Make all rural schools English ready by 2014, says Perkasa

The Malay Mail Online
Make all rural schools English ready by 2014, says Perkasa
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Make all rural schools English ready by 2014, says Perkasa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — To ensure no Bumiputera student is left behind, Malay rights group Perkasa wants the Education Ministry to equip all rural schools with English-trained teachers and reading materials by next year now that the language is a must-pass subject for national examinations.

Echoing the sentiments of the Malay Consultative Council (MPM), Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said they agreed with the government's decision to make it a compulsory passing subject as English is the world's tongue and the language of knowledge.

“To ensure Bumiputera students in rural areas are not left behind, the Education Ministry must make sure every rural school has sufficient trained teachers in English, English books and reading materials to help the students.

"All needs must be met starting 2014 even though it is compulsory only from year 2016," the former Independent federal lawmaker told The Malay Mail Online.

Yesterday, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced English as a mandatory passing subject in the national SPM examination for Fifth Formers in an apparent nod to education lobbyists who have been pushing for its return to schools to boost the learning standard.

Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, had also said the number of lesson hours for English would be increased, to ensure the plan works.

The teaching of science and mathematics in English -- better known by its Malay initials of PPSMI -- had been introduced in national schools as an option around 2003 by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in an effort to turn the country's economy from manufacturing-based to knowledge-centric.

The education policy was later reversed in 2010.

The Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE), a leading advocate for PPSMI, however felt that making English a mandatory passing subject suddenly would leave rural students out in the cold, and expressed concern the latest policy change would put more emphasis on exam results instead of actual learning.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has also voiced caution in making English a must-pass, saying it should only be carried out when all schools were on an equal footing.

Conversely, MPM - which had been against the revival of PPSMI - welcomed the plan.

The coalition of some 200 Malay organisations, including businesses and education groups, said the policy was in tandem with the government’s goal of strengthening students’ command of Bahasa Malaysia, the national language.

Perkasa's Ibrahim however, added a caveat.

He said that while his group agreed with the policy in principle, the teaching and learning of English must not be placed above that of the national language.

“It must be stressed at all times that Bahasa Melayu is the main language, the national language that must be put forward without compromise and that BI is a secondary language for international communication,” he said referring to the Malay initials for the English language.

“The country’s identity is Bahasa Melayu and the country’s native mother tongue, which should be at the core of national unity.”

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