Parents question the credibility of the Government in its decision to abolish PPSMI 

Shamsudin Hamid, Coordinator Concerned Parents Selangor

Representing over 12,000 active members of the Concerned Parents Selangor (CPS), we  participated in the dialogue on the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) held recently at the Sunway Convention Centre. At the end of the session, when participants were invited to present their views; we raised several questions on the rationale for the abolishing of PPSMI, and the reasons why certain matters pertaining to it are left out of the MEB.

It was indeed most disappointing and shocking when the Dialogue Session Chairman by way of an answer gave a terse one sentence reply – “PPSMI  telah digantikan oleh MBMMBI, itu sahaja saya boleh katakan”.

It was as if the issue raised was a taboo subject, and it gives rise to the assumption that government servants especially from the Ministry of Education (MOE) are prohibited from talking about it. The fact that the MEB mentioned PPSMI in only about three sentences, gives credence to this assumption.

After referring to several recent public letters on the issue notably: “Continue PPSMI for greater good of nation” (Star Oct.17), “We need confirmation” (Star Oct.22), “Is the abolition of PPSMI truly justified” (Star Oct.28), “PPSMI advocates disappointed” (Star Nov.6), “Stop politicising teaching of English” (Star Nov.8); and the knowledge of our members’ opinions on the matter, we can only conclude that the MOE have not been transparent in its undertakings.

Worse, we parents believe that the credibility of the MOE is truly questionable when we consider the sequence of events from July 2009 when PPSMI was abolished until today.

This sequence of events are:

1. The decision to abolish PPSMI in July 2009 was made suddenly without prior consultation with  stakeholders or interested parties. It lacked transparency as reported in the UNESCO report. It was also made after demonstrations by ‘Malay language nationalists’ (headed by Samad Said) lion against the use of English in the study of science and mathematics. Hence the true motive behind the decision to suddenly abolish PPSMI is open to question. 

2. On instructions of the MOE, school PIBGs were not allowed to discuss or deliberate on the matter. Schools which persisted in raising the issue were punished. A case in point is the SRK Assunta in Petaling Jaya which for 51 years acted as a feeder school for SMK Assunta. In Nov. 2009, PIBGs of both SRK Assunta 1 and 2 persisted in having EGMs to vote on the matter whereby by secret ballot, 93% of parents voted for the continuation of PPSMI. Consequently, on specific instructions of the Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah (PPD) Petaling, the majority of students were not allowed to go to SMK Assunta after Std. 6 but dispersed to various other schools in the district without parents given time to appeal. It was only after a spontaneous demonstration by affected parents which was covered by NTV7 1pm News on the same day, was the instructions rescinded by the PPD.(

3. More than half a million parents voted for the continuation of PPSMI in online surveys  conducted by PAGE KL and Penang, Che Det’s portal and the MOEs website itself. This fact has never been acknowledged nor taken into consideration in the NEB (Source: News reports and the website portals themselves.)

4. A similar fate befell the thousands of individual letters appealing for the reinstatement of PPSMI sent from all over the country. (http://staronline/news/visuals

5. In Nov.2011, the MOE stated that in September, it had conducted a survey in schools nationwide to determine the efficacy and results of PPSMI. They announced that based on the statistics obtained, PPSMI had failed in its objectives. Only some selective statistics were made public as justification. Alluding to the OSA, the complete survey reports and statistics were not made available for scrutiny by the public. However in September 2012 a series of reports and statistics were published by PAGE (Parents Action Group on Education), which totally disproves the earlier MOE claims of PPSMI having failed. (Sunday Star 23 Sept.PAGE sources: Malaysia Educational Statistics 2009, 2011 and 2012, EPRD, MOE and the Millennium Goals at 2010).

6. The pledges given by the MOE for a ‘soft landing’ to parents who opted that their children continue learning science and mathematics in English, have not been fully fulfilled.

7. Due to demands from parent groups, MOE had beginning late 2011 until early 2012, appointed various private panels and think-tanks to provide views on PPSMI. Amongst others, were the Education Review Panel headed by Tan Sri Dzulkifly Abdul Razak and comprised of eminent personalities from the private sector. The National Education Dialogue Panel headed by Tan Sri Wan Zahid Noordin. It was reported that the consensus arrived by these panels were all generally in favour for the reinstatement of PPSMI in essence. The big question mark here is whether the inputs of these panels were taken into consideration in drafting the MEB.

8. The Korean foreign consultant to the MEB panel who was a former education minister in his  country, perhaps in deference to the DPM had failed to mention one significant fact. Even if he had, it was not mentioned in the MEB or perhaps even deliberately omitted. The fact of the matter is that not long after PPSMI was introduced in Malaysia under the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir, the Korean government invited top educationists from a prominent institute of higher learning here in Malaysia to advise and instruct the Korean MOE on the implementation of PPSMI there. It is still in practice today.

9. There is a parallel national education system under the Ministry of Rural Development whose Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM), offer ‘O’ and ‘A’ level courses under the UK General Certificate of Education (GCE) syllabus; which provides the teaching of Maths and Science in English. MRSM whose student intake is limited to bumiputra students especially from rural areas, is perceived as being discriminatory towards non bumiputra parents whose only wish is to have their children continue learning the said subjects in English. Rightly or wrongly, this perception is real and worse, it has transformed into a general anti government stance by non bumiputra parents especially those from the urban areas.

10. Recently the Hon. Minister of Education announced certain incentives like a tax break, book subsidies and a grant or loan be given to parents whose children opts to study science. Question here is if the whole matter has been well planned in the first place, why was it not mentioned in the MEB. Or was the announcement made to assuage the disquiet of parents who recently raised the issue of the MOE plans to achieve a 60% intake of science stream students in schools.

From the above summary of events, one can only conclude that the MOEs’ credibility in carrying out its responsibilities as the prime mover in transforming the country’s education (and social) landscape, is severely questioned. The fact that the whole education issue has been politicised by certain quarters within the government and without, cannot be denied.

This whole episode simply does not augur well for the openness and the ‘listening to the rakyat’ credo that the government is promoting.