1.0 Article 1
1.1 PPSMI: Self Serving Decision for Ministry

2.0 Graphic Organizer

3.0 Summary Article 1
3.1 Summary : PPSMI: Self Serving Decision for Ministry

4.0 Article 2
4.1 Use of English: Focus on Improving Teaching of Language

5.0 Graphic Organizer

6.0 Summary Article 2
6.1 Summary : Use of English: Focus on Improving Teaching of
Language Instead

1.0 Article 1
1.1 PPSMI: Self-serving decision for ministry
THE decision to abolish PPSMI (the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English)
was pronounced to be final. However, it will only come into effect in 2012.
Meanwhile, questions are raised and uncertainty reigns to a certain degree.

Like the parents in PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) and many others, I am
harbouring the hope that the Education Ministry will eventually review and modify its

Here are some points worth pondering for further deliberation.

First, the main reason ascribed for abolishing PPSMI was that it had been found
ineffective in either promoting students' understanding of Science and Mathematics or
improving their proficiency in English.

If that is the case, why then are we subjecting two more batches of Year One and Form
One students to the ordeal of learning these two subjects by an approach deemed to
have been ineffective?
This is pedagogically unsound and ethically unacceptable.

The ministry's excuse that it needs the two-year period to get new textbooks ready and
to have teachers reoriented is, at best, self-serving.

It has not at heart the interest and welfare of the affected students.

Second, the Education Ministry had warned teachers that they were bound to continue
teaching the two subjects in English for another two years.

These teachers would also continue to receive incentive allowances for doing so --
graduate teachers an additional five per cent and non-graduate teachers 10 per cent of
their basic salaries.

Now, isn't it ironic and even illogical to give incentive payments to teachers for carrying
on with a teaching policy that has been found ineffective?

Third, the ministry had proposed a "soft landing" for those students caught in the

It was announced that students completing their Form Three next year would be
allowed to continue to learn Science and Mathematics in English for another two years
until they completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

Are these students the only ones affected?

The truth is, all students who enter schools next year and earlier are affected by the
To be truly fair to all, the ministry has to allow the last batch of students which begins
PPSMI in Year One next year to continue learning the subjects in English until they
reach Form Five in 2021.

Needless to say, the same treatment should also be applied to all those students who
came before them.

I suggest that the ministry go back to its "lab" to review its decision on PPSMI.

Hopefully, a new package that is more palatable to both students and parents can be

4.0 Article 2
4.1 Use of English: Focus on improving teaching of language instead

MONTHS of debate on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English
(PPSMI) have not yet led to any decision by the
Education Ministry.

PPSMI is about the teaching of Science and Mathematics in primary schools.

As teachers have been taught during their training, and reminded again and again
during their career by members of the inspectorate and other supervisors, the act of
teaching should result in learning.

In the case of PPSMI, the teacher's aim should be that at the end of her teaching, her
pupils have learnt whatever she has taught. The learning that occurs here could be
spelt out as the acquisition of knowledge, skills, comprehension and values.

Learning being the desired result of teaching, some questions we should ask are: at the
primary level, in what language should Science and Mathematics be taught to facilitate
(a) the acquisition and understanding of scientific facts; (b) the mastery of mathematical
skills; (c) the encouragement of application; and (d) the nurturing of values, such that
primary children will grow up to be citizens sensitive to the needs of preserving the

Clearly, for such learning to take place, the teaching must be in a language understood
by the learners, a language they would have acquired at home.

It does not help them if at the early stage they are expected to learn new facts and skills
in a language foreign to them. It is not even fair to them, for the language itself could be
a barrier to learning.

If we compare children from middle-class English-speaking homes to kampung and
estate children, it may be inferred that PPSMI practises inequality of access to
education. In addition, for learning to take place, there has to be effective teaching.

When PPSMI was introduced, the ministry hurriedly trained trainers who then trained
the teachers of Science and Mathematics in schools to teach in English, irrespective of
their English-proficiency level. Over the years, many more training courses have been

But, as I have said earlier, the teaching of Science and Mathematics embraces more
than the mere acquisition of knowledge and facts.

It is doubtful whether teachers with limited English vocabulary and expression could
motivate children to learn beyond drills to answer exam questions.