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Here in Malaysia, we strive to be a 1st world country, however, we can never achieve that due to our 3rd world mentality.
An example of this would be how the government chose to change the education of science and mathematics to English but then revert it back to the national language of Bahasa Melayu. We took 1 step forward, but 2 steps back. In 2003, the education system made it so that the students would learn Math and Science in English, however, the government reversed this policy in 2009 and in 2012, these subjects will again be taught in Bahasa. This is a farce, absolutely ridiculous, and I don't see a right explanation to it except maybe pride, bribery, or maybe self-seeking gains. Whatever reason the government will have, it will never be able to justify this act. Who knows what the real reason for this may be, but it definitely does not have the good of this country or its citizens in mind.
In our current government education system, in both primary and secondary school, the only input of English we have is during English class. Subjects such as mathematics, sciences (bio, chemistry and physics), accounts, geography, history, moral, physical education are all taught in Bahasa. There is only a bare MINIMUM of an input of English; the lingua franca of the world.
The government only gave it a mere 6 years and decided that teaching math and science in English is not reaping rewards and in fact, the children are doing worse off. An oil palm tree takes 3-4 years to produce fruit, up to 10 years to produce and even better yield. We humans, we're not oil palms, it takes a generation to reap the fruit, it takes a few generations to change a country. You see, the root cause of the poor grades is the fact that English was a totally foreign language to them in the first place, this is especially true in the rural areas. It has been said that education is not just important for the individual, but for the community as well. The government failed to see this, they failed to see how the children brought up in an English educated background can help continue to guide and nurture the future generations after them.
Here in Malaysia, we have many different races living in this country, many different languages that are spoken and each race has their own mother tongue. It is exactly because of this that many students find it hard to adapt to another language that is taught. The students still struggle with the language being Bahasa, and they will struggle even more in tertiary education. I am still very boggled as how the government fails to see this, how they fail to see that not being able to compete at the tertiary level means not being able to compete with the world.
The native language for the Malays would be Bahasa, for the Chinese, it would be either Chinese or English or even both, the Indians, either Tamil, English or both. We get our mother tongue, our native language from our parents. When we speak Bahasa, it is merely because it is a lingua franca in this country, it always has been since the prime of Melaka and always will be. It is NOT our native language and I doubt it will ever be. The government however, seems to impose that on us and it is exactly because of their failure to understand their citizens that they are falling behind in this world.
Another excuse the government gave was that only 19.2% of secondary teachers and 9.96% of primary teachers were sufficiently proficient in English. Again, I am still dumb founded on how they fail to see that the exact reason for these low figures is that they concentrated so much in teaching things in Bahasa that they neglected the English language. This cycle will go on until the government dares to step out of their comfort zone, dares to opt for change and dares to take the action necessary. It is this government that hinders the education system here in Malaysia, and until change comes, they will constantly cause this country to lose out in the world.