Saturday, November 01, 2008

English, Science and Maths.... BM?

This debate on the teaching of Science and Maths in English may carry on and on without any fair conclusion.

Whilst our passion in fighting for the already elevated position of English in the "Hall of Language" should receive positive response from every corner of the society, please bear with my humble opinion that our purposeful actions should also be predicated on practicality and effectuality of the original purpose itself.

If teaching English is meant to improve the proficiency of our students in Science and Maths, mainly those in the areas where English is hardly spoken, and produce our new generations who with their English proficiency can easily access technical knowledge and know-hows, and eventually contribute massively to our economic growth especially amid the unprecedented kinda global economic challenges, then forgive me to say that we should also teach our school students Accounting, Finance, Economics and other subjects in English. The reason being, there are lotsa subjects contributing to our economic growth, not just Science and Maths.

When we continue teaching Science and Maths in English yet the expected proficient level of our students still leave much to be desired, we start blaming those who champion the status, importance and usage of Bahasa Melayu (BM) despite their noble cause being well guarded by our most supreme law, the Federal Constitution re its Article 152. My humble opinion again, the cause to promote the wide usage of BM must not be condoned by all means mainly in the current of discontent among certain quarters with regard to certain provisions in the Constitution and in the undercurrent parallel to it. And some of us are taking the opportunity to blame the policy as a wrong move by the Government. There a vast difference between using BM at home and in formal communications. At home, our Malay students speak their mother-tongue in a casual way with slangs and dialects intertwined more often than not. This way of using BM got no place at work or when they attend classes, hence the reason to preserve and promote the usage of BM as an official teaching medium. Failing which, BM will one day become a dead language.

Promoting the teaching of Science and Maths in English is a good cause. The Government just sowed the seeds a few years back, but most of us seem to expect the fruits overnight, which sounds a bit unfair as the policy could only yield the expected results when those students who joined the program at its inception begin to demonstrate their proficiency in the job market, or earlier at their tertiary training grounds. Correct me if I’m wrong, but now most of us are arguing based on complaints in the job market where our university grads speak poor English during interviews or at work. Question, were these bunches part of the program? A KPI must be established at the tertiary level to gauge the success of the said program. Of course those who are left behind due to their bad results in school will not be scoped en. Let the market assess them, while we focus on those who start with the program from the beginning and assess them through our national examinations ie SPM, PMR and UPSR (although the third one may not provide the adequate testing grounds.)

In my early days, I always tell my friends or juniors or anyone who wanna know that language is what one uses to communicate and it develops along with the frequency of using it in one’s daily life. Consider Tarzan’s ability to speak the language of the monkeys. Although Tarzan is only a fiction, the lesson we could learn from his life is that when we use a language everyday, our brain will dictate the words of the language to flow through our mouth as quick a speed as the brain controlling our endocrine system in producing saliva in our mouth. Doctors here, please correct my fact. Try leave a Malay baby with a Chinese family, and the baby will speak fluent Chinese subject to the family’s dialect and usage of the Chinese language.

In all, I contend that we may continue the program with the notion at the back of our mind that teaching Science and Maths in English does not solely contribute to our nation’s economic growth, nor will it deprive our national language of any efforts to promote its usage and protect it position at its rightful pedestal. I’m not expert in this area. My tots over here are of my personal views, and they have no association whatsoever with my organizations and those professionally connected with me. And.. owh.. Forgive me for breaking my promise to compress my views. The subject matter is just too important to ignore.