Parents for PPSMI, make your presence felt — Toh Boo Huat
MARCH 1 — One raw deal after another. Enough is enough!
In the first place, the various roundtable talks in 2008 only discussed about re-considering PPSMI in primary schools, a fact attested to by the PAGE chairperson who attended three of the roundtable talks. However, the decision that followed shocked many as it was a blanket one that affected all students from primary to secondary level.
Pro-PPSMI parents were left stunned but reacted almost immediately. In three years, countless surveys were done, roadshows carried out, SMS-es and letters written to the press, numerous appeals made at the PM’s office in Putrajaya, tens of thousands of petition letters submitted to the PM and DPM but all to no avail.
Our national leaders nonchalantly continued to brush us aside by choosing to conclude that the majority, especially the rural Malays, do not want PPSMI. A survey by JMM proved otherwise. A similar nationwide phone survey conducted by the Ministry of Education unsurprisingly disappeared into a black hole.
Lame excuses — that rural pupils are unable to cope with PPSMI, not enough teachers who can teach both these subjects in English, PPSMI is not the right tool to learn and improve English — were used to justify abolishing PPSMI. But, staring back glaringly at these lame excuses are the following facts:
● MRSMs, where more than 90 per cent of their students are from the poor and rural communities, are conducting the curriculum fully in English.
● NUTP has publicly declared that its teachers are ready to conduct science and mathematics lessons in either English or Bahasa Malaysia.
● PPSMI enables learning science and mathematics best in their lingua franca i.e. English. It was not intended to be a primary tool for teaching English.
The education minister finally granted a little concession in November 2011 by allowing students who have started PPSMI to continue till the end of their school days. Notably, the minister also chose to emphasise during the same announcement that “less than five per cent of 7,495 primary schools and under nine per cent of 2,192 secondary schools use English completely in the learning of mathematics and science for the year 2011.” With no detailed information offered, many were sceptical about the figures.
Even this little joy has now metamorphosed into agony for some. Headmasters who decided against the wishes of students and parents alike by conducting only MBMMBI said it was the directive from District Education Office. Meanwhile, the District Education Office insisted that headmasters have full prerogative to decide.
The various attempts by the ministers and Ministry of Education to downplay the clamour for PPSMI reached a new low when, without an iota of proof, PPSMI was amusingly blamed for the declining interest in science and mathematics among our students.
Feeling utterly hopeless and left with mounting frustration, exasperated pro-PPSMI parents groups such as CPS, MAGPIE, HOPE from few states have collectively decided to gather in Petaling Jaya.
This gathering, called Parents for PPSMI (P4P) at Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya, is planned for March 10 at 10am. It aims to loudly voice our rights to “an education in the language according to the wishes of parents”.
Let us congregate in large numbers. Sacrifice a few hours of your Saturday morning to support PPSMI and to seek an overall review of our education for the benefit of our children. If you want science and mathematics to continue to be taught in English and be made available to all your children and grandchildren, and if you feel that the standard of our education is not up to par and needs a major overhaul, be there on March 10.
This issue concerns us, you and I. No child yet? Not married yet? What about your brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, cousins? Surely, a loved one is affected.
If you are worried about the possible intimidation by the authorities, don’t be. After all, we are parents or future parents who want what is best for our children. Even some of our leaders and civil servants, including teachers themselves, are just as unhappy with the decision to abolish PPSMI. They too are parents and some have come forward to give their silent support to us. Therefore, we beg the authorities to let parents have their say loud and clear, peacefully. Let us parents have a day to voice our concerns in numbers.
No one should fault parents for speaking their minds. Clearly, it is within the Education Act 1996 that parents have the right to state their wishes in the matter of their children’s education. By showing this dissent, the intention is not to oppose the government but for the government to hear us out and meet our wishes urgently.
The country cannot afford to waste any more time in delaying the reinstatement decision. By the end of this year, a million children would have had 20 per cent less exposure time in the English language in their classroom. That equates to 2.5 months in a year of lesser English time compared to those who are privy or so-called privy to PPSMI. The Years 1 and 2 now and the following new primary school goers should not be discriminated against having the option of PPSMI based on their age.
Gather your courage and show up for their sake! Participate and help make this “Parents for PPSMI (P4P)” gathering a catalyst for the betterment of our children and the future of our nation.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.