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Friday, 10 July 2009

Back to School.


 

I am now re-reading a book written by G.E.D Lewis. The title is Out East In The Malay Peninsula. Dr Lewis wrote a PhD thesis on the mental abilities of the Chinese and Malay students. His sample was a few thousand school students in one school in Negeri Sembilan. Readers can read some basic observations made by Dr Lewis in his book.

On page 164-165, Dr Lewis recounted his meeting with Abdul Razak bin Hussein. Abdul Razak of course went on to become our second Prime Minister. He became known to us as Tun Abdul Razak. On page 165, Dr Lewis had this to say:-

He (Razak) showed great interest in my Ph.D. when he learnt that the subject of my thesis was a comparative study of the intellectual ability of Malays and Chinese. Indeed he was the first Malay to read it. We discussed the matter on a number of occasions and he agreed with me that the Malays were seriously handicapped by their rural environment. When we discussed how best to ameliorate this handicap, I thinking only in educational terms promoted the idea of more hostels, but Razak suggested it would be more effective if the problem was tackled on a wider front, that is by improving the general infrastructure of the rural areas for example by building new roads, etc in rural areas. And that of course is precisely what he did when he became deputy prime minister.

We have just been told that from 2012 onwards, maths and science will be taught in Malay. One of the reasons given is –such a step will balance things up between rural and urban students The conventional thinking is, teaching the subjects in English severely handicap the rural school children. If the subjects are taught in the natural language of rural children and the urban students are now made to also learn the subjects in the language, then the imbalance will be corrected.

Without further facts from the proponents of teaching in Malay, I would have to assume, since the other subjects other than maths and science are taught in Malay, the standards attained by rural students are the same as urban students or better. I hope they are.

But as the facts reveal, the standards achieved by rural students on an overall basis is lower than that of urban students. Wait a minute- these subjects are not taught in English. then what account for the difference? Do we then conclude rural performance is lower because these subjects are taught in a different Malay?

The differences are accountable by something else. The educationist minds will be thinking like GED Lewis. The politicians and policy makers need to adopt the perceptive mind of Tun Razak.

The differing levels of achievement are accounted for by different reasons and not the English language.

In Tun Razak's time they were the physical support system. Now, they are the physical and psychological support system.

Back then, Tun Razak was already exercising dynamic thinking. In my earlier article I mentioned the 3 important legs in dynamic thinking. These are thinking ahead, thinking again and thinking across.

Allow me to illustrate one unrehearsed example of this kind of thinking. I have just read comments from the ever perceptive and insightful Walla:-

Proponents of the reversal will ask if the student is hampered from understanding in the first place, how can he acquire knowledge? The answer to that will have to conclude on how much knowledge is out there which is in bahasa. If the answer is a lot, then one can be sufficiently assuaged. But we all know this isn't so. Knowledge as envisaged by the proponents seems to be what you can get from the local textbooks. Those books that fit the exam syllabus. But what happens after that? You will meet a vast ocean of knowledge that is locked away just because of one factor - the access language. Translation from English to Bahasa is impossible for the quantity and rate of growth of present knowledge in English. And that's for all subjects, not just science and maths.

Our politicians and policy makers miss these points:

  1. How much knowledge out there is in Bahasa Melayu?
  2. Access to a deeper reservoir of knowledge is denied because we don't have the access language.

It is difficult to reject the proposition that if you lock up the Malay students in Language prison, you will inevitably lock them out from the wider market. I say it again, the market will punish us and it will penalise the Malay students most.

12 comments:

KS Cheah 10 July 2009 at 21:40  

It looks like the durian fell too far from the tree! Like father, not like the son.

Suci Dalam Debu 10 July 2009 at 21:43  

Datok,

I am lost for words at the moment. All because our leaders are now confirmed to be seriously lacking in so many faculties except those associated with KKN.

Why have they become so, I seriously don't know? I am even not very sure after kicking them out, their replacement will be any more competent because for at least 2 generations now, the best we could produce are half-past six leaders.

I cry thinking about the future of my children.

Anonymous,  11 July 2009 at 01:12  

Komen pantas dari saya. Dari zaman dulu hingga ke hari ini kita sering membandingkan kelebihan orang lain dengan kelemahan kita. Hasilnya, kita akan sentiasa mengagungkan orang lain. Samalah juga dengan membandingkan kelebihan BI vs kekurangan BM. Sudah semestinya kita akan dapati BI lebih universal dan lengkap dari BM sebab itulah kelebihannya. Bilalah agaknya kita akan mula bercakap mengenai kelebihan BM? Dah 52 tahun merdeka dah ni......

Dikurung di dalam penjara bahasa??apalah agaknya perasaan mereka yang tidak memahami BI tapi terpaksa belajar S&M dalam BI? Sama juga... dikurung, dihukum dan dinafikan hak untuk mendapat asas S&M, semata-mata kerana mu BI.

Untuk mendalami Islam, kita akan dapat banyak kelebihan jika menguasai Bahasa Arab. Mungkin selepas ini kita boleh mulakan gerakan belajar Ugama Islam di sekolah dalam Bahasa Arab pula???

