Thursday, June 11, 2009

Compulsory pass in English for SPM Certificate

A compulsory pass in English was a pre-requisite before getting a full certificate in SPM. In my school days, you must get a credit in English before you can get Grade 1. When you fail your English, you fail your senior Cambridge ‘O’ level exam. There is no argument and you have no choice. In those days, we have to study English grammar.

When Bahasa Melayu was made Bahasa Malaysia and it became the official language of the country, the pendulum swung to the other end where English was neglected. You are viewed with suspicion if you speak English. The focus was on Bahasa Malaysia to the total neglect of the English language. By the late 80s, the standard of English dropped dramatically. The ultra-nationalists make it fashionable that a true Malaysian need only know how to speak Bahasa Malaysia and mother tongue. English suddenly became a foreign language. Today, even a university graduate cannot string a proper sentence in English. Hence, we say they speak England and not English.

English is an international language. It is a language of Law, Commerce, IT, Science and Technology. Hence, studying English can help rather than hinder a person’s competitiveness. Even in China and Japan, the focus by the government is the study of the English language. Malaysians cannot be a monolingual race whereby the Malays speak Bahasa Melayu, Chinese in Mandarin and Indians speak Tamil while we are poor in other languages. As a trading nation that is very dependent on export market, this will be a disaster. Language is a tool for communication and interaction. It is through this tool that we establish a better understanding and relationship.

Having a pass in English for the SPM certificate is an excellent idea. Of course there are problems in its implementation. There is this urban and rural divide problem, the lack of English teachers and the lack of relevant English teaching materials. However, we have to make a start somewhere. If we let this problem hinder us from making a decision, then we will be too late. Progress in the world like time and tide waits for no man including Malaysians. We can spend our time arguing while the world progresses.

Implement it and resolve the bottleneck as we progress along. In the early stages, we do not raise the standards of the English since we are aware of the many bottlenecks and handicaps confronting the students. After 3-5 years of implementation, we gradually raise the standards of English so that we are at par with Singapore as the benchmark. We don’t want Malaysia graduates to speak Tarzan English. Often, because of poor language command, a young graduate or young professional become reclusive and shy away from interaction and expressing their opinion. This will not do the nation proud if we want to be competitive. Personally, I will convey this idea of implementing a pass in English for SPM to Tan Sri Muhyiddin and gradually increasing the standards of English so that those handicapped by the lack of teachers and the teaching infrastructure will not be penalized.






lauchaiming said...

Hi Dr. Chua,

I agree that English should be made a must pass subject.

A lot would complain that the rural area students will have problem. But after attended 11 years of school and learning English, if still fail, where is the problem then?

Lack of teachers or good English teachers, we can try to solve by calling back retired teachers on contract to help rebuild the standards. I'm sure these retired teachers are more happy to get involved.

I also suggest to make B. Malaysia a compulsory credit. Its also time for us to master our own national language. How shame to see some students cant even sing Negaraku.

MYblog said...

If I remember correctly, English was a compulsory subject for MCE (Malaysian Certificate of Education)/GCE exam till the mid seventies.

We never had this problem of English being spoken as England, this is a problem created by the so called "clever" politicians who forsake the interest of the nation for political returns. Remind me who was the "clever" Education Minister then that decided that English should not be compulsory, was it Mahathir? the great advocate of English today.

You know Dr. Chua, it pisses me off to see us discussing problems created by politicians, and mostly self serving politicians. Can you guess how long it will take to correct this populist mistake of public policy, probably decades if we succeed, maybe never.

We are always throwing good things into the river in the name of nationalism etc which is actually a very clever device to camouflage the business of populist politics.

What a shame and I notice that I have used the word "clever" 3 times in my comment for something which was really a moronic and terrible mistake. For other issues, look at the staffing in Government offices, promotions etc. what do these advocate?

When will our politicians think of Malaysia and its long term stability and advancement rather than focusing on short term petty self fulfilling returns. Very short sighted indeed, maybe soon enough we will start the rehabilitation and social life can be as it used to be when all races lived in brotherhood and harmony.

Goh Wei Liang said...

Very good piece Datuk Seri. I hope the Government sees the idea as a good one and MCA should place themselves in the frontline also to implement this properly.

To make Malaysia competitive and global, English is indeed the most important thing.

Cheers to you Sir.

Bangsa Cina Malaysia said...

close down all karaoke and places selling beer and liquor immediately.

top chinese executives from all companies under the pretext of entertaining customer after work
are wasting their time and increasing the companys expenses.

on top of this nonsense hanky panky
are aplenty.

the govt should ban all this nonsense immediately and urged all
executives and above to go back to their respective families after work.

i am chinese and i support PAS 100%
on banning of alcohol.

alcohol is nothing but trouble.

marriages are crumbling becoz of this nonsense

i am very sure all the chinese housewives and whatever will
support 100% PAS good intention.

Unknown said...

if we already implemented teaching science and math in english WHY not compulsory pass in english for SPM certificate?


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


A language is often merely a tool
Except when in the hands of a fool
So let's treat it proper and cool
Even when we need it warm as wool

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 110609
Thur. 11th June 2009.

Pearls said...

Bangsa Cina Malaysia aka Ultraman wannabe aka harmtarn chiew yan...

You dont be mad la! The reason for moral decay is not so much of the availability of "temptations". Moral decay happens when parents fail to do their parental job properly!! Some people simply SUCK as parents. So, dont go round saying should ban this and that to safeguard moral. If so, than go shift to the mountains and stay!!

As for this English story, sigh.. to begin with, the teachers we have nowadays are obnoxiously atrocious! This range from skills, knowledge to attitude. "so, how to make terror ah"?? Sigh..

All these talks by Muhyiddin to Ah Bengs by the road about English is nothing but... TALK! If the Education Minister is dead serious about improving the standards of English here, he should know that the only feasible way is to "import" good english teachers in and get going! Rural students can have intensive dose of English at the expense of the government. If our govt can allow such big losses in PKFZ, why not this?

Of course this will not be a permanent solution hence, he will need to make arrangements for our "setengah masak" teachers to go for intensive training at some England teachers' training college. Hopefully, majority of these "setengah masak" teachers will be able to pass with flying colors, come back and take over the teaching task.

This will also solve all mumbo jumbo excuses about rural students and their inability to master the language. (Who was that idiot that gave such stupid excuse anyway??)

So, are we serious about improving or uplifting the standards in English in school? If our government can be so efficient with NS (from suggestion to implementation to actually running those camps in a jiffy few months) I dont see why the same government need to berlenggah lenggok about this matter. "No rush over decision on English" it says on STAR today... Sigh.. MA SI TALK NIA LOR...

Unknown said...

You have my 100% support on this matter Dato' Seri.

Malaysia Classifieds said...

Is it true that some "clever politicians" who want to down play English, would actually "cleverly" send their own kids to overseas English medium school/college/university?

If this is true, what an irony? Think about it.

How can our nation develop with short sightedness?

We sincerely pray and hope for better things to come and it starts with leaders who have the foresight anchored on universal (core) values.

Lets do things rationally for long term and unselfishly for the greater good of mankind.

With great concern for our future generations,
Process Architect

Malaysia Classifieds

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