Friday 31 July 2015

Oh My English!

It’s all splashed in the STAR cover page today (22nd July 2015) aptly titled “We must mind our English’. Several Science and Math workbooks for students preparing for public exams are littered with bad grammar. The workbooks were also plagued by jumbled tenses and wrong prepositions, raising questions about quality checks done on these publications.

There has been growing, urgent calls by various quarters to make proficiency in English a top national priority. The top corporate citizens talk about it. The Royals voice concerns too while the teachers and the parents almost lost voices from talking about it.

Long before Mr. Middleton of ‘Oh My English!” fame, there was Mr. Brown and his motley crew of foreign students learning English as a second language in ‘Mind Your Language’. 

What are these programs? They are all actually mocks of our own poor grasp of English language. Is it just English? Oh no, Math and Science too! But how serious is the problem? Put Malaysian FIFA ranking aside, 52nd out of 65 countries in the recent PISA ranking is seriously serious... and where is our good neighbor Singapore in the ranking? Oh gosh! Perhaps ‘Oh My Science!’ and ‘Oh My Math!’ next? 

Are we moving forward or in the reverse gear? What actually goes wrong?
I was a science stream student back in the 80s, not the teachers’ favorite type I must admit. My petite Biology teacher, Cikgu Faridah, whom we called ‘Sheila Majid’ (no prizes for guessing why) even had to do a full teary eye session just to ‘wake us’ up. And unexpectedly 80% of the class got credits in her subject for SPM. She took pride in her teaching career having switched from her medic education background. Is it the quality of the teachers then?

The teachers of today can’t do public canning, physical punishments, and they can’t even ‘menjeling’ to the students. They have to be ‘Mesra Pelajar’ all the time. One of my wife’s students came late to school for 2 months in a row and later on absent for another 1 month citing ‘cikgu garang’ (I can imagine why). His mother wrote a letter to the Principal citing ‘tidak boleh bangun pagi’ as the reason.  He was subsequently dismissed. His parents went to the PPD, appealed, and got him readmitted to the same school with a clean file. What a precedent! ‘Oh My Student!’ next? Is it the school system now of overly protecting the students that their ‘fat goes up’? (naik lemak). 

The teachers are also now overly burdened with a plethora of new programs, exam systems, and what not. They will be burnout over time from stress and anxiety. Has the national education system failed us? I will now just leave the questions opened for ‘politically correct’ reason.

Shared by Hasnan
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