Almeisan

Are You Gonna Go My Way,  11 July 2009 at 02:04  

Dato,

let me add a liitle. When i was in primary school in Gemas..N9, in SRJK(I) we had a debate among us student after our daily football game. All were included in the roadside debate the malays, chinese and indian etc.The topic was why the chinese so smart..not only in school but in business. Even the dropout chinese student can become a business man..at least he can own a mechanic workshop. My answer was look at the bookstore. Do you see any magazine/books on cars, engineering, photography, electronics manual in Bahasa Malaysia? There were none it was either in English or chinese. The chinese version were all imported from hongkong, taiwan or china. That was my reason..and my reason still applies even today. The only malay magazine worth reading at that time was Mastika the malay version of readers digest(not now because Mastika has become a ghost story magazine).

The chinese dont need DBP for translation like we malays do because they have those in mainland china, taiwan, hong kong and singapore doing it for them.

So its not a level playing field...the Malays are losing actually..and losing fast.

Frank,  11 July 2009 at 06:46  

Datuk Sako

I find your argument very persuasive.

Unfortunately politics dictate over and above sound policy decisions. and Malay politics over ride sound national development policies.

The NEP is an economic policy yet it turned into a Bumiputra policy. Petronas is a national entity and turned into a goose that lays the golden eggs for UMNO's politics.

National education system became a racial system that now divides more than integrate.

Datuk, your fight within UMNO is a losing battle. Your vision can only be achieved outside UMNO... and you know what I mean. It is people like you and Zaid Ibrahim, Azmin Ali and Anwar Ibrahim that Malaysians are looking forward for the next Malaysia, that is less race based and more national based

Anonymous,  11 July 2009 at 10:06  

I am a pro Pakatan supporter.

To be fair, this decision would have also found support with the Pakatan team.

PAS and DSAI (ie PKR) is also 110% behind the move to switch back to BM.

Even DAP seems v much muted in its response.

Nobody now wants to be seen as 'anti-Malay' to support the continuance of teaching in English.

Big big mistake, at least in this one instance, one must agree, TDM had the foresight to make the switch and the political guts to stick with it.

sumoberek12,  11 July 2009 at 14:23  

Balik ke sekolah 1
BI di kampong lemah dari bandar
BI di Pantai Barat lebih dari Pantai Timur
BI Di kawasan kaya lebih dari miskin.
Jadi hendak jadi BI , hendaklah kamu duduk di Bandar di pantai barat dan orang kaya. Yang lain tu kes terpencil.

Balik ke sekolah 2
Buka majalah sekolah anda yang lama, budak tingkatan 6 tahun 70an, aliran sastera adalah banyak melayu
Aliran sains 2 , 3 melayu.
Mereka belajar dalam BI dalam semua bahasa tapi anak melayu tak terror Maths & Sc. Mungkin mereka hampas setelah di tapis oleh ITEK, KP, serdang atau Colombo. Mereka dari satera dok jadi Pengawai PTA atau PTD . Nak jadi loyar, ke akautan ke tak mahu - susah.

Balik ke sekolah 3
Jadi kita belajar BI untuk Ugama , Ekonomi,Akaun, Sejarah atau Ilmu Alam . Boleh gi kerja di Wall Street. Dan belajar BI dengan betul, reading, writing; grammar,kemudian communication skill.


~pemborong payong masi lemak

ajoyly 11 July 2009 at 18:41  

The differences in the abilities of the rural and urban students in their studies maybe due to the environment they live in. Pace of life in the villages are slow and relaxed while in the towns and cities are fast. The rat race makes speed very important. So urban dwellers and students tend do their activities and studies respectively in the same manner. And they are also exposed to the culture of, 'to be successful, one has to acquire the relevant knowledge and work hard accordingly'.

It would be wrong to think that in studying mathematics and science in English, the same situation would not exist. It does and the liability would be more on the rural students as there is no glitter and the rich lifestyle to motivate them. That success is to be measured by the acquisition of all these. Rural students are also more docile unlike their city cousins who are more agressive in their outlook. And tend to enjoy competition too.

Taking environment including culture as the primary factors in differentiating the performances of rural and urban students, the government must work out a scheme to stream the students according to their abilities. For rural students, they are therefore more suited for agricultural and related activities. Courses in management, economics,engineering, architechural, medical, social and connected fields are more appropriate to students studying in the towns and cities.

By doing this, the government would be killing two birds with one stone. It will restrict young people from the villagers moving to the urban areas and vice-versa for youths from the towns and cities.

Anonymous,  11 July 2009 at 22:12  

It is difficult to reject the proposition that if you lock up the Malay students in Language prison, you will inevitably lock them out from the wider market.

===
Dato Sak,

Try telling that to Gapena, especailly the like of the Prof. who appeared on the TV talkshow on the abolishment of PPSMI.

Gapena is not concern about the market, they are comfortable being the 'katak dibawah tempurung" .

Just because there are a few books translated into BM, they are crowing about BM as a language being equal to English in the world of science and technology.

