Monday, February 15, 2016

World-ranked scientist backs movement to abolish new school English programme

You don't need English to produce world-class science, says a top ranked Malaysian scientist who has thrown his weight behind a coalition to abolish the dual language programme (DLP), Putrajaya's latest initiative to improve English-language skills among students. Prof Wan Ramli Wan Daud of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's (UKM) engineering and built environment faculty, said DLP would see students learning science and mathematics in English just to increase their proficiency in the language. This, he said, was wrong, as students should be taught Science and Mathematics in their mother tongue. "It is also a myth that you need English to learn and produce good science as in UKM, our research and papers are done in Bahasa Malaysia," added Wan Ramli, a chemical engineering professor and also founding director of its fuel cell institute. Wan Ramli and two other Malaysian scientists were named among 72 influential scientific minds of 2015 by world-renowned academic indexing agency Thomson-Reuters, which is based in New York. Supporters of DLP argue that English proficiency is necessary for local researchers to get international recognition. The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), a pro-DLP outfit, said the language medium of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) is English. Wan Ramli admitted that UKM researchers needed to rewrite their papers in English in order to get them published in international journals, which is necessary to get their studies recognised. "But this is merely translation. English does not add value to the research that had been done. You can learn and get expertise in science through Bahasa Malaysia," he told The Malaysian Insider. DLM is being run for Year One, Year Four and Form One classes in 300 schools nationwide, and students are taught four subjects: English, Math, Science, and Creative Design and Information Technology. Participation is voluntary and must be agreed to by parents, teachers and students. Wan Ramli said anti-DLP coalition MansuhDLP was not against English proficiency, but was opposed to the teaching of Math and Science in English. MansuhDLP is spearheaded by Gerakan Mansuh PPSMI (GMP), a group created in 2009 to stop the former policy to teach Science and Math in English, known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym PPSMI. It believes DLP would eventually be adopted beyond the 300 schools and would displace Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction. "I have taught in Bahasa Malaysia, my Masters and Phd students conduct research in Malay and even write their findings in Malay," Wan Ramli said in order to illustrate why BM was not an impediment. "Much of the science in the world is produced in non-English languages such as German and French. Most of the discoveries in quantum physics are done in German. "The reason you need English is because the major scientific journals are now owned by English-speaking countries." – February 16, 2016.]]>

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