18 April 2009

PPSMI – I do it my way (Part 1)

“Apa pandangan Pak Cik tentang PPSMI? Setuju atau tidak?”

I have been asked that question by a number of friends and also a couple of my ex-Almanar pupils. It is a hot subject and Pak Cik am not about to be drawn to join the fray. After all, my interest is very simple. I started Almanar almost 15 years ago with a simple objective of helping the children in the vicinity learn three main subjects, English, Maths and Science subjects. It has been just that over the years.

All the children happen to be Malay. Even if there are a few non Malays from this area attending, I see no difference. They speak as good Malay as Malay children themselves. Let me digress a little here. When Pak Cik sat for my Cambridge School Certificate examination (the SPM equivalent of that time zone) there were 42 of us. Sitting for Malay paper three pupils opted to write in Jawi. One was a Tengku, a real blue blood. I was the second, a typical Malay boy, and the third was a Mr. Lee CL, a pure Chinese breed, a very close friend till today. He was raised in the area where Almanar is today. And, of course, all Chinese children in this vicinity went to the only school in this kampong, a Malay school. As a result, many were better off at Jawi than Rumi.

When I started Almanar, PPSMI was not an issue, but teaching had never been my profession. I was a green horn at it, but thinking big. Soon I came face to face with one problem. It was the children’s level of English, much worse than I bargained for. Communicating in Queen’s English would not help to improve the situation. So, Malay had to be the medium of communication. The second problem surfaced. The Malay terms used in Maths and science were a mixed basket of mind-boggling pseudo Malay terms, totally alien to me. All my life I knew them in English So I resolved to teach my pupils the original English terms – maintaining Malay as the medium of communication. That was a real win-win situation. I did it my way!

This went on and on until PPSMI was introduced. But the pupils were still the same, with their sub-standard level of English. It was fortunate that Almanar was beyond the reach of any school principles, school inspectors or the state director of education himself for that matter. I was not about to teach myself and my pupils the crazy Malay terms used in maths and science. So Pak Cik continued with the original English jargons like the following:


Now look at the equivalent of those terms in Malay. It runs like this:

Like Pak Cik, those familiar with the English jargons would certainly find it hard to adjust to the Malay equivalent. Likewise, our young pupils who are so used to the Malay version will be handicapped when they have to face the equivalent in English when they advance beyond school level. To Pak Cik, the switching over from one set of technical terms one is so used to, to a set of terms in another language, is the very crux of the problem we are facing. It is not the medium of communication. English version has an edge over the Malay. Very often the terms are linked; ray – radius – radian – radio – radar – radiate – radiation – x-ray - radiator etc. Similarly we have circle – circular - circumference – circuit etc. These are elements that simplify understanding,and that make the terms easy to be memorised.

Standard of English is an issue in itself. We ought to tackle the syllabus, upgrading it, allowing more time if needed. The standard is way below the minimum acceptable. For that Pak Cik totally disregard the materials and official format used in schools. I prefer it my way.

This was the problem that I saw at the start of Almanar and I have chosen a pragmatic way of dealing with it. Pak Cik’s teaching method may be termed unorthodox or unconventional but I am satisfied with the result so far. Whatever the outcome of the fate of PPSMI to be decided by the authority, Pak Cik will continue to do it my way.

When Pak Cik said ‘crazy Malay terms’ above I was trying to take a swipe at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. In my part II on PPSMI, Pak Cik will touch on why I believe “DBP ‘halalkan’ perkataan Inggeris jadi istilah Melayu” , the subject of Pak Cik’s article in Berita Harian five years ago. Then I was so dismayed watching how Bahasa Melayu, being brutalised by our ‘cerdik pandai’, some of whom have been fighting to abolish PPSMI in the name of ‘mendaulatkan Bahasa Melayu’. Yes, indeed, until DBP can produce a more credible and systematic technical terms I do it my way.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Kama At-Tarawis said...


You know Pak Cik, you couldn't have said it any better. There are a lot of unresolved issues facing our education system today and I am not even going to begin to rationalise why. Suffice to say, at the end of the day it's our young who suffer.

You have planted a tiny seed in me; I wish to start something like Al-Manar here in KL for the benefit of kids from the low-income group. I don't know how to go about doing it, but I know I can contribute and I do have friends sharing the same interest and God willing, we are going to try to make it work.

Al-Manar said...

Salaam to you, too. You accepted barely six months ago, an invitation for the trip of your life. Cut off from such basic pleasure as a proper toilet, (the loss of the right lense and my comments on your January 30 posting) which we all take it for granted, you made your wishes. I cannot help feeling the ‘tiny seed’ is one of His gifts. It has come so soon. Please take it on board. You will never know how it will refashion your life somewhat. Years ago a similar tiny seed diverted me from a course I had planned and prepared for a long time, but I have never regretted. How I wish to be in your position, qualified to do and having friends to share.

Anonymous said...

When I was still a young boy, I disliked Bahasa Melayu, my own language. For me, learning Bahasa Melayu is harder than Mathematic or Science or even English. If today you learn bombing is ‘mengebom’, tomorrow it will become ‘mengbom’. It is the inconsistency of Bahasa Melayu that troubled me so much during my primary school. In 2003, PPSMI was introduced, making me among the very first to experience the new government’s policy. Shortly after, there was a drop in students’ achievement, especially in Science and Mathematics and I believed it was inflicted by the policy. Five years onwards and nothing had changed except the increasing number of those who failed in that both particular subjects. At this point, I realised there is no other better way except to teach these subjects in our own mother tongue, or in this case Bahasa Melayu. What is more important is that I realised I had been unfair to my own language. Imagine all Malays care for their language, there would not be any inconsistency in Bahasa Melayu or existence of stupid Malay terms. ‘Bahasa jiwa bangsa’, depending on DBP to dictate how we should speak or write is simply pathetic as it shows that the ‘jiwa’ of Malays are under control of a body and not on their own. It is a dilemma for us as Bahasa Melayu is not at it’s best to be used as the main medium and using other language for teaching would only worsen the problem. The best solution is to use Bahasa Melayu as the medium but the terms remain in English, just like your way.

p/s:i'll be home by 7th of May,


Anonymous said...


