PPSMI: The devil is in the details

PPSMI: The devil is in the details

Devil is not in the policy of teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), but is in the details of its implementation.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement of reviving PPSMI has been received with mixed feelings.

While the pragmatic oriented educationists have welcomed the move, but at the same time, they are also aware of its implementation issues.

However, the opposition is dead against the revival of PPSMI simply on the grounds of nationalism, because such policy might reduce the importance of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and the main medium of communication in multi-racial Malaysia.

There others who think that the introduction of the PPSMI might contradict with the widely held notion that science and mathematics must be taught in the respective mother tongues of the various ethnic communities in Malaysia.

Mahathir might be right in saying that too much nationalism and ethnic bickering might delay the younger generation from coming to terms to the scientific and technological global challenges.

Actually, it is not so much about the PPSMi policy itself, but why the policy was mooted in 2003 and abandoned ten years later.

The compromise through the the adoption of the Dual Language Programme (DLP), though well-intended, was fraught with practical difficulties such as lack of competency among teachers in English to outright opposition from the vernacular and national schools.

The general public are not against well-thought out educational policies, but what is not understandable as to why these are not consistently pursued over time.

Why was PPSMI introduced in 2003 to be abandoned later as a result of the opposition from many quarters.

Even the DLP, which is a compromise solution, could not be sustained.

Mahathir might be right in coming with this policy, something that needs to be rethought and planned carefully in terms of its implementation.

But what guarantee is there that this policy will be adhered and implemented later, if Mahathir is not around as the prime minister any more.

In Malaysia, given the extreme and religious tensions, the possibility of rendering good and sound policies null and void are real and what is more in the realm of education.

Mahathir’s announcement of PPSMI might be a start but the devil is in the details of its implementation.

P Ramasamy is the deputy chief minister II of Penang

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online