Hornbill Unleashed

November 19, 2013

‘Oh my English’ debate goes on as STU backs ELTC

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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educationPeter Boon 

The move by the Education Ministry to look at new ways and measures to improve the teaching and learning of English augurs well with Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU).

STU president Jisin Nyud in assuring their support, noted at the moment that the ministry through English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) and other agencies are trying

their best to bring back English and their programme and this is ongoing. (more…)

November 16, 2013

PPSMI good policy but riddled with implementation flaws

Sonia Ramachandran

The teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) was abolished in July 2009, six years after the policy was implemented.

The PPSMI was replaced by the “Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English” (MBMMBI) policy that critics say was made to appease Malay conservatives and nationalists ahead of the general election.

Now, the very man behind the introduction of the PPSMI policy, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is appealing for the return of the policy.


DR M: The Malays lag in education due to your bad policies!

IT'S TOO LATE FOR REGRETS, DR M: The Malays lag in education due to your bad policies!Simon Neoh


Famous for his sarcasm and sharp wits, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad recently made another statement which tickled this little heart of mine.

“I am a Malay and I love the Malay language,” he was quoted saying. “But I also want the Malays to be educated. I beg that the subjects be taught in English again.”  

Don’t be mistaken — it wasn’t that Mahathir was ‘begging’ for Mathematics and Science to be taught in English that made me laugh; instead, I could hardly believe my eyes, when I read the claim to being ‘a Malay’ by this octogenarian, dubbed the Malaysian maverick.


November 1, 2013

How low can you go?

File picture shows the silhouette of a student with a graduation cap during a diploma ceremony at the John F. Kennedy School of Government


  • What is the passing mark for an SPM subject? Many teachers estimate it to be seriously low for some papers, way lower than the school’s benchmark.

WHEN I last wrote that more than 100,000 students, or close to a quarter of those sitting for the SPM English, were at risk of leaving school without an SPM certificate, the response was unexpected.

“Ms Goh,” I was told, “don’t worry, the marks may be lowered even further to allow many to pass.”

And that view, I was surprised to learn, was shared by many.

Teachers who have been teaching upper secondary students as well as examiners who have been grading the exam scripts for many years let on that the passing marks are not all they seem to be. (more…)

Why proficiency in English?

education (1)Lokman Mustafa

Someone recently wrote that impeccable mastery of English language isn’t the ‘be-all and end-all’ in order to attain our goals in life.

What’s more important, according to the writer is the meaning embedded into the language itself. Hence, even if one speaks with broken English, as long as the idea gets through to the audience or listener, we shouldn’t worry as to whether the sentence is grammatically correct or otherwise.

Such a view will surely not go down well with the masters of English language of yore who were known to bellow grammar lessons to students and believed that the basic rules with regard to subject and predicate must first be memorised by heart by those who wish to speak the language. (more…)

August 31, 2013

Nurul Izzah and English

educationVisnu Natesan

Nurul Izzah Anwar made a statement criticizing Dr. Mahathir that he wasted RM 8 billion through the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) program. Nurul further added that a study conducted by UNESCO stated that technical subjects should be taught in students’ mother tongue. However, the writer strongly disagrees with Nurul’s view on the subject.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 different words not including technical and scientific terms. On a similar note, our Kamus Dewan Fourth Edition has over 49,000 words/entries. The Malay language has many loaned words from Sanskrit, Persian, Tamil, Telugu, Greek, Latin, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese dialects. (more…)

June 25, 2013

‘Bring back English medium schools’

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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FMT Staff

Mastering the English language does not make an individual less patriotic or less nationalistic, says PBB’s deputy publicity chief Peter Minos.

Sarawak has called for the return of English medium schools.

State Barisan Nasional’s main party , Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) supreme council member and publicity chief Peter Minos said English medium schools is a “must” if the country aspired to be competitive and recognised internationally.

“English cannot be taught half-heartedly or haphazardly. English medium schools is a ‘must’ to really learn the language. Those of us in schools in the 1950s and 1960s should know. (more…)

June 4, 2013

Let young Malaysians learn and speak English well like we used to before

Education gap wideningHussaini Abdul Karim

Like some Malaysians, I had my education, right from primary school to pre-university between 1959 and 1970, in Singapore and I was taught in English all the way.

When I was in the last two years of secondary school and during the period I was at pre-university, my mother and sometimes, my aunt, took me to visit our relatives in Parit Jawa, Muar in Johor regularly and during every visit, I would meet with some of my cousins who were studying in secondary schools in Muar at that time.

