Tuesday, December 25, 2007


LET US HAVE A GOOD LOOK AT THE ARTICLE BELOW.......TAKEN FROM THE STAR.TO ALL WHO 'LOVE' EDUCATION.To change or not to changeStories by TAN SHIOW CHIN and TAN EE LOOeducate@thestar.com.myShould Science and Maths be taught in English? The debate continues, as stakeholders in education got together at a one-day colloquium to share their views.AFTER five years, the English for the Teaching of Mathematics and Science (ETeMS) policy is still being hotly debated.In light of that, the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) decided to organise a National Colloquium on the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English recently, in conjunction with its 25th anniversary.Said Melta president Assoc Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani: “This has been an ongoing debate, and I think we have reached a crucial point.“What we often hear are (from) the politicians; we felt that we should get the people who are involved in education to speak up.”ASSOC PROF YOONG: Focus is often given to successful students while the silent majority who suffer are ignored.The one-day colloquium began with a keynote address by former Malaysia Airlines managing director and CEO Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, who was then followed by seven speakers representing different stakeholders in education.Most of the speakers were of the opinion that the policy is here to stay, and all that is required for its successful implementation is time and effort.In his address, Abdul Aziz reminded the 200-odd participants to remember the aims of the policy.“As I understand, it is aimed not just at improving the standard of the English language among Malaysians.“More importantly, it is to give Malaysian learners access to the large body of knowledge in Mathematics and Science which is available in the English language.”For Mara Junior Science College Alumni (Ansara) president Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the answer is simple.“To me, it is a matter of survival. In this day and age, it is the country that has good scientific literature that is going to survive.”Malaysian Scientific Association president Prof Datuk Dr Khairul Anuar Abdullah agreed: “Most of the information on science is presented in English; most textbooks and journals are in English.”He added that science subjects in institutions of higher learning are taught in English as most reference materials are available in English, and translation into Bahasa Malaysia is difficult, with the end-result generally not as good as the original.According to National Parent-Teacher Associations Collaborative Council president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, the policy itself was “first-class”, but the delivery system was “fourth-class”.His vice-president Norhani Mohd Affandi, who spoke on his behalf, said: “The switch, when it was done in 2003, was really abrupt.“The teachers, especially in the rural areas, were taken by surprise.”She added: “Parents are saying that the teachers are lost, and their children are also lost.”Meanwhile, according to Education Ministry Curriculum Development Centre deputy director Ali Abdul Ghani, the ministry had embarked on numerous projects to ensure that the ETeMS policy was well implemented.Training has been carried out, textbooks and courseware are ready and teachers are implementing the policy in their schools, he said.MUKHRIZ: It is a matter of survival - in this day and age, it is the country that has good scientific literature that is going to survive.“We need to give them time,” he added, saying that many teachers had been depressed, frustrated and inclined to quit during the early stages of the policy.National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) general treasurer Harry Tan Huat Hock said: “We still draw a lot of flak from proponents of mother tongues and people out for political mileage.”He added that teachers are “doing their best to implement the policy”, and that the switch in the medium of instruction was a painful process.Two speakers, however, queried the ability of the policy to achieve its goals, as they presented research findings that show young children make better progress learning in their mother tongue compared with a second or third language.Child Health, Information, Learning and Development Centre founder trustee Dr N. Iyngkaran and United Chinese Schools Board of Governors and Teachers Associations (Dong Jiao Zong) Examination Section director Assoc Prof Dr Yoong Suan were speaking from the viewpoints of Tamil and Chinese vernacular schools respectively.Dr Iyngkaran presented his comparative analysis of Tamil and national school UPSR results from 1995 to 2002, as well as his conclusion that subjects in Bahasa Malaysia or English are more difficult for Tamil school students to follow.Assoc Prof Yoong, meanwhile, pointed out that focus was often given to the few successful cases, while the silent majority who suffer were ignored.“In Malaysia, we always have one policy to fit all, without taking into account our diversity,” he said, agreeing with Norhani that the policy was implemented abruptly.Expressing reservations on the policy, he added, did not mean that Chinese educationists and parents were against improving the level of English among Malaysian students or that they were chauvinistic.

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