Don’t be left behind

Tuesday July 31, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/31/focus/11716243&sec=focus

WE refer to the letter “Start at primary level” (The Star, July 21). We truly support and appreciate Datin Noor Azimah in championing the implementation, monitoring processes and even the appealing for the learning of Science and Mathematics in English to begin at primary level or even earlier.

As she mentioned, it cannot be denied that political parties and specific target groups had and still have a strong say in decisions made for Malaysian education. I do respect their intention to protect the National Language but they must be realistic and recognise the importance of being fluent in the English Language to be able to COPE and COMPETE with the ever progressing world out there.

We do not want our children to grow up to be second-class citizens and be left behind in so many scientific fields.

We cannot close our eyes any more and tell ourselves that we can compete internationally if our English Language proficiency is below par.

As a former educator, I strongly believe that is the main reason why there are less students registering for Mathematics and Science streams in schools.

I can still remember attending a meeting as part of a contingent of teachers at the Legends Hotel in the 1980s with a panel of the Wilayah Persekutuan Education Ministry officials. They supposedly wanted our views on an effective way of the teaching of the English Language but whatever we proposed as well as gave our views as senior teachers we were somehow shot down.

When we asked for an explanation, they just told us that we must not question them as it was a political issue.

After that, feeling that it was a pure waste of our time and effort to attend with our busy teaching schedule, we just got up and walked out. Are most of the outcomes of these meetings a foregone conclusion?

The specific target groups and the Education Minister must realise by now that there was never a time when the Bahasa Malaysia language was in danger of being sidelined or neglected even when Science and Mathematics were taught in English

Many Asian countries have recognised the importance of being fluent in English to enable their citizens to secure better and higher paid jobs and we Malaysians would not want to be taking a backward step when very often, we hear our Prime Minister talking about “transformation”.

I am sure that most parents and many individuals will not want their children to be in a situation compared to a Katak di bawah tempurung.

We must seriously prepare and arm our younger and future generations to face the many and difficult challenges that they will face in their future.

In cases where the parents do not live long enough to be there to guide and hold their hands when that time comes, at least they are rest assured that their children are equipped with the most important fundemental, that is fluency in the English Language.

On another important issue,as a young individual still in school, I used to enjoy eating with and mixing with my friends of all races and religions without arousing any qualms (worries) or suspicions concerning religions or customs.

We were a happy and united bunch of Malaysians respecting one another’s creed and race. At that time, in the 50s and 60s, we were already practising 1 Malaysia.

Not like what is happening at present where people of different faiths are ridiculing and criticising one another.

Why can’t we just learn to respect one another and live peacefully together.

I would like to thank Noor Azimah for her dedication and efforts.

LENA ABDULLAH / MAG LAI

Petaling Jaya