This article in TheStar made the most interesting reading today. It is about the final round-table meeting that was held yesterday concerning the use of English in teaching Science and Math in schools. I am actually really curious to find out what language the meeting was conducted in. Regardless, the most revealing information provided by the article were the statistics (I abhor statistics).
From an earlier article, the number of students that opted to answer the papers in English were 159,234 (Science – 31%) and 238,153 (Math – 64%). This is a marked increase compared to last year, which had 1,324 (Science) and 1,075 (Math). At the very least, we can be assured that a very large number of students are comfortable with answering things in English. However, it would have been more interesting to find out the urban/rural breakdown of these numbers.
Yesterday, more statistics were revealed, with the overall results in both urban and rural schools averaging upwards and that the performance of English has gone up by a significant 4.4% while BM remained stable. So, these results show that the students can cope with the subjects in English and it may have had a positive effect on English as a whole. Okay, I am taking some liberties with causality here but it is at least a positive sign, if not a cause.
However, the most telling statistics were those that were released for the SJK schools. In SJKT schools, 62.8% and 89.1% answered the Science and Math papers in English, in contrast with SJKC schools where only 2.9% and 1.3% answered the papers in English. Now, this is very surprising and statistically significant.
Personally, I don’t understand the resistance in SJKC schools. I guess that the teaching quality there must not be as good, with students fearing to take the subjects in English. Alternatively, they was instruction for them to avoid the English papers, which would not surprise me one bit. Otherwise, there is no statistical reason why these SJKC students should buck the national trend of a marked increase in adoption of English as the Science/Math language. To me, this has been to their detriment as we do not have any significant data on how well the SJKC students coped with the subject.
The round-table meeting resulted in 7 potential proposals:
- Stick to Mathematics and Science in English;
- Revert to Bahasa Malaysia;
- Let primary schools teach both subjects in the mother tongue and secondary schools use English;
- Let primary schools decide for themselves;
- Mathematics and Science be taught in Bahasa Malaysia and mother tongue for Years One to Three and in English from Year Four onwards;
- A combination of mother tongue in the first three years and a choice of mother tongue or English after that; and
- The two subjects will not be taught in Years One to Three and instead be integrated into other subjects.
I would like to add an 8th proposal. Personally, I think that the solution is clear. Science and Mathematics should continue to be taught in English for all schools except SJKC schools where there is an apparent resistance. There has even been alleged threats of protests from the Dong Jiao Zong. So, SJKC schools should be allowed to teach these subjects in Mandarin if they so wish to. This will doubly ensure their slow but timely death as their brethren experienced in Singapore. No sane parent would enroll their kids in SJKC schools if they are the only ones resisting this positive move.
To me, this is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. I’m surprised that nobody came up with this suggestion. They must be quite daft for failing to see the obvious.
** Pic from TheStar article. Not mine.