The Complexities of Re-reversal of Language-in-Education Policy in Malaysia
The language-in-education policy journey in Malaysia has been a tumultuous one of reversal and re-reversal; initially a reversal from Bahasa Malaysia to English for Science and Mathematics in 2002, and a re-reversal from English back to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools in 2009, after a period of 6 years. The reasons for the initial reversal have been documented in Gill (2004). This paper will focus on the latter re-reversal from English back to Bahasa Malaysia which was announced recently in 2009 and is to be implemented in 2012. Decisions on language-in-education policy are impacted in varying degrees by various stakeholders – the politicians of the ruling party, linguists and parents. This paper will examine the underlying reasons for the change that led to a repositioning of Bahasa Malaysia as the language of education for Science and Mathematics. These include some “empirical studies” cited by the government which highlighted that the use of English as MOI (“Medium of Instruction”) disadvantaged certain groups of students, the various levels of English competency of the teachers and the students, the lack of time for proper training and implementation of the program, and the failure of ETeMS (English for Teaching Mathematics and Science) to improve English language proficiency among students. As these findings are discussed, the complexities of underlying agendas that underpin decision making on language-in-education policy are raised.
KeywordsLanguage Policy Rural School National Language Rural Child English Language Proficiency
- Abdullah Hassan. 2004. One hundred years of language planning in Malaysia: Looking ahead to the future. Language in India, 4. http://www.languageinindia.com/nov2004/abdulla1.html. Retrieved on 10 November 2011.
- Choong, K.F. 2004. English for the teaching of mathematics and science (ETeMS): From concept to implementation. Retrieved April 2008, from http://eltcm.org/eltc/download/paperbank/PDF/English.
- Clark, C.M. 1992. Teachers as designers in self-directed professional development. In Understanding teacher development, ed. A. Hargreaves and M.G. Fullan, 75–84. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
- Gill, Saran K. 2004. Language policy and planning in higher education in Malaysia: A nation in linguistic transition. In Multilingual approaches in university education: Challenges and practices, vol. 11, ed. C. van Leeuwen and R. Wilkinson, 109–125. Maastricht: Universiteit Maastricht Press.Google Scholar
- Gill, S.K. 2005. Language policy in Malaysia: Reversing direction.Language Policy, 4(3): 241–260.Google Scholar
- Gill, S.K., A. Hazita, R. Norizan, and M. Fadhil. 2003–2005. Ongoing two year research project on language planning and policy in higher education in Malaysia: Responding to the needs of the knowledge economy. Funded by the Malaysian Government.Google Scholar
- Gill, Saran K., M.K. Radha Nambiar, Noraini Ibrahim, and Tan Kim Hua. 2010. Globalization and Language-in-Education policy shift in Malaysia: Challenges of implementation. In Globalization of language and culture in Asia – The impact of globalization processes on language, ed. V. Vaish, 180–205. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Hazri Jamil, January. 2010. Historical overview of Malaysia’s experience in enhancing equity and quality of education: Focusing on management and mediation of multiethnic issues. Paper presented at Africa-Asia Experience Sharing Seminar: Efforts towards Improving the Quality of Education, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
- Isahak Haron, Abdul Latif Hj. Gapor, Md Nasir Masran, Abdul Halim Ibrahim, and Mariam Mohamed Nor. 2008. Kesan dasar pengajaran matematik dan sains dalam bahasa Inggeris di sekolah rendah.(The effects of the teaching of mathematics and science in English in primary schools). Penerbit Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjung Malim, Malaysia.Google Scholar
- Jimadie Shah Othman. March 22, 2009. In Language Issues in Malaysia. Study: Language switch has marginal benefits.Malaysiakini online. http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily2/20090322. Retrieved on 12 December 2009.
