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Following the cabinet decision in 2009 (overturning the cabinet decision in 2002), of policy reversal on PPSMI, announcements are made regarding the implementation which is supposed to start in 2013 but put forward to 2012. I cannot remember much about what was said by the Minister of Education prior to the cabinet reshuffle in 2010 when Najib replaced Bodohwi who was virtually asked to step down on account of the disastrous 12th General Election results that saw the opposition making massive inroads politically.

PPSMI temperature begins to rise as the implementation year nears and the new Minister of Education, the more mature and confident Muhyiddin comes across as the strong “Terminator”. In the face of public outcry for PPSMI, he seemed to be steadfast in the cabinet’s resolve to cease the policy.We are quoted with studies which are said to paint a negative picture on PPSMI and at the same time not many schools are reported to have implemented the policy. We are in the dark as to when these statistics are collected. Whether the number of schools implementing PPSMI decline after the announcement of policy reversal in 2009 or is it before the announcement. Most PPSMI statistics seem to be rather blurry.

The motivation of teachers to continue with PPSMI would have been affected greatly following that cabinet decision in 2009. School text publishers are already getting ready with books in Bahasa Melayu (BM) in anticipation of 2012. And now that there is some breathing space being given to those children who are already into PPSMI for them to continue till form Five and those in primary Three (2012) can opt to be in PPSMI till they complete their form Five in 2021. I am sure many parents who are concerned about their children’s future sigh with great relief at this last minute temporary reprieve.

PAGE (Parent Action Group for Education) and its gutsy President should be commended for their singular resolve to submit that memorandum to PM Najib just before he flew to Mecca late October. Without a doubt his hidden hand must have contributed to the decision to let the current PPSMI cohort of students continue till the final year of their secondary schooling.

The final battle ended with a small concession.

The confusing point presently is when the Ministry of Education is asking individual schools to make the choice whether to opt for PPSMI or to go full steam into BM. This is where the unhappiness is going to set in. As parents are told to transfer their children to those schools which are offering PPSMI if their current schools do not or opt not to offer. There are already grouses on the ground.

For proper planning for support facilities, the Ministry of Education should be the one determining which schools should continue with PPSMI (having consulted the respective state education departments). Otherwise the ministry will be seen as not really sincere in its “magnanimity”. As “your obedient servant” and sensing the sentiment of the combative Minister of Education many teachers might want to please the reluctant Ministry by opting not to continue with PPSMI. This action would render the concession an exercise in futility.

Schools are not to be blamed should there be problems like lack of trained teachers or text books in PPSMI because they are the ones who “choose” to opt for the policy. I don’t think anyone would like to be in the teachers’ shoes on this score. So the parents hope that the Ministry is the one that needs to be the active implementer of this decision and should not “lepas tangan” (let go) as we are talking about the welfare of the children here. In short, the Ministry should be fully responsible for the outcome of this retro step albeit for only the current PPSMI cohort.

In the meantime, independent studies should be planned to analyse the performance of the PPSMI-cohort in the higher education achievement and subsequent global job market (minus government jobs of course) as compared to those in MBM-MBI. Or are we scared of knowing the truth as always?

Muhyiddin Yasin, Minister of Education 2011

So essentially the Minister of Education, Muhyiddin Yasin says the decision to revert to the teaching Maths and Science in BM is cast in stone ( as if it is God-made!) and he is not for “flip-flopping” and that he has the backing of the whole cabinet and the prime Minister himself. He gives all sorts of statistics and studies done by the Ministry itself as opposed to by independent researchers and quotes figures which are hardly meaningful as they lack the intrinsic value for appropriate statistical inferences.

There is no elegant reasoning like the ones given by the Minister of Education back in 2003 in support of PPSMI (search my blog under PPSMI). This year 2011, the Minister of Education (BN) articulates a decision that is intricately linked to political expediency/ misplaced nationalism. External factors influencing educational objectives like globalisation, liberalisation,competitiveness and modern literacy are all but in the back burner.

At the same time, I cannot help but feel the BN government is reversing this policy as a response to the opposition party’s (PAS and PKR) use of PPSMI as a political issue in the next general election. These two parties are against PPSMI and are playing to the Malay gallery!

Like it or not UMNO, the dominant BN partner (having lost its two third majority in the last general election in 2008) is dependent on the Malay votes especially those in the rural areas, in the next 13th general election to be held before 2013.


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