[lg policy] Malaysia: Reliving the myth of the lazy native: the PPSMI issue and the denying of success to the poor

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 27 13:52:37 UTC 2009

Reliving the myth of the lazy native: the PPSMI issue and the denying
of success to the poor
Posted by admin
Sunday, 26 July 2009 10:58

Azly Rahman

The refusal to teach Mathematics and Science in English is not just an
ideological position but an idiotic one as well. It is an attempt to
self-fulfill a prophecy that the rural children especially the Malays,
cannot be challenged and must continue to be given easy passes through
social promotion.
The refusal to acknowledge that English is currently a language of
scientific progress, more than Bahasa Melayu, is an example of the
policymakers' and Malay language nationalist's hypocrisy in dealing
with success.

Based on spurious research findings headed by a teacher training
university, sanctioned by other public universities, the government
has erred in its decision that will not only impact the future of
Malaysian children in a continually globalised world where English is
the lingua franca.  And this will open up avenues for the
establishment of classes of schools, increasing the demand for the
setting up of private schools that will emphasise the English language
as a language of instruction and a rigorous curriculum that will
prepare students for a competitive world.

The premise that Malay children cannot follow instructions in English
and therefore not only standards should be lowered and subject matter
made easier, but the teaching of Mathematics and Science itself must
be reverted to the Malay Language points to this: that Malay children
especially are presumed to be losers even before all avenues of
success are provided. Because in one study they voiced their concern
over their inability to understand instructions, the future of a
generation is sacrificed. It is like saying that the more a child says
that he/she does not like school, the less the teachers need to work
to challenge them.

While children of the privileged in urban areas get first class
education through private and international schools or even in high
schools abroad and master the English Language (so that they can be
given places and sponsorship in English-speaking universities abroad),
children of the rural poor are left to become victims of policies
dictated by research findings that hardy make sense in the realm of
educational futurism. Retired professors, poet laureates, die-hard
Malay nationalists who themselves are well-educated in the English
language having tasted the successes and given national accolades
become incoherent and hypocritical spokespersons to a government
policy that will make the myth of the last native a reality.

'Strategically denying success to the poor'

These individuals do not understand changing times; that English is no
longer a language of the colonials. The colonies revolted against the
colonials through the natives' mastery of the English language. These
individuals who are against the teaching of Science and Mathematics in
English are giving wrong advice to the nation; mastering English does
not mean challenging whatever status Bahasa Melayu has been accorded
to. The government is strategically denying success to the poor of all
races, with this language policy reversal.

We are creating a nation at risk; incompetent in the language that
will give them the chance to pursue their studies in good universities
in the English-speaking world. There is a specific process one needs
to follow in order to gain access to Western education; especially in
the fields of Science and Mathematics. Many of the critical subjects
are taught in English.

The multitude of English proficiency tests is evidence that one must
understand English for specific purposes (especially in the
Mathematics and Sciences) right up to being able to write a Bachelors,
Masters, or even Doctoral and Post-doctoral dissertations in the
English language - all these are stages one has to go through.

Especially for entry into American colleges where English
proficiencyis given through tests ranging from the TOEFL (Test of
English as a Foreign Language) to the challenging GRE (Graduate Record
Examination), which require consistent polishing of skills not only in
English as a language but English taught in the content areas.

The government has blundered big time, succumbing to irrational voices
disguised as those who care about the rural poor who are slow to
master Mathematics and Science concepts in English.

Who said kampong kids can't learn?

There are enough success stories of children of the poor of all races
coming from the rural areas slogging and struggling hard to master any
language and to any subject matter and triumph to become world-class
surgeons, engineers, lawyers, academicians, diplomats, musicians, and
even culinary experts.

Who said kampong kids cannot be challenged academically? There is
enough evidence that if you provide them with dedicated teachers, a
nurturing learning environment, a supporting home, and a challenging
curriculum, and constant reminder of "yes you can" and "when the going
gets tough, the tough get going" - kids will excel.

Down with those who are out to underestimate the ability of our
children to succeed.

We must ignore bad advice and demand for success for all - urban and
rural, Bumiputra or non-Bumiputra.

We must demand a radical restructuring of our schools so that the same
standard and support is given to all schools and the commitment to a
philosophy that however we want our own children to succeed, we want
the children of others to achieve similarly as well.

Start early in teaching English. Put an end to any effort to make the
myth of the lazy native a reality.

We must remove our glass coconut shell.

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
(H. Schiffman, Moderator)

For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list