Tuesday, 24 February 2009

We urge GMP to adopt our three demands

(Press statement by Suaram Johor – 21-2-2009)

The introduction by the UMNO-led BN government of the compulsory use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science in primary schools since 2003, has caused widespread dissatisfaction among the people, and has been vehemently opposed by civil society organizations of the various communities as well as political parties upholding the interest of the people.

Such policy has been implemented for the past 6 years. The BN government declared a trial run of the policy for a period of 5 years, after which all examination questions will be set in English by 2008. Whether the government will continue to implement the policy would depend on the results of the UPSR examination. The Ministry of Education had convened a total of 6 roundtable meetings to seek public opinion. There is no indication from the government that the policy will be revoked after 6 years of its implementation.

Gabungan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP), a coalition formed on January 13 by some Malay cultural groups, called for the revocation of the compulsory use of English in teaching Mathematics and Science in primary schools.

This goes to show that not only the Chinese and Indian communities vigorously oppose such policy, but the Malay community, by reason of their own practical experience, also realized that such policy is unreasonable, and detrimental to the development of the nation as well as the language and education of every community. As a result, the Malay community has also decided to oppose such policy.

The current development also indicates that the struggle of the people of various communities for their right to mother tongue education in primary and secondary school levels, and the position taken by them in the struggle for the survival and development of the mother tongue education are reasonable and appropriate beyond any doubt.

The formation of GMP and its activities illustrate that discontent among the Malay community towards such policy has galvanised them into an organized force. They must make it clear that their ultimate objective is to revive the use of mother tongue of each community in the teaching of Mathematics and Science. the national language (the Malay language) is not to replace English as the sole medium of instruction.

Only by way of stating its stand and approach with certainty, can the doubt or anxiety of non-Malay communities be removed, and only then can unity be forged and a formidable force of the people of various communities be developed, with a view to achieving success in the common cause of doing away with the policy of using English for teaching Mathematics and science in primary schools


Unease over narrow Interpretation of the Federal Constitution by GAPENA

On February 15, the chairperson of the Gabungan Penulis Nasional (GAPENA) Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Hussein lodged a police report at Brickfield police station, alleging that, by way of implementing the teaching of Maths and Science in English, the government has contravened section 17(1) of the Education Act 1996 (which provides that the national language is the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions in the National Education System, other than a national-type school exempted by the Minister); Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution (which says that the national language is the Malay language, provided that no person shall be prohibited (otherwise than for official purpose) from teaching or learning other languages); and Article 152(6) of the Federal Constitution (which provides that all education programmes and courses run by the ministry of education come under “official purpose”) [Note: A careful perusal of the Federal Constitution shows that the provision is worded differently]. Dr. Ismail claimed that more police reports by branches throughout the nation will be made.

On the following day, i.e. 16 February, GMP in a media statement, fully supported the action and approach of GAPENA. The chairperson of the GMP Dato Dr. Hassan Ahmad (former director of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka) appealed to the people to join them in a mass assembly comprising 100,000 people, scheduled to be held on March 7 . The assembly is to advocte the abolition of the policy.

We would like to express our doubt and unease over the objective and stand of the GAPENA, which might imply that, upon the abolition of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, the national language (the Malay language) would be introduced as the medium of instruction for the teaching of Mathematics and Science in schools of various streams of education, instead of using their respective mother tongues. In other words, the Chinese and Tamil schools, like the national schools, have to use Malay as the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science.


To revive the use of mother tongue in teaching Mathematics and Science

Suaram JB and Friends of Suaram (FOS) express their doubt and anxiety over the citing of Section 17(1) of the Education Act 1996, the narrow interpretation of Articles 152(1) and 152(6) of the Federal Constitution by GAPENA, and the support it received from GMP. We sincerely urge GMP to work on the basis of mutual respect for the cultural rights of all communities, and to agree to revive the teaching of Mathematics and Science in the mother tongue of each of the various streams of education.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country. Each community is entitled to equal treatment. All ethnic minorities, including the Chinese, the Indian, the Kadazan-Dusun, the Iban etc, should each have the fundamental right to teach in and learn its own language.

