science and Maths in English.

Meng said...

I support teaching good English first as a subject. Raise the standard of our English beyond conversational english. Read the classics and great literary works and then when one has a good command of the english language, the academic disciplines and discourse and the ability to anayse and express will come naturally. We cannot rebuild overnight what we (Mahathir and his nationalists) have destroyed over 30 years!!!