KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — The government’s plan to add an extra hour to Bahasa Malaysia classes a week is unlikely to go far in helping non-native students boost their command of the national language, DAP’s Teo Nie Ching said today.
Instead, the government should look at ways to improve its teaching, the opposition lawmaker suggested in response to the Education Ministry’s bid to boost mastery of the language.
“Though the intention of the government might seem ‘noble’, it is questionable if extra BM classes will indeed be the right approach and ultimate solution,” the Kulai MP said.
“If teaching hour(s) is the determining factor of a student’s proficiency in languages, (the) Education Minister must first explain why vernacular schools have less English classes but Chinese and Indian students perform better in SPM English,” she added in her statement.
Teo, who is also the DAP’s assistant national publicity secretary, questioned the logic behind the move to extend teaching hours for Bahasa Malaysia to 240 minutes a week from the previous weekly requirement of 180 minutes or three hours in vernacular schools.
In contrast, national schools at present teach English for 300 minutes a week compared with vernacular schools, which had their lesson time halved but whose students showed better scores in examinations, she said.
She noted the results of the 2010 SPM examinations showed that only 23 per cent of Bumiputera or native students scored a level equivalent to a Cambridge 1119 credit or higher, as opposed to 42 per cent of Chinese and 35 per cent of Indian students.
Comparatively, 84 per cent of Bumiputera students achieved a minimum credit for Bahasa Malaysia in the same year, while 63 per cent of Chinese students and 57 per cent of Indian students managed the same score.
Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced yesterday the extension of teaching hours for Bahasa Malaysia when unveiling Putrajaya’s Education Development Master Plan 2013-2025, claiming that even the United Chinese School Committees Association — better known as Dong Zong — agreed to it.
Dong Zong denied they had ever agreed to the plan.
Teo argued that merely extending teaching hours did not guarantee that students would be able to improve on their command of the language.
Taking the example of students’ performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in Singapore and Hong Kong, she said the students benefited not from long teaching hours but instead from the quality of teachers and the syllabus.
“Teacher quality and content of syllabus are the more significant school-based factors in determining student outcome,” she said. “As such, we urge Muhyiddin Yassin to review his decision to raise BM lessons to 240 minutes per week in vernacular schools.”
- Teaching & Learning