There was a cousin, among the few that I have, who was in Form Four, who was in the science stream and who was very good in mathematics and science (physics and chemistry) and, since we were both taught in English, we would discuss those subjects and exchanged notes. I was then in Secondary Three, the equivalent of Form Four in Malaysian schools. I learned a lot from him and he also gave me some very useful tips on how to solve maths problems. Then, the only way to communicate with each other was through letters as telephones were too costly for us and at that time there was no Internet so, on some occasions we would correspond and exchange notes through letters. (more…)

March 28, 2013

Oh My English!

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Ratnavathy Ragunathan

It’s happening all over again. The government intends to bring in 375 native speaking teachers to teach in schools here.

Disclaimer 1: Facts can be boring, but it is pivotal when wanting to make a change in the nation. If you wish to be a part of the change, then go ahead and read what I have got to say.

Disclaimer 2: There are some brilliant and wonderful native speaking teachers out there, who are doing an amazing job in raising the standards of English Language Teaching (ELT) around the globe. Sadly, none of them are here in our country. (more…)

January 29, 2013

PPSMI: Parents to rally outside Muhyiddin’s office

Lisa J. Ariffin

Four groups plan to submit memorandum to Muhyiddin on their concerns over the Malaysia Education Blueprint.

Four parent groups plan to submit a memorandum addressing their concerns over the Malaysia Education Blueprint to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during a rally outside his Ministry of Education (MoF) next month.

They want Muhyiddin, the Education Minister, to retain the PPSMI (teaching of Science and Maths in English) as an option, re-introduce English medium schools, and appoint a non-political figure as head of MoF. (more…)

Embargo education blueprint until after GE, urge parents

Koh Jun Lin

Several parent groups are urging the government to embargo the final version of the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 until after the general election so that it would not be politicised.

They feared that if the blueprint becomes an electoral issue, it would lead to knee-jerk reactions that would ultimately undermine the education system. The report is expected to be tabled in a cabinet meeting on this coming Wednesday.

“If (Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak) believes that education should not be politicised, then show us. Do not make it part of your election manifesto. (more…)

December 15, 2012

Just teach them in English!

Azly Rahman

It is an attempt to self-fulfil a prophecy that the rural children, especially the Malays, cannot be challenged and must continue to be given easy passes through social promotion.The refusal to teach Mathematics and Science in English is not just an ideological position but an idiotic one as well.

The refusal to acknowledge that English is currently a language of scientific progress, more than Bahasa Melayu, is an example of hypocrisy in dealing with success on the part of our policymakers and Malay language nationalists.

Based on spurious research findings headed by a teacher training university, sanctioned by other public universities, the government has erred in its decision that will not only impact the future of Malaysian children in a continually globalised world, where English is the lingua franca. (more…)

September 20, 2012

Premature to abolish remove classes?

Lim Mun Fah

 I was a remove class student. The objective of remove class in the 1960s was very clear, namely to train students from non-English primary schools, including Sekolah Kebangsaan, as well as Chinese and Tamil schools, who did not even know how to say “May I go to toilet”, through a year of intensive course so that they could master basic conversation in English and understand English textbooks.

I can still remember that we spent nearly half the time in learning English that year. From conversation to grammar, from giggling only in early of the year to saying “yes” or “no” in the middle of the year and conversing in simple English sentences in the end of the year, it was the most important part of my secondary school life. (more…)

September 19, 2012

Two popular request ignored in the Education Blueprint 2013-2025

Toh Boo Huat

The just released Education Blueprint was touted to be very comprehensive as it took into account the views and desires of Malaysians who were given opportunities to provide input during dialogues held in major towns across the country.

However, if the responses and loud cheers from large section of the crowd during the dialogues are any indication of popular support and demands by the people, then two such requests are missing in the blueprint i.e. calls for Science and Mathematics be taught in English and, for a non-politician Education Minister. (more…)

September 12, 2012

Is abolishing PPSMI not the answer?

Imran Mustafa

(Full Downloadable  Education Blueprint link inside) We read with interest the article entitled “Abolishing PPSMI is not the answer” by Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim (September 10, 2012), in particular, the fallacious arguments made in the name of science policy.Before going into the details of the argument, it is best to remind oneself what the term “PPSMI” means “Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris” or “The Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English”. What this obviously implies is that everyone, regardless of background or first language, is, have been and will always be obligated to learn the two subjects, science and mathematics, in English. (more…)

August 14, 2012

Bahasa Malaysia under siege?

Patrick Lee

The English language, some local writers say, is not a threat to Bahasa Malaysia, but the lazy borrowing of words to replace others certainly is.

Sukses, transformasi, ekspektasi, uniti, efisyen, efektif, frustasi, rasis, kualiti, francais, respon.

Borrowed from the English language, some of these words have been absorbed into the Malay lexicon. Others have been merely embraced as street slang.

