Thursday, July 9, 2009

SRJK (I) and SMJK (I)

I understand that there may be quite a lot of parents who would be deliriously overjoyed if the Government will convert designated primary schools into Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (Inggeris) ("SRJK (I)")and, designated secondary schools into Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan (Inggeris) ("SMJK (I)").

This is only fair.

After all, the Mandarin-speaking fellows have their SRJK (C) and SMJK (C) and the Tamil-speaking fellows have their SRJK (T).

And, the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking fellows will soon have their SK and SMK in the appropriate language of instruction.

Some of us may not want to send our children to SK, SRJK (C), SRJK (T), SMK or, SMJK (C). But, we may wish to send our children to SRJK (I) and SMJK (I).

Can or not?

If you are against the decision to revert from the PPSMI please register your vote at Dr M's Blog. I've registered my vote.

Read also the op-ed of Malaysia's foremost business paper on the negative impact of the reversion policy.


ben said...

Brilliant idea!

Give us this option and we shall see what the demand is like. Cubalah! Afterall it will cost less vs reverting completely because at the end of the day, the total no of schools and pupils are the same. It's a no brainer allocation exercise.

I suggest MOE start a registration process. If they can't handle then I can get voluteers to do it!

It's time govt stop "I know best" mentality!

I think so far, Guan Eng makes the most sensible statement. Read
DGuan Eng says urban schools should have an English option

maximus said...

A good idea, and consistent with the original reason for the government decision to put people first as hinted by the minister before yesterday's meeting. After all, people first should also mean parents choice in a government doesn't know best setting.

The logistics are doable. If implemented, many urban parents will send their children to english-medium schools. We can expect some rural parents will also want the same.

One possible objection could be it will run counter to the government's wish to equalize the same opportunity for both rural and urban pupils for fear of creating a knowledge divide in addition to the digital divide and income disparity.

But this objection will then mean the reversal is to make sure students wanting to go into the english-stream are obstructed in order for the students of the bahasa-stream to cope.

That is like betting on the slower horse to help the underdog and then losing the race.

Of course the government will argue that they have no choice; the performance of both teachers and students in the rural schools for science and maths has been dismal.

What remains to be answered is why make the rest of the country pay for what started as a series of blunders by the ministry that was pushed through just to be popular with some voters?

Consider the situation by 2012 for national schools. Students will learn science and maths in the national language up to form five. When they enter form six and matriculation, they will struggle to make the transition to learn them in english in preparation, or lack thereof, to sit the most important exams of their lives. If they make it and then go into local universities and colleges after that, they will learn them in english but as is reliably informed, the textbooks will be in bahasa for the public universities because the lecturers have used some students to translate them from english during the time when bahasa was to be used in public universities. Then they take their annual examinations of the universities in english.

So you have bahasa in schools to english with references in bahasa but exams in english after school, all of which cocooned in a knowledge pool that is limited to texts and references in bahasa.

Since this already reflects multiplicity (and one can add duplicity to stupidity as well), why not have another class of schools which teach primarily in the english medium for all subjects?

maximus said...

The objections and grievances over the reversal raised by many quarters when added to the remarks by Dr Mahathir Mohammad seem to say parents and even mainstream columnists and political commentators are not just looking at english for science and maths. They are looking at english as the channel to more knowledge that will create a stronger foundation for their children's careers and aspirations later.

That is why they have mentioned the poor performance of graduates at interviews and in their work, the weakness of academicians when presenting their publications, even how shy diplomats and politicians are when making speeches or mingling with their foreign peers.

The only thing all have missed out is the mountain of research knowledge that is available mainly in the english language so that this reversal, in fact the entire education system of Malaysia, runs counter-efficient to the acquisition of a constantly expanding pool of knowledge, not just in science and maths, that is critical to building more valuable content which is an assured measure of the services sector that the government is now aspiring to grow in the absence of any manufacturing and agricultural progress.

One is further tempted to add that in avoiding the hard road, the goverment is falling into a vicious cycle. It is not going to be easy to find those additional english teachers. The fact that the system is having the problem of instruction in english already shows that instructors of english are limited in numbers and if these instructors are to be imported, they will have to work for a long time before students can get to be adequately confident of their english usage. Certainly more than six years.

Does the ministry realize the consequences and implications of such a fast-fix solution when education is about nurturing, embedding, interacting and developing from day one, and not the plug-and-play approach that the solution seems to be playing in the minds of the planners?

Solving national issues caused by legacy blunders by using short-termism is hardly conducive to building human competitiveness of a re-emerging country.

While enterprising people like Pun of Phison can thrive and make a success in the mandarin-medium markets, the majority of bahasa-medium youngsters in the country can only hope that they will not be too confounded when the time comes for them to confront the real global world where english is preeminent for science, maths, technology, commerce, and much of the arts and social subjects.

It remains to note that Pun had to leave his country in order to find real opportunities. Others may also follow suit. Overhead over lunch, two young men had already concluded it will lead to more brain drains.

Perhaps a happier resolution is to teach English in Bahasa. That would certainly attract educationists from all over the world to come marvel how a language can be learned in the long march to acquiring knowledge, supposedly the real objective of education.