PETALING JAYA, 6 Mar 2009: Malay Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are divided over the English for Teaching Mathematics and Science (ETeMS) policy.
For example, Pewaris Permuafakatan Islam and the Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) have expressed support for the policy’s continuation, while the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) has called for a review.
Noor Nirwandy “When the angkasawan was training overseas, did he speak in bahasa Negeri (Sembilan)? When our students study medicine in the UK, do they study in bahasa Kelantan?” Rahimuddin Md Harun, Pewaris’s second deputy chairperson, said in a telephone interview.
“If English is the predominant language of academia, then we have to accept this,” he added.
PPIM project director Noor Nirwandy said Malaysia still doesn’t have a “strong body of literature in science and mathematics written in Bahasa Malaysia.”
He noted that the fear of rural students being unable to cope with the learning of subjects in English is real.
“But this only means that the government has to find a way to equip students in rural areas with the capacity to learn and communicate in English,” he told The Nut Graph.
He said although Bahasa Malaysia needs to be respected as the national language, compromises should be made to inculcate a culture of knowledge-seeking among the young.
Abim, however, has said learning science and mathematics would be easier if Bahasa Malaysia was the medium of instruction.
“We have to accept that the implementation of this policy during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration was hasty, without proper and comprehensive research,” Abim secretary-general Khairul Arifin Mohd Munir said on the organisation’s website.
Yesterday, former Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad admitted that there were weaknesses in the policy’s implementation.
Musa, who was the Education Minister when the government began implementing the policy six years ago, said although its intention was good, the policy failed to achieve its objectives.
Several different groups, including literary figures and opposition political parties, have banded together under the Abolish PPSMI (the Malay-language acronym for ETeMS) Coalition, otherwise known by its Malay acronym of GMP.
GMP comprises 50 organisations against the teaching of maths and science in English
GMP is planning to hold a 100,000-strong public rally tomorrow in front of Istana Negara to hand over a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to abolish the policy, even though the police has sternly warned against the gathering.
GMP chairperson Datuk Hassan Ahmad told Malaysiakini on 21 Jan that GMP’s struggle was not merely a Malay struggle.
“If it were like Hindraf, I would not be involved,” he said.
Scaling the language barrier