‘Baffled’ by Malaysians’ poor English? Look in the mirror, Muhyiddin toldThe Malay Mail Online – 1 hour 8 minutes ago
Two parents group cited Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s abolition of PPSMI as the major reason for the weakness he noted. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Parents groups have reminded Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin of his role in ending the Policy of Teaching Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), after the deputy prime minister remark that he is “baffled” by continued poor standards of English in the country.
Pointing to the controversial reversal in 2009, barely half a decade after it was introduced by the Mahathir administration, two parents group cited Muhyiddin’s abolition of PPSMI as the major reason for the weakness he noted.
“Why is Muhyiddin puzzled when he was among those who were instrumental in forcing the policy to be discontinued?” said Concerned Parents of Selangor (CPS) coordinator Shamsuddin Hamid.
Although acknowledging that Malaysians’ grasp of English began declining after the medium of instruction in schools were changed to Bahasa Melayu over three decades ago, Shamsuddin said the downward trend was exacerbated by Putrajaya’s shaky stand on the matter.
“Muhyiddin must know that teaching the English language on an isolated basis within limited hours compounded with unsound pedagogy and curriculum will surely takes its toll on the students,” Shamsuddin told Malay Mail Online.
“There is no room for the children to practice the language apart from the English language lessons. Just like any other languages, English needs to be practiced by way of immersion and there was some improvement when PPSMI was introduced,” he asserted.
Most English-medium primary schools in the country switched the medium of instruction to the Malay language by 1975, and in secondary schools by 1983.
However, in a bid to strengthen the teaching and learning of English, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad introduced PPSMI in 2003, but the administration under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reversed the policy in 2009 and reverted to using Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction.
Critics of the reversal contend that it was made to appease Malay nationalists and conservative groups who viewed a weak grasp of Bahasa Melayu and a mastery of English to be indicative of disloyalty to the country.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin expressed bafflement over the poor command of English among Malaysian graduates despite having learnt the language close to two decades.
Stating that “something is not right” Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, added that lack of proficiency in the English language could be due to a myriad of causes, including teachers and students — who are uninterested in the subject — as well as the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the sole medium of instruction in all subjects taught in schools.