Dual Language Programme: Points to ponder

LanH, [email protected] | .

THE government’s proposal to launch the Dual Language Programme (DLP) in 300 primary schools in the country was met with fierce resistance from certain quarters especially from the former movement of anti-PPSMI and opposition parties.
 
PAS President, Dato' Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in his speech in Parliament, stressed that the sovereignty of the national language must be upheld as in accordance with Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution; thus in delivering basic knowledge (education) must be in that language. 
 
It was reported there are 148 primary schools and 152 secondary schools participating in the DLP. The DLP is a new issue in Malaysian education world but it is not a policy unlike the PPSMI which began in 2002 by the then Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. He forcefully introduced the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (known by its Malay acronym PPSMI).
 
Then, after fierce resistance by the ‘rakyat’ (people) for several years, in 2009 newly elected Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, announced the abolition of PPSMI, saying the implementation would begin with Year One and Form One pupils in 2012.
 
The ‘quick solution’ by Muhyiddin was said to please the masses after Umno-Barisan Nasional was given a thumbs down in the 2008 general election. Even though the teaching of Science and Mathematics has been reverted back to Malay, it was only up Form Five level whereas before the implementation of PPSMI, the language of instruction at tertiary level was in that language.
 
The anti-DLP movement (new one) would launch a nationwide programme to explain its disadvantages; with the climax of which a demonstration would be held on March 26. they do not agree that English be the main medium for education. 
 
At the tabling of Budget 2016 last year, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that 300 primary schools would come under the DLP pilot project. Under the programme, schools nationwide would be given the option to teach Science, Mathematics, Information and Communications Technology, as well as Design and Technology, in English or Bahasa Malaysia.
 
Once again, our educators are put to tasks: a university lecturer asked: “We are dealing with the future of our coming generation, they are human beings not machines that could be adjusted at any point or time we wish.” 
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She said students were treated as though they were guinea pigs; those bright ones hopefully would overcome this unnecessary mess, but about the weaker ones? Hopefully they would ploughed through, their burden and hardship rewarded.
 
A teacher said: "More than half a century after gaining independence, we are still indecisive regarding the medium of instruction to educate our children, thus hugely affecting the expansion of knowledge through researches to produce relevant references for our children. 
 
"The way I see it all, the teachers for so long have become rigid tools to 'transfer' contents in the textbooks resulting in students who in majority are not improving knowledge-wise. They too become tools to 'transfer' their knowledge onto exam papers. When are we going to wake up from our long sleep?"
 
Another teacher said: “We are actually creating two classes of society by implementing DLP. One who adapted well to it, while the other one, those who were left out. What type of nation we are going to build from this policy?”
 
She claimed that former colonized nations such as India, the Philippines and some African countries that took English as the medium of instruction in schools and universities had not improved much, they had flopped and become worst since their days of independence.
 
The teacher said only about 30 percent of their population had made it into the haves brackets but the rest remained poor, uneducated and left out from the development of their own country.
 
She said, the using of a foreign language in the early stages of education, denied the rights of the children to gain knowledge on the basic requirement of living such as reading, counting and writing.
 
An UNESCO finding including a comprehensive research review carried out for the World Bank in 1997, regarding the usage of language in education; noted the most important conclusion drawn from this research says: "...when learning is a goal, including that of learning a second language, the child's first language (i.e. his or her mother tongue) should be used as the medium of instruction in the early years of schooling.
 
"The first language is essential for the initial teaching of reading, and for comprehension of subject matter. It is the necessary foundation for the cognitive development upon which acquisition of the second language is based." - ES
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