[lg policy] Malaysia: Be sincere about changes

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 21 20:18:56 UTC 2009

Be sincere about changes

Let's Hear It

THE imposition of the Malay language as the sole language medium in
schools and universities since 1973 has resulted in many Malaysians
failing to master the English Language. One major setback of the above
policy is that many of our lecturers and school teachers are having
difficulty to convey their thoughts in English. However, it is still
not too late for our Education Minister to make it compulsory for
students to get a pass in English in order to obtain a full SPM
certificate. In fact, it would be even better if they could impose
such a ruling at the PMR (Form Three) level.

This would mean we could have a bilingual language policy that is
based both in Malay and English in our schools. The reason is simple:
Students need to have an aim, a positive motive and a conducive
environment to use English as a means to learn and communicate and
ultimately, to master it to a proficient level. Malaysian students
have been automatically promoted to study in Form Four, irrespective
of their performance in their PMR since the late 1990s, with the
democratisation of education policy.

Many students these days just cannot focus on their studies, nor do
they bother about marks or are worried about exam results. In the
midst of the arguments to implement the above policy, our Education
Minister has himself raised two questions. The first, is whether such
a decision would be unfair to students living in rural areas. The
second is whether English grammar could be taught in a communicative
way. Drawing on my teaching experience as a secondary school English
language teacher and an academician-cum-lecturer, I am of the view
that the above two concerns could be resolved amicably if the roles
and functions of education could be appreciated in the larger context
of a nation.

Thus the determining factor in implementing the above policy, to my
mind, will not be impaired by the concerns raised. I believe a close
coordination among the leadership of the different departments in the
various ministries coupled with sincerity and commitment could ensure
the success of our country’s educational reforms.



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