Will PEMANDU's Survey on English In Schools Bring Change To The Education System?

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) wants to know what Malaysians think about the incorporation of the English language in local schools.

  • The importance of the English language in local schools have been stressed on for decades now, with constant debates and changes in the education system, testing multiple theories brought up on the matter.

    Providing clarity to the hazy subject, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) is conducting a survey on the importance of local students mastering the English language.

    • PEMANDU is an organisation under the Prime Minister's department that was launched in 2009 to facilitate and implement all reformations by the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

      The education sector is one of the main components to play a major role under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that was started to transform Malaysia into becoming a high-income nation by the year 2020.

  • The survey that was launched on 6 October, aims to get Malaysians to express their views on the 'importance of being proficient in English', in particular thoughts and suggestions on implementing this global language in Malaysian schools

      • 736a Image via PEMANDU
    • Questions in the survey mostly seek answers from general Malaysians on increasing the usage of English language in public schools.

      Two subjects in focus were Mathematics and Science, as these subjects are constantly evolving and the updates and discoveries are mostly documented in English.

      With questions such as; In your opinion, should some subjects in schools be taught in English to improve students’ proficiency in the language?, this study by PEMANDU has the potential to gauge what the masses think about using more English in schools and whether or not it would affect the position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

      The survey, which has 7 questions, will end by 5pm on 11 October, this Saturday.

  • This interactive survey poses some interesting questions that allow Malaysians to give suggestions on the kind of subjects that should be taught in English, adding to the suggestions PEMANDU has already provided, that includes History, Geography, and Arts

      • 825c Image via PEMANDU
      • B3f0 Image via PEMANDU
  • English is the world's first world language and is the medium most widely used in publishing, trade, scientific, diplomacy, and the entertainment industry.

    Schools in Malaysia started off as English-medium schools and remained that way until the 1970s, when the national language policy was introduced and Bahasa Malaysia became the medium of instruction instead.

  • Commending PEMANDU's keen efforts to improve the education system with this survey, Air Asia group chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes thinks falling English standards in the country is the reason behind Malaysia losing its edge in the global scene

    • “Malaysia has lost its competitiveness due to our standards in English going down. We can’t run away from English. It’s the global language.

      “Imagine if all our kids were proficient in English like they were in the old days. Plus could speak Bahasa Mandarin and Tamil. Wow,” he said via his Twitter handle, @tonyfernandes.

      Sharing a link to the survey, the AirAsia boss called on Malaysians to complete the survey and get it going viral, adding that the airline had done its part by promoting the survey on its website.

      “Our country has so much potential. It’s time for silent majority to speak up. I have tried in my small way. But I’m going to be louder,” he added.

  • Another party happy with PEMANDU's survey on English in schools is the Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE), that is hopeful a positive outcome of the survey would lead to the comeback of English in Mathematics and Science subjects

      • Parents Action Group for Education (Page) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim
    • Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Rahim said they were looking at teaching Mathematics, Science and ICT in English soon.

      Noor Azimah said one of the aims of the survey was to consider more subjects taught in English but realistically, two or three subjects were enough for now.

      “We have to be realistic ... not all teachers are bilingual. We just do what we can,” she said.

      Noor Azimah said Mathematics, Science and ICT should be taught in English, in line with the government’s goal of making science and technology the nation’s engine for growth.

  • CEO of PEMANDU Dato' Sri Idris Jala, too, shared the survey, urging Malaysians to complete the short, 7 question survery

  • After 21 years, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in his efforts to modernise and put Malaysia on the global platform, declared that Mathematics and Science would be taught in English in 2003

      • C118 Image via The Rakyat Post
        Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
    • Mahathir was eager to implement this new system, wanting to improve Malaysians' proficiency of the English language and increase chances of employability, both locally and internationally.

  • The sudden emphasis on the English language was poorly received by Malay nationalists that expressed their worries on whether the Malay language would be forgotten and left behind in the midst of Malaysians trying to polish their English language abilities

    • Their concerns were mainly about Malays losing their dignity and forgetting their mother tongues.