They are thinking that with the few books on science and technology available in BM we are going to be able to produce towering Malaysian scientists and technologist.

Malaysia mesti bolih

dbwing 11 July 2009 at 22:13  

English Is A Good Communication Tool To Me:
1. I make use of it to acquire new knowledge(web devlopement tools);
2. Help me to settle my daily technical problems encounterd via
mostly english forum sites;
3. Via English media sites, it is easier/quicker to get the resources I required(compared to the mandarin sites);

I would quite upset if my daughters were to have their maths & science taught in other languages other than English.

CYC,  13 July 2009 at 15:46  

English is important as a tool to acquire knowledge especially in the internet era.But there are 2 aspects within the dilemma we are facing now.

1. Competency of the teachers,and the rotten education system.
2. Language used in our system.

First of all, if problem No. 1 is unresolved, you can have whatever language yet the result will remain disastrous. The additional resources channeled will be a complete waste.

By enforcing a more progressive and stringent policy that make English a compulsory subject and concurrently upgrade the competency of our teaching workforce shall be the just solution. So, why not allow maths and science continue to be taught in the respective medium of instruction in primary school and only convert to English in secondary school onwards. In this manner, the rural students will have 6 years to prepare themselves to master a basic English skill and face lesser difficulties when enter secondary school.

Seri,  20 July 2009 at 17:13  

Dato' walau pun english bagus as communication tools dan reference dan berbagai dalam bahasa inggeris.

Tapi yg org ramai yg berstatus sederhana walaupun kami tidak bijak pandai dan reti bercakap orang putih dengan fluent nya.

Sekurang2 nya kami tau membezakan dan merasakan tak adilnya kami di lanyak sedemikian rupa, kerana:-

1) ada unsur2 tak adil, bilamana kerajaan tidak memikirkan dengan logik dan rasional bilamana sekolah rendah di kuatkuasakan matematik dan sains dalam bahasa inggeris, sedangkan org2 sederhana dan kebanyakan macam kami hanya boleh menghantar anak ke TADIKA KEMAS DAN PERPADUAN yg langsung tidak menitik beratkan penguasaan bahasa inggeris, supaya boleh anak2kami memahami bahasa itu di darjah 1.


2)Soalan2 yang disediakan utk matematik dan sains walaupun hanya setakat kira campur, tetapi keupayaan bahasa juga di uji, bila diberi soalan masalah yg menggunakan ayat2 dalam bahasa inggeris. Umum mengetahui utk berkupayaan menjawab, english language nya kenalah "excellent"


3) Kerajaan cakap tak serupa bikin, sana sini heboh malaysia boleh itu ini, tapi tang bahasa malaysia, rakyatnya yg berkemampuan cakap "Tak boleh" bahasa melayu didalam bidang ilmu.
Adakah slogan utk rakyat bawahan, Tapi bila di alam persekolahan semacam ada kumpulan berbeza. Yang educated maupun english dan yg hidup sepenuhnya di malaysia dan hidup sederhana maukan bahasa melayu.

3) Bila pilihanraya kamu menepuk2 belakang si orang miskin dan sederhana, dan membodek2 undi mereka. Tapi dalam masa yg sama si org kaya dan ber educated (konon nya) menjadi informasi kerajaan utk membuat perkara2 terbaik utk negara samada dalam undang2 dan pelaksanaan; belum tentu mengundi anda. Cuba tanyalah org2 kaya yg ada, melainkan yg dapat projek kerajaan dan aktif dalam umno. Termasuk yg komen2 dan tak suka org itu dan ini dalam blog, belum tentu mereka mengundi pun.

Jadi ada double standard dalam masyarakat, yg kaya menjadi puak pemaksa tetapi byk yg memberi pendapat dan sokongan yg dikira baik hanya utk golongan itu saja.


4) Tiada usaha utk memperbanyak kan ilmu2 di dalam bahasa malaysia. Tiada kerana byk golongan melayu, aristokrat dan lain2 yg seangkatan tidak peduli sama bahasa melayu, dibandingkan dengan dahulu, golongan2 inilah yg membuat buku sejarah2, melayu dan segala karangan gurindam maupun buku2 yg berteraskan agama.

Sekarang org2 yg berkuasa dan mempunyai pengaruh lebih gemar membesarkan bahasa inggeris. Pendapat2 yg berbeza ini membuat rakyat jelata semakin merugi dan ahli politik dan yg berkuasa mendapat laba pulangan yg sudah tentu tidak di ingini.

5) Tersebar budaya memberi pendapat, semua nya seakan pandai, semuanya mempertikai, membuat kan kerajaan menjadi serba tak kena kepada org2 tertentu dalam apa yg sedang diperbuatnya utk kebaikan.

Kami memerlukan pemimpin yg tegas utk memerangi anasir2 yg berleluasa ini, dan rakyat2 yg kononya pandai dan terpelajar, tapi sebenarnya tidak, yg menyumbang kepada jatuh nya negara malaysia, jika dibiarkan berlarutan.

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