PETALING JAYA: Students who began their Standard One in 2003 under the English stream – where Science and Mathematics were taught in English – are now expected to learn Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia when they go to Form Four next year.
The change in the “teaching process” has got parents in the urban Klang Valley are all frantic with anxiety. They are trying to get the Education Ministry to clear up the matter.
So far the bewildered parents have received no statements from their respective school heads but worried students have told their parents that “all Form Four subjects will be taught only in Bahasa Malaysia”.
A housewife, who wanted to be known only as Siva, from Subang Jaya said: “Everyone is confused… I went to inquire from my son’s school and was told that they were waiting for the ministry’s directive. But they said they were unofficially told that the teaching will be in Bahasa Malaysia if you have more than 15 Malay students in Form Four.
“I called the Education Ministry last week to verify this and an officer told me that the teaching of all science subjects in Form Four will be in Bahasa Malaysia.
“She also said some schools have a choice of teaching in English or Bahasa Malaysia depending on how many Malay students they have.”
Let them complete SPM
Another worried parent, who preferred to be called Tan, from Taman Desa, said the new policy was “not fair to our children”.
“We were told at the onset when this batch started Standard One in 2003 that they will complete their Science and Maths in English until SPM (Form Five).
“They should just let them finish it. How can they (the ministry) victimise this batch of students now?
“It’s rubbish to say the exams will be set in dwibahasa (dual language), but all the teaching in the class will be in Bahasa Malaysia.
“Why confuse the students? Already, they are under so much pressure.
“What will happen if the students answer the exam questions in English? Are there enough English proficient teachers and examiners who can give them a fair reading?
“Can the ministry guarantee that our children who answer their exam paper in English will not be victimised?” asked Tan.
No ‘dwi’ bahasa textbook
Another concerned parent, Dr Raja, from Damansara, said he had gone around the bookshops and private stores looking for Form Four Chemistry and Biology books for his son and was shocked to find only Bahasa Malaysia textbooks.
He said the government had promised that the Science and Mathematic books would be ready before it implemented the MBMMBI (Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the English Language) policy in 2012.
But now that parents are wanting to prepare their children for the hard days ahead, there are no books available.
“How are we supposed to assist and prep our children if we cannot find dual language textbooks? I assume the teachers are also not readyto teach the subjects,” said Raja.
“This is crazy. We are not against the Education Ministry’s Bahasa Malaysia policy.
“But it is absolute stupidity to teach the students in English from Standrad One until Form Three and then switch to Bahasa Malaysia in Form Four and Form Five.
“What assurance is there that there are sufficient and capable examiners who will mark their English answers in SPM fairly?
“As it is, my wife spotted so many errors in the ministry-level quarterly tests papers the students sat for regularly before PMR,” said Raja.
BN doesn’t care
Unhappy parents from several schools in Subang Jaya, Damansara and Old Klang Road are now demanding that the Education Ministry stick to its earlier promise, made in 2002, to allow this batch of students to complete their SPM education in English.
But whether the Barisan Nasional-led government will compromise and rescind its decision is a worrying question as most of the complaining parents are from the opposition-held urban areas.
Said a grassroots political activist here, who declined to be named: “In this country, schools, universities and education as a whole are a political issue.
“Education here is not about building minds… it is about churning out loyalists which begins with schools and language.
“(Education Minister) Muhyiddin (Yassin) was firm when he announced a non-reversal of the MBMMBI policy.
“They’ve (BN) done their groundwork and know that those who will complain are the Chinese and Indians, especially those living in the urban areas.
“These are political seats they have already lost… regaining these seats will be a struggle for BN so I don’t expect the BN government to be too concerned about our children.
“Their general perspective of us is that we are disloyal and avaricious.”
Muhyiddin firm on policy
In October last year, Muhyiddin told Parliament that the government will not return to the policy of teaching and learning Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).
He said the new MBMMBI policy was in line with the country’s need to dignify Bahasa Melayu as the national language.
Bernama reported Muhyiddin, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, as saying that the government would not turn back on its decision as it “could not please every group”.
He said the government had set 2012 for its implementation and that students in Year Four, Form One and Form Four would be affected.
Muhyiddin had at the time urged parents not be unduly worried about the reversal of policy.
He said the government was already taking preliminary measures to implement the new policy in 2012.
“We may even have to recruit English teachers from abroad,” he said, adding that the implementation of the new policy also meant that Science and Mathematics textbooks need to be produced in Bahasa Malaysia as well as a new curriculum for teaching English