Friday, 14 November 2008

Ten for a moment..

Terminal Tunnel Vision Patients

Jeffrey Archer’s A Quiver Full of Arrows has this short story entitled “Chunnel Vision” which tells of a man transfixed with HIS own fixations that he failed to see anything else.

If my recollections are correct, the tale has it that he had gone on and on about a possible book he would be writing to an author friend at a hotel whilst his (soon-to-be former) girlfriend indulges in some extravagant dining exercise.

At HIS expense, of course.

Hence the title, a cheeky attribute to the medical condition in the loss of peripheral vision. You can read the story here .

My mind drifted back to (Sir) Archer’s story upon reading this particular comment from NUTP secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng:

“When you are taught a subject in a certain language for six years, you should improve in the language. There should definitely be progress; otherwise it means the teachers are not doing their jobs. We need to analyse the different groups of children's achievements. For example, how many students got Es in the subjects?”
Examination Blues
This comment was made in the heels of a reported 4.4 per cent increase of A scorers in English and a 4.8 percent increase in overall competency (A,B and C), a 46.6 per cent of pupils (or 238,153 in figures) choosing to answer Mathematics in English and 31.1 per cent (159,234) for Science.

These figures are astounding especially compared to last year: 0.2 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

NUTP had sometime back voiced its opposition to continuing the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English in one of the mainstream newspaper, so the reaction was perhaps understandable.

Shouldn’t however the fact that more children are finding English to be something neither foreign nor incomprehensible rejoiced?

I find the NUTP’s wanting to still finding flaws in the face of such positives bewildering.

In any education system, there will be failures. Most of the time, it's the result of multiple diverse causes and not necessarily the education systems or the language used in its delivery.

Unless all those who tackled Maths and Science in English had actually scored badly, what would be a cogent reason for backtracking a policy that helped increased significantly our students’ confidence in the language?

Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was spot on when he was cited as saying:
“…it answered the emotional outbursts following the implementation of the policy, as if it will jeopardise the future of our children.”

There was nonetheless still a proviso:

"This does not mean that the policy was right. It also does not mean that we will not make changes.”

Can’t blame the Minister as he is, after all, a politician, and a good one always gives face.

I just hope the Minister and the Cabinet members would put in their minds the faces of these children with their newfound confidence before deciding on the issue.

(Perhaps I am the one afflicted by this ailment? After all there were some reductions in the number of A's in both subjects...)

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