It seems that the government may just end up reverting the teaching of science and mathematics back to the mother tongues, instead of the present system of teaching it in English. The logic and evidence behind this decision is also highly flawed. Personally, I do not think that it is a good idea.
Educational policy should never be dictated by the electorate. Parents do not know what is good for their kids, especially parents who are themselves, products of the non-English education system. It is undeniable that English is the lingua franca of the sciences and the children will have to face it at some point. If we choose to let them face it at university, it is no different from what we have today and we will end up producing graduates who are forced to study with a dictionary by their side, have a poor command of the language, and are unable to find jobs inside or outside the country.
Many people blame the fact that the content isn’t as important as the delivery. So, there is no point teaching it in English if the teachers themselves are unable to deliver the content in English. This is precisely our problem. The current crop of teachers today are the very byproducts of a system that reverted away from English, decades ago. If we decide to revert away from English again, we will just end up producing more of the same teachers who are unable to teach in English. Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
Statistics given by the government reveal that the kids themselves are not doing as well in primary school, as their seniors did when the subjects were taught in non-English. Obviously, if the kids have parents who are unable to comprehend English and are unable to help them in their school work, it is perfectly understandable that they will be at a disadvantage. So, the parents will not be able to brag about their child’s progress in school. So, what?
The correct response to this problem should be to fix the delivery of the curriculum instead of reverting back to the mess it was before. I can appreciate that it is going to be difficult to retrain the existing crop of teachers, whom are byproducts of the previous mess. Heck, even the trainers themselves are probably from the same mess. So, I would propose an alternative solution. One solution is to bring in existing people who are already capable of speaking English.
This may entail recruiting expatriates into the teaching fraternity. As there are many unemployed foreign spouses around, this may not be as difficult as it may seem at first. I am sure that almost everyone of them would be capable of teaching primary school mathematics and science, once they are given some teacher training. It would also solve the problem of them not being able to secure jobs within the country.
If there are not enough foreign spouses to go around, hire in other expatriates. Considering that we are not really paying the Phillipino maids more than a teacher, it may actually be a good idea. Many of these maids are actually graduates themselves, and have a good command of English. They may actually be willing to teach, which is far easier to being a maid, and pays just as well, if not better.
If this isn’t enough, hire actual expatriate teachers from any country. Open up the teaching profession to anyone from anywhere, as long as they are properly qualified to teach science and maths. Pay them better than the other teachers. In fact, any local teachers who are willing to retrain themselves to teach in English, should be paid equal to these expatriates. That should be sufficient encouragement to induce people to actually make the switch.
We will not need to do this forever. We will only need to rely on the expatriates for several years, until the current crop of students make it through university and are reinserted back into the system.
Anyway, I am biased. I personally think that regressing back to the old mess is a bad idea.