Sunday, February 22, 2009

Malaysia: Is Teaching Maths & Science In English A Pro Or Anti-Supply Side Agents?

Reasons Math & Science must be taught in English:

(1) English is the language of knowledge. All the information on the latest issues & coverage whether it’s academic or non-academic are available only in English, whether one like it or not. Failure in its mastery will hinder one from acquiring more knowledge. For instance, during my university years some of my peers face extreme difficulty when it comes to Economics research work as everything learned earlier is in national language but information referred to is in English. Also they are unable to identify those terms such as price elasticity of demand (PED) as we in Malaysia learn it as keanjalan permintaan harga. Some others like terms of trade is called kadar syarat perdagangan (which is long winded), Gross Domestic Product (GDP) called Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK). This is only considering for Economics & not other subjects or broader issues

(2) Spoken language for international business. I don’t have to explain much on this. We hardly use any other language besides English. If I have a business partner based in UK, you can’t expect me to negotiate deals with him in Bahasa or Mandarin. Even between the Malaysian Chinese & Chinese in China, there is an increasing usage of English as medium of communication. Probably it has become a culture. Also, what is the language used in international forum or conference?

(3) To increase employability. One of the main reasons, why unemployment persists among Malaysian graduates is because of inability to converse in English. Even if someone is very outspoken in his mother tongue, but if he can’t communicate his idea in English when it comes to a job interview it will be futile. Also in Malaysia, employers nowadays have the tendency to give written assessment to job applicants as part of screening before the real interview

Reasons why some go against:

(1) Language conservatism. Some quarters just do not seem to understand the intention of Malaysia’s former premier, Tun. Dr Mahathir who wants to produce better quality of human capital through the mastery of English. While it is assured that our national language, Bahasa will remain as the main language & is protected under the constitution, some conservative people are just so worried about the degradation of Bahasa usage in daily life

(2) Japanese people do not learn Science & Math in English. While I do agree that the Japanese are so much forwarded than any other society from the globe without English, their learning culture, technology, civilisation etc have started much earlier than us. In a globalise world, where things change rapidly, failure to keep up with advancement in information will just put us behind others. Wondering why these people don’t compare Malaysia to Singapore?

(3) Rural people are left behind. It is said that rural kids have the lowest level of command in English. As such, putting Math & Science in English will further discourage them from learning. Besides, their parents mostly who do not receive any formal education will be unable to assist their child in subjects like Math & Science. While I do agree, again I feel that to achieve a more developed society this is an inevitable process. Either those rural school children will have to work themselves up or be left far behind

Overall, I do hope that the Ministry of Education will continue the policy of teaching Math & Science in English. From economics point of view, since it increases the marketability of an employee & enables one to acquire more knowledge in the long term, this policy will influence aggregate supply (AS). When AS shifts rightward, higher real output can be attained in Malaysian economy. Productivity of a more knowledgeable worker will definitely be higher than one who is not (refer above)

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