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sjkc
01-12-2002, 10:28 PM
A tentative memo to the PM
Posted on Sunday, December 01 @ 04:00:00 EST by eS
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By Group of Concerned Citizens

Dear YAB Perdana Menteri:

We are appealing to YAB Perdana Menteri that the government reexamines the implementation of teaching of Science and Mathematics in English in Tamil schools. We strongly believe that the long run effects of the language switch are not encouraging for the children attending Tamil schools. Furthermore, we fear, the remarkable gains achieved by Tamil schools in last couple of years will be reversed as a result of the switch.

The language switch will have deep implications on the socio-economic development of Tamil speaking Malaysians in the country. Specifically, our socio-economic impact assessment indicates that the language switch could further exacerbate poverty, create a higher dropout rate, worsen the social ills that afflict the community, and intensify the unequal distribution of wealth within and without the various ethnic communities that make up Malaysia. Thus, we suspect, the move by the government may inadvertently further marginalize the Tamil speaking Malaysians.

At present, Tamil schools to a great extent serve as sanctuaries to the Tamil poor, given that over 95 percent of the 90, 000 or more children attending Tamil schools come from families earning less that RM 1,100. [As per YSS study.] For them, education is the only avenue for upward mobility; and Tamil schools furnish them that.

Over the last 10 years, Tamil schools have made impressive gains in both Science and Mathematics. The UPSR results for 2002 indicates that Tamil schools achieved an 81 percent pass rate in Mathematics and 75 percent pass rate in Science. Moreover, about 198 Tamil school students scored 7As in the exam.

We fear that the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, a foreign language to all Tamil school students, would reverse the positive trends indicated.

Having collectively worked for the development of Tamil schools over the past 15 to 20 years, we are of the opinion that teaching of Science and Mathematics in a foreign language will cause students to loose interest in the subjects, and lead to high levels of failure; hence, leading to increased drop-out rates in Tamil schools.

It is instructive to note that a study undertaken by the Yayasan Strategik Social, the research wing of the Malaysian Indian Congress, indicates that students in Tamil schools studying in their mother tongue outperform their Sekolah Kebangsaan counterparts from similar class and economic background in both Science and Mathematics. It clearly shows that the children in their formative years learn and acquire knowledge best in their own mother tongues, a phenomenon that is acknowledged by leading educationists both locally and internationally, and recognized by the United Nations.

In conclusion, we want to indicate to YAB Perdana Menteri that we concur with YAB on the importance of the English Language in a globalized world. However, we are concerned that the governments language switch initiative may have an adverse impact on Tamil school going children in particular and Indian-Malaysians in general. We, therefore, humbly request YAB Perdana Menteri to reexamine the implementation of the language switch in Tamil schools.

Thank you.