Thursday, March 12, 2009

Teaching & Learning of Science & Maths in English...

This is such a hot topic everywhere!

Briefly, I'm going to throw in my two-cent worth of wisdom on this matter and I do mean briefly. The reason for not making an academic discourse on this topic is there's such an overwhelming discussion and writings about the pros and cons of the present Malaysian policy.

Let me say that I have found more people-overwhelming, in fact-in support for the continuation of the policy of teaching and learning Science and Mathematics in English.

It is so hard to comprehend how the teaching of two very important progressive and technological subjects with an international language like English in an era of global scientific development could ever distract a nation from the policy of having Malay as the lingua franca for all, as the critics of this policy claim.

"If everything is in Malay, the language will be the true national language!" so they believe.

In a narrow-minded sense this sounds plausable: in theory, everyone is compelled to know everything in Malay.

It doesn't "hold much water" though as the ancient Chinese proverb says, in practice.

Beside the lack of sufficient technological materials in Malay, there are other concerns.

One out of a host of many others is the English-ignorant graduates.

There were many at one stage.

Are we going backwards closer into the "Dark Ages" when students who went through the disturbing Malaysian educational system in the late '70s & '80s were so poor in English that many of them needed private tuition to help them in their careers/academic pursuits?

I remembered how sorry I felt for those many embarrassed engineers and others who were employed by a major oil and gas company who sought my tutorial help in preparing reports in English. These "products" of the ill-advised failed policy were certainly not appreciative of the policy-makers in Kuala Lumpur who condemned them in such a miserable situation.

I could imagine how many of these graduates who couldn't use their limited Malay scientific knowledge have ended up waiting at tables or slaving it out in kitchens!

Of course, I can imagine those, including local publishers and other self-interested beneficiaries who profit from writing in Malay both academically and non-academically creating noises about the national language but do they consider the general interest of the rakyat at large? No man is an island, and if these narrow-minded few Malaysians attempt to create an island, Malaysia is doomed in this world that is becoming fast globalised.

That is my two-cent worth of words.

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