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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 10th July 2009: 

Cabinet next week should undo its unprofessional, political and disastrous PPSMI decision with four-point remedy in line with national aspirations to be internationally competitive to become high-income nation

Six years ago, the Cabinet under Tun Mahathir took a hasty and ill-considered decision to rush headlong to implement the PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik – teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English) from Std One for all primary schools, totally without proper or adequate preparation making five million Malaysian school children in the primary schools guinea pigs of BN politicians in the past six years.

Today, the Cabinet under Datuk Seri Najib Razak in trying to undo the failures and disasters of the ill-considered Cabinet decision six years ago after wasting RM4 billion of public funds, is again committing the folly of another ill-considered decision that will victimize millions of Malaysian students by making them “guinea pigs” of BN politicians for a second time in their 11-year primary and secondary education.

It is shocking beyond belief that Cabinet Ministers and Education Ministry officials could be so irresponsible and unprofessional as to turn million of students into “guinea pigs” for their half-baked educational experiments twice in a decade.

Students in Form 1 this year will continue to be taught maths and science in English until Form 3 in 2011, having spent the past six years in primary school with English as the medium of instruction for these two subjects under PPSMI.

However, when they come to Form 4 in 2012, they will become “guinea pigs” a second time, when medium of instruction for these two subjects are switched back to Bahasa Malaysia in line with the Cabinet decision on Wednesday – continuing into Form 5.

In 2013, when they sit for SPM, they will have to cope with mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia although they were taught the two subjects in English medium for the first nine of the 11 years of their primary and secondary education.

It is not only this batch of students who will be victimized and made second-time guinea pigs by the BN Ministers and politicians, but an entire generation of school-going children from 2003 to 2013 and beyond!

To say the least, such thoughtless and careless attitude is a most irresponsible and crazy way to run the education system of a country.

MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said MCA is of the view that the use of English as medium of instruction for Forms 4 or 5 should be maintained even after 2012 – but the question is why the four MCA Ministers and the Gerakan and MIC Ministers failed to ensure that this is part of the Cabinet decision last Wednesday?

This is another example of the failure of MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers to speak up loud and clear and ensure that the Cabinet does only what is right and good for the people and nation and not just to serve certain political objectives.

Former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah and the Deputy Education Minister Dr. Mohd Puad Zarkashi have openly admitted that the RM4 billion PPMSI experiment in the past six years had been “a failure”.

If the RM4 billion PPMSI in the past six years had been a failure, what is the rationale and justification for the Cabinet decision to defer its abolition until three years later in 2012 instead of immediate implementation next year?

The Cabinet decision on PPSMI on Wednesday is unprofessional and more politically motivated than based on the educational interests of the students and the national needs to create the conditions for an internationally competitive Malaysia which is capable of fully exploiting the human and natural resources of the country to become a high-income nation.

The Cabinet next week should urgently revisit its unprofessional, political and disastrous decision last Wednesday to undo its disastrous PPSMI decision with a four-point remedy in line with national aspirations to be internationally competitive to become a high-income nation, viz:

1. As the Education Ministry has admitted that the PPSMI from Std. One is a RM4 billion six-year failure, confirming the DAP stand since 2002 that PPSMI should not be introduced at Std. One as a “One Size Fits All” solution for all schools, but only at higher standards, the abolition of the PPSMI from Std. One for all schools should take immediate effect from next year and not be deferred until 2012. Why should a policy admitted as a “failure” be continued for another three years?

2. Flexibility in dealing with the problems of the different-medium primary schools with the objectives of raising the standards of proficiency in English, mathematics and science while maintaining Bahasa Malaysia as a compulsory subject.

National, Chinese and Tamil primary schools should be given room to strengthen the proficiency of their students in the three subjects or all of them where they are weak - for instance allowing Chinese primary school students who are all along strong in maths and science to focus on English proficiency while national and Tamil primary school students have special programmes to uplift their proficiency in all these three subjects.

In keeping with a flexible approach which is not tied down to a “One Size Fits All”, there should be choice for parents to pick the type of education they want for their children – including having classes or schools using English as medium for instruction for mathematics and science. Six years ago, Mahathir broached the idea of the possibility of the government re-introduction of the English-medium school system to arrest the decline of the standard of English. This proposal should be seriously revisited by the Cabinet, Parliament and the Malaysian public.

3. The Cabinet decision to fully revert back to Bahasa Malaysia as medium of instruction for maths and science for Forms 1 and 4 in 2012 should be modified so as not to make Malaysian schoolchildren guinea-pigs not once but twice in half-baked educational experiments – allowing the PPSMI in secondary forms or giving choice to parents and schools to teach these subjects in the English medium.

4. Set up a mechanism, whether Cabinet or parliamentary committee to make proposals as to how the educational system could become more flexible, liberal and innovative to allow parents the choice to decide on the medium of instruction for their children in maths and science, both primary and secondary, in line with the national aspirations to be internationally competitive to become a high-income nation.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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