Their rapid usage in recent times, however, has left some local writers shaking their heads at what appears to be an easy way out in adding to the Malay vocabulary. (more…)

November 8, 2011

PPSMI: Malaysia in the lost world?

Kim Quek

For that reason, Muhyiddin’s decision to stop PPSMI is unwise. His watered-down decision to phase out PPSMI completely by 2016 for primary schools and 2021 for secondary schools for the small number of remaining schools still sticking to PPSMI is even more inexplicable.  

Following the announcement by education minister Muhyiddin Yassin to stop the teaching of science and mathematics in English from 2012, Malaysia is once again embroiled in a messy controversy, this time cutting across political and racial divisions.

It is messy because the ideas are aplenty and issues are floating around without proper focus.

Sadly, both the proponent and opponent of PPSMI (the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English) are wrong in their vocal rationale. (more…)

November 6, 2011

PKR MP moots English-medium schools

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Yow Hong Chieh

The education system should make room for English-medium schools just as it has for Mandarin and Tamil schools, Selayang MP William Leong said today.

The PKR lawmaker said it was not enough to “grasp at half measures” by insisting that Science and Maths be taught in English (PPSMI) as this would not ensure mastery of the global lingua franca by students.

“We have been deprived and oppressed for so long that we are grasping at the half measures for our children to be taught English by the inadequate substitute of going through mathematics and science.

“Language is not learnt through mathematical and scientific formulas. We must not shortchange our children,” Leong (picture) said in a statement today. (more…)

Never too late to reintroduce PPSMI

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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The former premier says science is a dynamic subject and it was better to teach the subject in the English language.

It is never too late if the government wants to reintroduce the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) in primary schools, although it has decided to fully use Bahasa Malaysia in 2016, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Labelling science subject as dynamic and moving all the time, the former prime minister stressed that it was better to teach the subject in the English language.

“You cannot keep up on science unless you understand the language in which the knowledge is coming to us. Every day there are new findings, discoveries, new theories. All these are not recorded in our language but in English. (more…)

Education is about having a choice

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Kua Kia Soong

In the raging controversy over the continuance of the PPSMI (Teaching of Science and Maths in English) option, there seems to be at least two main arguments put forward for not allowing it, namely, (i) it is too troublesome to have two options in the same school; and (ii) English is not the mother tongue of Malaysians.

I believe that choice and flexibility must be a fundamental principle in education policy and that we should take a historical perspective of the development of our present situation.

First, we should be thankful that the right to mother-tongue education and the fact that every child learns best in the mother tongue is a principle that has been established in Unesco and is now widely accepted in our country. (more…)

November 5, 2011

Muhyiddin ‘flip-flop’ in PPSMI issue,



Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has defended the government’s action concerning the policy on the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English, or PPSMI, stressing that there was no “flip-flop” on the matter.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said the decision to scrap the policy was made after a careful study.”All Members of Parliament, including those from the opposition, supported when we decided to implement the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia, Strengthening the Command of English policy, or MBMMBI, which replaces the PPSMI,” he told reporters after handing over sacrificial cows in conjunction with the Aidiladha celebration at Sri Pekembar Hall in Muar, Johore, today.

He said a study by the ministry showed that only between five and seven percent of schools under the ministry were using English when the PPSMI policy was in force from 2003, while the rest either used mixed language or Bahasa Malaysia in full. (more…)

Overrule Muhyiddin, Dr M tells Najib

Syed Jaymal Zahiid

Peeved with Muhyiddin’s decision to abort his brainchild, the former premier tells Najib to hit the brakes on his deputy’s plan.

In a fresh twist to the PPSMI saga, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked the former to overturn his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin’s plan to scrap the policy.

He said maintaining PPSMI, which was Mahathir’s brainchild, is good for the country’s future and urged Najib to stop Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, from substituting the policy with the national language instead of English.

“The idea of going back to Bahasa (Malaysia) in (to teach) Mathematics and Science will make us all very backward. (more…)

November 4, 2011

Nail in the coffin for PPSMI, says Muhyiddin

Nigel Aw

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today the decision to discontinue the teaching of mathematics and science in English (PPSMI) policy is final.

So, calls for the programme to be retained are two years too late, said Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister.

“In 2009, (when the abolition of PPSMI was announced) there was no negative reaction. The majority accepted it well.

“I presented it in the cabinet, everyone agreed, I brought it to Parliament and everyone, including the opposition at that time, agreed.

“But now, because there are some groups opposed to it, they (the opposition) want to jump on the bandwagon.” (more…)

Page: Malays lose most from scrapping of PPSMI

Patrick Lee

The parents group fears that rural children will end up speaking only Malay.

Rural students are the biggest losers from the government’s decision to stop the teaching of science and mathematics in English, according to the Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE).

