Sunday, October 24, 2010

Make schools safe for teachers and students

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in Parliament last week that some 1,650 of 55,000 school buildings were found to be severely damaged and required immediate attention.

Five percent of the number was found to have wiring problems.

This revelation is a matter of grave concern not only to the Education Ministry, but also to the teachers, parents and students.

What immediately comes to mind is how soon will this be rectified as the safety of teachers and the students are at stake.

Over the years a number of accidents had occurred in schools which resulted in injuries to students.

The latest incident involved SK Gunong in Kedah where a classroom floor caved in while a class was going on and 10 pupils and a teacher were injured.

According to Muhyiddin, the Government allocated RM8.85bil for his ministry to carry out development projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan. An estimated RM5.36bil would be used to continue uncompleted projects under the 9th Malaysia Plan. The balance is to construct new buildings and schools, as well as upgrading existing ones.

As such, the Government should provide a special allocation for repairs and rectification works on all affected schools in the interest of safety.

Under no circumstances must the safety of teachers and students be compromised and the “safe school” concept of the Education Ministry be put in jeopardy.

The subject of “safe schools” should not be confined only to indiscipline, crime, threats to the safety of students, bullying and gangster-like behavior etc but also to matters concerning the safety of school buildings, classrooms, equipment and all other amenities in schools.

In this regard, there is a need for schools to be aware of the existence and importance of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 and its application to educational institutions.

Schools with 40 or more employees are required to set up safety and health committees.

Through safety and health training, and education as well as safety and health promotion, every school will be more aware of the potential safety and health hazards in the school. They will also be capable of dealing with any problems that arise.

Such a move will also benefit the students who can learn more about safety and health at an early age.


Kuala Lumpur.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bilingual option for students and teachers

KUALA LUMPUR: All Year One pupils in national schools next year will be studying Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia.

They will not be given a choice to answer in English for school tests and public examinations as they progress through the years. Their textbooks would also be in Bahasa Malaysia, said Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom.

Those entering Form One and Form Four next year will be given the option to study Science and Maths either in Bahasa Malaysia or English. Their textbooks, however, will be in English.

"If the students are ready to be taught in Bahasa Malaysia, then the teacher can teach the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia. If they are not ready, then the teacher can teach in English or opt to teach in both languages.
"Through the 'soft landing' approach, the change in the medium of instruction for the teaching of Science and Maths will be done gradually to accommodate the variability in students' and teachers' readiness," Alimuddin told the New Sunday Times.

He said the process of transition will be done in stages (refer to transition table).

Alimuddin added that the switch to Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for Science and Maths would apply to national schools, whereas in SJKs (national-type schools), the switch would be to their mother tongues -- Mandarin in SJKC and Tamil in SJKT respectively.

Students entering Form Two in 2012, said Alimuddin, would be allowed to study Science and Maths in Bahasa Malaysia and English until they reach Form Five in 2015.

"Textbooks in Bahasa Malaysia will be supplied to Year One pupils beginning next year and Year Four beginning 2012 for primary schools. For the SJKC and SJKT, there will be textbooks in Mandarin and Tamil respectively.

"As for secondary schools, textbooks in Bahasa Malaysia will be supplied to Form One and Form Four students beginning 2012.

"Students are allowed to answer in English in exams during the transitional period but once the medium of instruction is completely in Bahasa Malaysia for a particular year or form, then they are required to answer in Bahasa Malaysia," said Alimuddin.

Asked whether schools will be given the option to teach the two subjects in English, Alimuddin said: "The bilingual medium of instruction is allowed only during the transitional period. Once the medium of instruction is completely Bahasa Malaysia for a particular year or form, then the only medium of instruction allowed is Bahasa Malaysia.

"By 2016, the medium of instruction for both subjects across primary and secondary schools will completely be in Bahasa Malaysia in all national schools," said Alimuddin.

He said 2013 was the last year in which the Penilaian Menengah Rendah examination would be conducted in two languages for Science and Maths, while for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations, it would be in 2015.

On July 8, last year, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister, announced the cabinet's decision to reverse the policy of teaching Science and Maths in English (or PPSMI).

Muhyiddin was reported to have said Science and Maths would be taught in Bahasa Malaysia and vernacular languages in stages from 2012 in line with the ministry's "Memartabatkan Bahasa Melayu, Memperkukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris -- Upholding the Malay Language, strengthening command of English" strategic move.

The reversal in policy came seven years after PPSMI was introduced by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2003.

Muhyiddin told Parliament in October last year that the ministry was mulling the possibility of teaching the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia to Year One pupils next year, ahead of the initial 2012 target.

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