Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another debate on vernacular education

John Lee put forth the following question in Mack Zulkifli's blog:-

"[...) what are your thoughts on mother tongue education? Do you support the government's move of teaching science and maths in English? Do you believe vernacular schools might be detrimental to national unity?"

Mack invited his readers to comment on the above question and I put in my 2-cents worth on this issue which, on second thought, I decided to reproduce below in my own blog.

Our current education system is all vernacular based, and lets not kid ourselves into saying that the National Schools are not actually Malay vernacular schools. If you want to do away with mother tongue education, the only way is to have the whole syllabus in a language which does not "belong" to any one of the main race groups in Malaysia, meaning Malay, Chinese and Tamil. So that leaves only the English-type school, unless of course you want to use French, or Japanese? And why not English? When no one has a claim to superiority and one-upmanship in the language to be used in education (and everything else in this country), then we are all level, truly Malaysian. There will cease to be an emotional race-related link in formulating a better system for the education of our young and future generation. But are we prepared to accept that English is still the global language and that we cannot continue to use the excuse of not giving it due importance because it reminds us of the bad old colonial days? So, we continue to ignore global challenges and the borderless world that is creeping up on us so long as we insist that we can survive and do very well cocooned in our own kampung, and thank you but no thanks, we don't need to venture out beyond our own shores and kow-tow to foreign culture & languages. That is exactly the defensive stand we are taking now. Learning vernacular languages ought to be optional. But learning and getting a proper education in a language which will fit you in nicely in a globalised environment is not optional. We are not living in treetops, speaking monkey languages only we ourselves understand but no one else is interested in. And do you not agree too that when Malaysians of different races interact in English, we tend to forget that we are Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain? We become Malaysians. And that is one good reason to re-introduce English back into our lives and society. Same thing happens everywhere else in this world. No one cares which race you are from so long as they can understand you, from Russia to Rome or India to Egypt. And what language do you think you need to use in all these countries? Melayu, Cina or Tamil?



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