Parents, what do you feel about the reverse in the policy to teach Maths and Science in English?

For me, personally, I am “neutral”. You see, of course I am  unhappy that a policy that is only 6 years old is being reversed. It is an utter waste. Waste of money, time, resources. Even though I would prefer that the subjects be taught in English, on the other hand, I am happy that now my child will have less books to bring to school and now there is more focus. It may sound very simplistic to say this but its true.

You see, my girl studies at a Chinese school. She is required to study Maths and Science in BOTH English and Chinese. A terribly ridiculous situation as far as I am concerned. This is a heavy burden to the students … and I am not only talking about the burden of the added weight of the books to their bags. It is a burden because they have to spend time doing homework and tests in BOTH papers in BOTH languages. It is a burden to their time when there is no focus.

Now, although she is required to study BOTH the subjects in TWO languages, I can see that the educators are half hearted in their attempts to teach it in English. So half hearted that, naturally, at the end of the day, most would almost have no choice but to CHOOSE to do the exams in Chinese. It was reported that most students CHOOSE to do it in Chinese anyway so there is no point doing it in English. Oh really? Hmm….

I would prefer it that the subjects are taught in English because English is our first language at home so it would naturally be easier for my kids to understand the subjects. Perhaps a rather selfish reason but that is a fact. I only choose Chinese school for my kids because I do not think there are any better options. They say that if you do not do Maths and Science in the mother tongue than you can not truly appreciate your mother tongue or learn it fully in all its beauty and totality and this applies to all mother tongues, not only Chinese. Hmmm…. Really? I think the mother tongue is a beautiful language, any mother tongue that is and it can be appreciated in the study of the language itself. Maths and Science need not necessarily be added into the equation for you to truly appreciate and understand a language.

So, though I would prefer that it be taught in English, I am relieved. Relieved that this farce is finally over. If they have to study the subjects in the mother tongue so be it. At least there is more focus now. I chose for my kids to study in a Chinese school so even if the subjects were taught in Chinese I can’t complain even though I would prefer it to be taught in English. I believe that those subjects being taught in English would not take away the study of Chinese as a language. My kids study in a Chinese school because I want them to know some Chinese so even if Maths and Science were taught in English, I would have achieved my objective.

However I must add that the standard or level of English taught at my girl’s school is rather pathetic so English would go down the drain if Maths and Science in English were taken away. So I have to spend more time teaching them in English to make sure their standard of English do not deteriorate. Now, I have to be the one to educate and teach my children in English so that their standard of English will not drop. I cannot afford to leave it to the school to teach. Crazy isn’t it?

I read that some parents are so unhappy over the decision they now want to pull their child out into international schools or send them to schools elsewhere. To me, that is rather drastic. What about the child? Wouldn’t this be unsettling to them? International schools or private schools need not necessarily be better. There will be other issues and challenges you have to face. Besides, this option is only available to a handful who can afford it so such talk is irrelavant to me.

We can’t depend on the schools to teach English anymore. You either teach them yourself, send them for extra tuition (and extra burden) or send them to international schools. So what else is new? We’re in a sad state.

Though my preference is English, as I’ve mentioned a few times, at the end of the day, I do not really care either way. All I care about is a good environment, with dedicated teachers who are experienced and trained and believe in what they are doing. So, to me, the language issue is secondary.  I also do not want my child to be unnecessarily burdened by the study of TWO subjects in TWO languages. I suppose you could say that I am pass caring. I do not care either way because I do not have faith in the system.

I think the policy failed because choices were given. If no choice were given like in those days when everything reverted to BM, then it would not fail. You cannot please everyone, so if you think that a certain subject should be taught in a certain language, then stick to that language and that alone.

Looking at the level of English taught at my girl’s school, I think that yes, English would definitely suffer if the two subjects were no longer taught. I think it would have been really good to let the kids improve their level of English by having the two subjects taught in English and English alone. No arguments about it, you cannot please everyone. Then and only then would the objective of improving our childrens’ English be achieved. (The level of English for our local grads are appalling.) As it was, enough time was given for the study of the mother tongue as a language and in other subjects. Not teaching Maths and Science in our mother tongue would not have robbed us of our understanding of the language or our culture. Sadly, I believe that allowing people the right to choose, has contributed to the failure of the policy. However, having said that, I must add that if they had wanted to give us a true choice, then bilingual exam papers should be printed.

So what do you other parents out there think? Now, shoot!

Parents, if you want to voice your opinion on whether you support the decision to teach maths and science in the mother tongue, you can to Dr Mahathir’s blog and participate in this poll.

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