We strongly advocate the revival of the use of mother tongue in teaching Mathematics and Science, that is , the use of Chinese as the medium of instruction in Chinese schools, and the use of Tamil in Tamil schools. When conditions allow, even the other ethnic minorities (such as Kadazan-Dusun and Iban), should have the opportunity to receive education in their mother tongue.


Equal Treatment for All Ethnic Minorities

Any education system and policy advocating forced assimilation (that is, not natural assimilation) of any ethnic group is not in conformity with the fact that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. We hope the people of all ethnic communities will sincerely and jointly work for the right to mother language education for all.

We vehemently oppose any national cultural policy advocating “dominance of the Malay culture to the exclusion of the cultures of other ethnic communities”. Similarly, we are strongly opposed to any education system based on a single culture and language.

In the present age of globalization, a complete review of our education system for the purpose of embracing the notion of pluralism, openness, freedom and progress is desirable. We need an education system that provides well-rounded education for all individuals, an education that caters for social needs, an education that nurtures innovation, motivation and skill-learning among students.

We are against manipulation of education as a means of subjugating others. The Education Act 1996 fails to provide fair treatment for the Chinese, the Indian and other ethnic minorities in the development of their respective mother tongue education.

To enhance the support for the revocation of the use of English in teaching Mathematics and Science, and to clear the doubt and anxiety of ethnic minorities, we hereby urge the GMP to include the following three basic demands in the Memorandum submitted to the Ministry of Education on 4 August 2008:

1. To revoke forthwith the policy of using English for teaching Mathematics and Science in primary schools.
2. To revive the use of mother tongue for teaching Mathematics and Science in all primary schools.
3. To respect the fundamental right of all communities to receive mother tongue education.


The memorandum was endorsed by 53 organizations comprising cultural and educational groups, alumni, youth organizations and political parties. 6 of the organizations are Indian-based. They are the Malaysian Tamil Education Research & Development Foundation、Persahabatan Semparuthi Johor, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Persatuan Artis Tamil Malaysia Negeri JOHOR, Persatuan Tamil Neri Malaysia, Persatuan Teksi dan Kereta Sewa India Johor; while 14 of the organizations are Malay-based. They are Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Johor, Teras Pengupayaan Melayu Johor, Yayasan Amal Malaysia Negeri Johor, Persatuan Ulama Malaysia Negeri Johor, Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam SeMalaysia (GAMIS) Zon Selatan, Angkatan Muda Keadilan Negeri Johor, Ikatan Mahasiswa Islam Johor, Jabatan Amal Malaysia (Johor), Kelab Usahawan Muslim Johor, Parti Keadilan Rakyat Johor, Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Persatuan Silat Kalimah Johor Bahru, Pusat Aduan Rakyat Zon Kempas, Sekretariat Silat Kalimah Antarabangsa (SKA).

We reaffirm the recognition of Malay as the official language (the national language) as well as the common language of all ethnic communities, but we do not approve of the approach adopted by the BN government, or any political party, organization or individual in suppressing the right of non-Malays to develop their own language, culture and mother tongue education, in the name of upholding and promoting national language (the Malay language).

Due respect must be accorded to the language and culture of each ethnic minority, and the development thereof. The multi-ethnic culture of each community should constitute an important part of our cultural heritage. A harmonious atmosphere ought to be created for the co-existence and co-prosperity of all ethnic communities.



Friends of Suaram
Suaram Johor
21 February 2009


Press statements in other languages:
Malay - SUARAM JB Menyeru Gabungan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) Menerima Tiga Tuntutan Utama
Chinese - 大马人民之声(新山支会) 吁请“废除英语教数理联盟”(GMP)接纳三大诉求

Article:
Surat Balas daripada GMP/Response from GMP

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