PAGE chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said rural students, especially Malays, would end up speaking only Malay because they would have no context in which to apply English.

She questioned the wisdom of the decision, saying Malaysia was going against the tide when “countries all over the world are pushing for English”. She said she was now convinced that Barisan Nasional was not the right party to govern the nation. (more…)

Decision on PPSMI final, says DPM

Teoh El Sen

The matter is closed. PPSMI is not here anymore, says Muhyiddin Yassin.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today that the government’s decision to abolish the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) is final.

“The matter is closed. I can say that as of this year, PPSMI is not here anymore; we have started a new policy. Maybe people have misunderstood, we’re now actually looking at the beginning of the soft-landing of the MBMMBI (Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the English Language) policy,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after attending the English Language training mentor programme where Primary Year 1, 2, 3 English teachers are being trained by foreign native English-speaking teachers.

“It’s final. Period,” Muhyiddin said, adding that he would be explaining this in more detail tomorrow to finally put the matter to rest. “As far as the government is concerned, we want to put this issue to rest.” (more…)

November 2, 2011

Anti-PPSMI: It’s about quality, not language

Anti-PPSMI: It's about quality, not language

Feizrul Nor Nurbi

A question to start off today’s discussion:

“Will teaching Mathematics and Science using English as the medium of instruction at school-level, significantly improves the quality of learning experience leading to the improvement in the proficiency of learners in those two subjects?”

Here are a few reasons why I decline to answer in the affirmative to this question.

Firstly, there is the issue quality. To answer with a yes, a proponent will agree that teaching school-goers M&S in English will improve the student’s understanding in the two subjects. The reason cited, among others, is the abundance of references available in English. (more…)

November 1, 2011

Our school children are sacrificial lambs

Lim Teck Ghee

Over the past year three controversies have arisen from regressive policy decisions of the Education Ministry, which have set our educational system backwards.

These revolve around:

1.    The teaching of science and mathematics in Malay instead of English for students in Form 4

2.    The use of ‘Interlok’ as a compulsory textbook in schools.

3.    The decision to make history a compulsory subject as well as a pass requirement for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate (more…)

October 31, 2011

PAGE hands over memo on English to PM

PAGE hands over memo on English to PM

The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) delivered its memorandum on the language issue to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here on Monday with the hope “he is listening to the people.”

“We want the memorandum to reach the hands of the PM before he leaves for Mecca for the Hajj.

“The PM says he is listening to the Rakyat, so I hope he listens to us,” Page chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim told reporters after handing over the memorandum at the PM’s Office.

Around a dozen Page members accompanied Noor Azimah to hand over the memorandum to request that the government allow the option for the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).

Noor Azimah added that she handed over graphs and figures showing the percentage of parents and students supporting PPSMI and exam results that warranted the continued use of English. (more…)

PAGE warns BN of polls backlash from PPSMI snub

Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

Children stand next to a PAGE poster, during the group’s launch event in Petaling Jaya, March 7, 2010. — File pic

Barisan Nasional (BN) risks losing votes in upcoming polls if it continues barring students from learning science and maths using English in schools, a parents lobby group said today.

The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) wants the 10-year-old policy of teaching science and maths in English at national schools (PPSMI) to be made an option for students in primary and secondary schools.

“If it is political (decision on PPSMI) give us the PPSMI option in national primary and secondary schools, and we will give you the two-thirds majority, which you are making increasingly difficult for us to do. (more…)

October 30, 2011

Data shows better Maths, Science results during PPSMI


The Parent Action Group for Education (Page), who are at the forefront in the struggle to have Maths and Science taught in English, today said that research findings found that the performance of students in the subjects of English, Mathematics and Science improved when the latter two subjects were taught in English.

Quoting research by the 2010 update report for the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals for Malaysia, Page said that results show that the policy was starting to work when the decision to abolish it was made.

The results also showed an improvement in performance in mathematics and science in rural schools.

“PPSMI is working, even for the rural students… (The examination results) show improvement in English, no reduction in Bahasa Malaysia and improvements in Science and Mathematics in the last few years,” Page said, referring to the policy by its Malay language acronym. (more…)

October 23, 2011

Yes to PPSMI: ‘Don’t play political games’

Filed under: Education — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Tarani Palani

Concerned parents, who say that they are important stakeholders, urge the government not to abolish PPSMI for the sake of the country’s progress.

About 150 concerned parents and students gathered here today to voice their support for the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy and urged the government not to “play political games” with the education system.

The hour-long “open-air meeting”, which took place at the park opposite Amcorp Mall, saw parents and students making short speeches arguing for the PPSMI policy to be retained.

They said that abolishing it would affect the progress and competitiveness of the country globally. (more…)

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