- Kamsilawati, K. 2005. Teachers’ perceptions of their level of readiness in teaching mathematics and science in English (ETeMS).Masters of Education thesis. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia.Google Scholar
- Kaplan, R.B., and R.B. Baldauf Jr. 1997. Language planning from practice to theory. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar
- Kim, L.S., S.M. Tan, and K.A. Bakar. 2005. Language and nationhood: Confronting new realities. Speech by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Language and nationhood: New contexts, new realities, pp. vii. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Bangi.Google Scholar
- Lowe, V., and U. Khattab. 2003. Malaysian language planning and cultural rights in the face of a global world. In Cultural rights in a global world, ed. Anura Goonasekera, Cees Hamelink, and Venkat Iyer, 217–222. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.Google Scholar
- Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. 2009. Pengajaran dan pembelajaran sains dan matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI)(Teaching and learning science and mathematics in English).13 March, 2009. Blogging to Unblock Online. http://chedet.cc/blog/?p=221#more-221. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
- Mohd. Ariff Sabri. 2009. The PPSMI Issue. Sakmongkol AK47 online. http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2009/07/ppsmi-issue.html. Retrieved on 12 December 2009.
- Nor Hashimah Jalaluddin. 2003. The acceptance of science and mathematics in English among students and teachers. In The effects of using English as the medium of instruction for mathematics and science in primary school, ed. Isahak Haron, Abdul Latif Hj. Gapor, Md Nasir Masran, Abdul Halim Ibrahim, and Mariam Mohamed Nor, 30–32. Thesis. Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjung Malim, Malaysia.Google Scholar
- PAGE MALAYSIA. 2009. Soft Landing Implications Table. http://www.pagemalaysia.org/images/news/news_softlanding.jpg. Retrieved on 12 August 2009).
- Pandian, A., and R. Ramiah. 2004. Mathematics and science in English. Teacher voice. The English teacher, vol 33, pp. 11. http://www.melta.org.my/ET/2004/2004-50.pdf. Retrieved on 12 December 2009.
- Pennycook, A. 1994. The cultural politics of English as an international language. London: Longman.Google Scholar
- Pillay, H., and M. Thomas. 2004. A nation on the move: From chalkface to laptops. Paper presented at MICELT – Malaysian International Centre for English Language Teaching.Google Scholar
- PKPIM Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students). 2008. Menolak Usaha Meneruskan Pengajaran, Sains, Matematik dan Teknologi dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI) di peringkat sekolah hingga ke IPT. (Denying the efforts of the teaching of Science, Mathematics and Technology in English from Primary School till Higher Learning Institutions). http://www.pkpim.net/v2/info/memorandum/72-menolok-usaha-meneruskan-ppsmi.html. Retrieved on 15 September 2009.
- Rappa, A.L., and L. Wee. 2006. The federation of Malaysia. In Language policy and modernity in Southeast Asia: Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.Chapter 2, pp. 29. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Tsui, A.B.M., and J.W. Tollefson. 2004. The centrality of medium-of-instruction policy in sociopolitical processes. In Medium of instruction policies: Which agenda? Whose agenda?ed. J.W. Tollefson and A.B.M. Tsui, 1–18. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Tsui, A.B.M., and J.W. Tollefson. 2007. Issues in language policy, culture and identity. In Language policy, culture and identity in Asian contexts, ed. Amy B.M. Tsui and James W. Tollefson, 259–270. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Chan Kok Leong. 2009. Dr M turns to Internet opinion on PPSMI issue. The Edge. 9th July, p. 9.Google Scholar
- Chan Kok Leong. 2009. Interview with Professor Diraja Ungku Aziz. PPSMI satu kesilapan. (PPSMI is a mistake.) Mingguan Malaysia. 19th July.Google Scholar
- Chapman, K. 2008. Stick to English, parents urge ministry. The Star, 23rd October.Google Scholar
- Chapman, K. 2009. Reeling from the reversal. Sunday star, 12th July.Google Scholar
- Goh, L., and K. Chapman. 2008. Weighing all the pros and cons. Sunday Star, 14th December. Goh, L., and K. Chapman. 2008. Going for a compromise? The Star, 21st December.Google Scholar
- Gomez, J. 2008. Teaching of science and mathematics in English: Revert to Bahasa, urge writers. The new sunday Times, 14 th September, p. 16.Google Scholar
- Hassan, A. 2008. Time to drop linguistic shackles. The Sun, Friday, 5th September, p. 16.Google Scholar
- Nor Hashimah Jalaluddin. 2009. Why PPSMI reversal makes sense. The New Sunday Times. Sunday July 19th, p. 21.Google Scholar
- Report of the Education Committee.1956. Kuala Lumpur: Government Press.Google Scholar
- Subramaniam, G., and Mardziah Hayati Abdullah. 2007. Concerted effort needed. The Star23 th December. Retrieved in June 2008.Google Scholar