The decision to teach mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia (MBMMBI) continues to haunt parents and the government despite assurances by the minister of education that all parties were consulted before the decision was made. Those who supported the teaching of mathematics and science in English (PPSMI) are still not convinced that the ministry carried out a fair survey to find students and parents’ preferences of the language. There is a general feeling among parents that the ministry carried out a sort of guided survey to achieve a certain results.

The ministry of education has carried out a random survey for those enrolled in form one this year on the usage of medium of instruction for mathematics and science. The Students supporting MBMMBI is 34%, supporting PPSMI is 11% and support for both languages is 55%. With this result the ministry feels that the decision to switch to MBMMBI is the wish of the majority. Therefore the others just follow and stop questioning the majority. But the rambling and discontent continues since the majority 66% did not support MBMMBI exclusively. Today the majority of elite and middle class families are Malays whose discontent, the government will find difficult to brush aside. So, what is the way forward?

Education ministers are potential and future prime ministers. The ministry is highly politicized with hardliners and extremist dictating the term and conditions of education policies. This has lead to flip flopping on its policies for the past 30 years with no proper system in sight. Many educated and professional parents migrate to other countries because of low quality of our education system. Demand for Private schools is increasing. Thousands of students cross over to Singapore every day for schooling purpose. Tuition centres are mushrooming all over town and big business. Ministry education gets the highest budget allocation of RM29.3 billion in 2011 and RM32.6 billion in 2012. After all this expenditure, any hope?

Why are the policy makers very against the existence of English medium schools? Why not let the parents make the choice? If they can allow Chinese schools and Tamils schools to exist, why not allow English schools to co-exist with Malay schools too? Malaysia had one of the best English education systems in Asia. Frequent changes for race and religious purpose have brought irreparable damage to the education system.

Yesterday I read in the newspaper that one principal in Malacca ordered the school Buddhist society to dissolve all because it is Buddhist. Such is the level of intolerance and narrowness of our educators. Majority of our teachers cannot teach in English. You can imagine the calibre of teachers they must have recruited to teach and mould the young and tender minds. Do we have any hope? If we don’t change we are doomed.

Senator S. Ramakrishnan


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