Selepas kematian suami, saya telah menjual rumah kami di Shah Alam dan balik kampung. Anak-anak dah besar-besar. Ada yang dah berkeluarga dan yang bongsu sedang menuntut di UK. Salah satu sebab lagi ialah kakak ipar yang juga seorang janda mengajak saya duduk bersama di rumahnya. Bosan tak ada apa nak buat, saya ajak budak-budak kampung datang ke rumah main komputer. Dari satu, sekarang kami ada tujuh komputer. Ramai pulak yang menderma komputer (anak-anak dan anak-anak buah). Bermula dari situ, saya mula mengadakan tuisyen. Saya bukan cikgu. Pencen Ketua Kerani je. Tapi Bahasa Inggeris saya lebih baik dari Bahasa Inggeris sebahagian besar budak tingkatan 5 sekolah kg ni. Bayangkanlah. Sekarang di rumah kami ada banyak posters, flashcards dan workbooks. Ada antara budak-budak kg ni yg dah masuk sekolah menengah tapi BI mereka macam budak baru belajar BI. Macamana dia org pass periksa Darjah 6 pun saya tak tau. Sedihnya. Macamana nak compete di alam global nanti? Saya sering merasa tertekan sebab rasanya tak cukup masa nak tolong semua org. Itu belum masuk masalah disiplin budak-budak dan kerenah mak-bapak. Ada mak-bapak yg dtg marah-marah sebab anak mereka tuisyen macam budak sek rendah sedangkan anak tu dah sekolah menengah. Pelik betul. Kami tak minta duit pun. Bahan-bahan yang diguna pun anak-anak saya dan anak-anak buah yang belikan. Saya tau minta je. Sikap 'berlagak' Melayu ni kadang-kadang tak kena tempat. Banyak kali lepas kena marah rasa nak berhenti saja. Tapi kenangkan yg betul-betul nak belajar tu, tak jadi.

Kerani Pencen

Al-Manar said...

Pak Cik certainly look forward to seeing you when you are back from UTM.

Al-Manar said...

Kerani Pencen
Jangan bersedih kalau berhadapan dengan apa saja yang tidak menyenangkan. Tiada ‘jihad’ tanpa cabaran. Pak Cik sudah melalui banyak cabaran dalam masa 15 tahun. Yakinlah yang puan telah memilih apa yang Pendita Za’aba kata,
“Barangkali yang berperasaan demikian belum ada satu orang dalam tiap-tiap 10.000 orang Melayu melainkan kebanyakan masing-masing menilik kepada faedah diri, loba kepada tembolok sendiri, tamak ke perut sendiri ‘kalau kita sendiri tak dapat faedah apa guna….?’ ” Teruslah dengan tabah. Kalau puan ingin mendapat sedikit pandangan yang lebih lanjut tentang cara cara yang saya guna silalah e-mail saya seperti yang tertera dimuka hadapan blog ini. Saya doa kejayaan puan.

Apa Kau Nak said...

Salam Pakcik.

Thanks for visiting my page.

I vote for YOUR WAY! Provided the teacher are competent to use both language comfortably, of course.

Anonymous said...

pak cik,I have just received an offer to further my study at UIAM for dentistry. On this coming 4th may I will have an interview with the yayasan at the state library.

Al-Manar said...

Salam to you, and thank you.
Having competent teachers is certainly a prerequisite to the success of educating our young ones. Alas, it is just a big IF! In the meantime our ‘cerdik pandai’, the PhD’s and all, will keep voicing opinions after opinions. Let us do our way, doing our bits the way we know, understanding our own limitations.

Al-Manar said...

You have done your family proud. Mak Cik and Pak Cik are sure that all will be well with you, and we share the joy of your success.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for popping by at my blog. Your comments are indeed very valid in these times.
I have to agree, partially, with your idea of DBP being the culprit in ruining our Bahasa. They have legitimized the Melayu-ization of English words as an easy way out instead of actually translating words and terms.

As with everthing else, DBP too is highly politicized. You should check out their website and look at the Board of Directors. Most of them are not linguists. For example, they have the Attorney-General, Tresury Secretary-General, Director-General of Public Services, Treasury Secretary for Tax Analysis and so on sitting on DBP's Board.

As far as I know, Board determine policy and Management carries out policy implementations. If the Board does not comprise of experts in the field then the policies they churn out will be utter rubbish.

Sadly, not only DBP but many other government agencies suffer from being over-politicized. How can we expect anything to work?

My two cents....


Al-Manar said...

Saudara Melayu Lama,
Indeed, how can we expect anything to work? ....we can wait till the cows come home!
Salaam to you.

Anonymous said...

Ki, what is the meaning of the word 'CRUX' in the blog titled 'PPSMI I do it my way'?

Al-Manar said...

Abdul Aziz?

The word crux means the most
important part of something. The crux of a question means the most important part of it.

So you are starting to use Ki's latest birthday present to read my blog. You have now proved that you are not too young to own a laptop at Form 2. How about adik Sulaiman? I hope he will prove that a Std 6 boy can also do it. That is why Ki thought he too should possess his own.