Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flexible PPSMI option is feasible, Muhyiddin says

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin defended the government's decision to allow some flexibility in choosing the medium to learn Science and Mathematics for those affected by the scrapping of the policy to teach the subjects in English, saying it was feasible.

“Parents need not worry because the schools will be able to facilitate (the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English or PPSMI) according to the needs and suitability in the respective schools.

“It can be done,” he told a press conference after meeting the first batch of 50 top graduates, who will teach in schools in disadvantaged communities, under the Teach for Malaysia programme.

Reiterating the policy is “only to make things easier” for the students, Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister said the most important issue is in ensuring that the classes continue without any confusion in schools, especially in regards to the ministry's decision to allow students to transfer to schools that offer the subjects in English.

In 2009, the government decided to scrap the policy in stages starting 2012, but decided on a "soft-landing" approach following protests from some quarters.

It then declared that students who had started learning the subjects in the language may opt to maintain them, and that it will be up to heads of the respective schools whether to continue PPSMI.

The ministry would also facilitate the transfer of students to schools where PPSMI was still being followed.

Muhyiddin said schools have the capacity and are able to facilitate the transfers in terms of space and workforce.

“Our decision is right. Parents are important but not as important as the students who are learning in schools.

“(At the) End of the day it is between the students and teachers for a smooth learning situation,” he said.

Asked if the school’s Parents and Teachers’ Association (PTA) will be given the chance to decide which medium will be used, Muhyiddin said: “The power is given to heads because they are the ones involved in the implementation of learning and teaching in schools.”

“Since it is a new announcement, there would be many interpretations of the policy.

“There are still a few things that need to be explained to the schools,” he said, adding that once the briefing is done the schools will be able to implement the policy," he added.

Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Angkatan) president and Umno veteran leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today said the government had neglected to develop English as part of the education policy.

“English is a very important subject internationally and if you go back to the Razak reform (based on the Razak Report in 1956 which formed the educational framework for Malaysia), you will see that while the national language is to be taught in schools at all levels, until the tertiary level, this does not mean that English is to be sidelined, because it remains a second language," he said, adding that there were also not enough teachers trained to facilitate PPSMI.

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, in a statement, said that the government’s policy of Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Empowering English should include English as a compulsory passing subject to ensure the mastery in the language.

He said when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed was the Minister of Education, he announced a policy making Bahasa Malaysia as a compulsory subject to pass in all major examinations passed, thus forcing all people to learn the language.

“The same method should be done for English, making it a compulsory pass subject, and it will lead to acceptance at all levels, whether parents, schools, teachers and pupils,” he said.

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