      Nevertheless, the new system was enforced in national schools throughout the country and Malaysia saw a renewed and extensive usage of the English language as the system set in.

      Malaysians, mostly supported the notion as the change allowed the students an easier passage into tertiary education, where all the subjects are taught in English.

  • However, just 6 years into the new education transformation program, that successfully incorporated English in the local education system, as more than just a subject, then Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced on 8 July 2009, that Mathematics and Science will be taught in Bahasa Malaysia again

      • 5392 Image via The MOLE
        Former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
    • Muhyiddin, who was also the education minister then, announced that the reversion would only take place in 2012 and that the vernacular schools will go back to teaching Mathematics and Science in their respective mother tongues.

  • Why the reversion back to Bahasa Malaysia?

    • He said the government made the decision after scrutinising the outcome of studies and surveys carried out on the teaching and learning of the two subjects in English, which showed that it could not be implemented as desired.

      Muhyiddin said monitoring by the ministry last year found that only a small group of teachers were using English fully in the teaching of science and mathematics.

      In addition, he said, only a small group of mathematics and science teachers in secondary and primary schools who took the English-language Proficiency Level Evaluation test last year achieved the proficiency level.

      He said the gap in achievement between urban and rural schools had increased when the English Teaching of Mathematics and Science (ETeMS, or its Malay acronym PPSMI) policy was implemented.

  • Despite the ministry's decision to do away with the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, Muhyiddin assured the rakyat, that efforts to improve and strengthen English among students will go on

    • On the teaching and learning of English, he said, the ministry would appoint additional 13,933 English teachers, comprising 1,000 teachers from abroad, 600 retired teachers who would be re-employed, and 12,333 additional teachers from the Malaysian Institute of Teachers’ Education as well as from private and public institutions of higher learning.

      In addition, an English contemporary literature programme for children would also be introduced for all upper primary pupils.

      Other measures would include the setting up of English laboratories in schools. “Schools will also be utilising Information Technology in the teaching and learning of English,” Muhyiddin said.

      To expose students to proper terminology, elements of science and technology would be incorporated into the teaching of English, he added

  • Disagreeing with Muhyiddin, former PM Mahathir has been lobbying against the implementation of Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science

    • Being the one who introduced and emphasised on the widespread usage of the English language, Mahathir stressed that English must be brought back for teaching Mathematics and Science.

      Adding to that, he also expressed his views on the idea of making English a compulsory subject to pass in schools. As of today, the only subject that is compulsory to pass is Bahasa Malaysia.

      He also lamented that he had been receiving complaints about the worsening quality of graduates in Malaysia and the former PM pinned the blame on poor English speaking and writing skills among graduates in the country.

  • Meanwhile, the National Association of Islamic Students, in 2013, insisted that Bahasa Malaysia must be retained as the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science.

    According to the group, failure to do so will cause the Malays to lose their identity.

    • To revert to teaching Science and Mathematics in English will cause the Malays to lose their identity and it is contrary to the spirit of the Federal Constitution which spells out Bahasa Malaysia as the official language, an Islamic students group said.

      "Now English is more widely used than Malay, this is against the Constitution," he noted.

      "Attempts to be like the 'mat salleh' are shocking and if this continues, the Malays would lose their identity completely," he cautioned.

  • This conflicted, unresolved issue lead to the formation of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) in 2010 that has been fighting for Mathematics and Science to be taught in English again

      • 8667 Image via PAGE
        Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia's (PAGE) official site
  • Certain members of the Malaysian society seem like they really dislike the usage of English language in the country, especially, since it isn't our mother tongue. Read how a girl's innocent Facebook post to help her dad got turned into a Malay versus English argument:

  • Another hot debate surrounding the Malaysian education system is the abolishing of vernacular schools, with some politicians saying that it is the only way racial harmony can be restored in the country

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