Friday 12 July 2013


by: Chan Foong Hin

I was shocked with the statement made by Deputy Education Minister I, Mary Yap Kain Ching in parliament that, the motive of the teaching of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy was not to improve the command of English, in reply to Hasbullah Othman (BN-Gerik) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, when Hasbullah asked about the merits achieved under the PPSMI policy.
First, Deputy Minister’s statement was totally contradicting with itself, when she also mentioned that 'PPSMI’s objective was not to master English, but to obtain information in science and mathematics'. My question is, if the student command in English is poor, then how can they obtain information in science and mathematics which taught in English?
Second, Yap’s statement indeed misled the house. Everybody knows that PPSMI was the brainchild of our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir. When Ministry of Education introduced the policy in 2002/2003, the below statement was made.
'In conclusion, the policy decision to implement PPSMI was made to ensure students’ mastery in science and mathematics in view of the fact that most of the sources are available in the English language. Indirectly, it is also hoped that the implementation of PPSMI would contribute to the enhancing of students’ command of the language'.
Hence, it is misleading the house when Yap denied that one of the initial objectives was enhancing students’ command of the language.
Third, Yap has failed to answer the question posed by her own colleague, a BN/UMNO backbencher. Hasbullah’s question is about 'what have achieved', and not 'what has been introduced to improve English command'. Then why should she refers to the objective of the PPSMI and concluded with what other programs undertaken by government to improve the English command among the students?
Forth, Yap should be honest to the house. Despite RM6 billion has been spent on equipment, teacher training and incentives etc, this policy was short lived, implemented from 2003 before it was finally shelved in 2011.
The current Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin advocated to abolish this policy, with the justifications that only poor returns of 4% in English language achievement (PEMBINA report), Mathematics and Science achievement among students fell when compared to the previous results published in 2003 (2007 TIMSS report).
In short, PPSMI was abolished because it can’t improve English command, as well as it drags the Mathematics and Science achievement! As Deputy Education Minister, why shouldn’t she just supports her current boss and conclude that the PPSMI has failed to achieve it’s objectives? As simple as that!
Yap should learn the way of a politicians to articulate his or her ideas in the house. Definitely, parliament is not a school, and answering parliamentary questions is not undertaking disciplinary action against students.
Just look at the way of news narrating, even BERNAMA editor also thinks that Yap acts like a 'headmistress' and 'scolds MPs for not paying attention'. Don’t sidestep the question asked to other topic and ignorant to further questions. The attitude of "this is my answer and if you are not interested, I would stop to answer any" would not earn any political mileage to a politicians.

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