The Malaysian Debate about using English

Let me add a few points to the current debate about Maths and Science in Malaysia. My view is that that kids in the urban areas are more likely to be ahead than those in the rural, nor matter what language system is in use.

1. By nature, kids in the rural areas are usually under less pressure to excel than those in the urban. The compactness of urban societies makes their parents to exert more pressure for their children to perform.  Country kids have the rivers, the flora or the beaches to absorb the pressure of life; even playing with the monkeys or watching the squirrels that came out from the edge of the forest is great fun. Such soft touches are lacking in urban areas. Sydney kids will always be under more pressure to perform than those in the country, where flora abound and kangaroos leap around. 

 The same principle applies whether it is in Malaysia, S Korea or Australia. The best schools in New South Wales (James Ruse, Baulkham Hill High, North Sydney Girls High School, etc) are all in the heart of Sydney. The proportion of Asians in James Ruse, the undisputed Harvard of NSW’s high schools, is about 90 percent dominated by Chinese and Indians (or kinfolks), taking English as the lingua franca. These kids will undoubtedly succeed in taking up the most sought degrees (medicines, etc) in the most sought after universities in Australia.

2. Kids in the urban areas have more resources, the most important of which is the presence of numerous private tutors if they so need. Also, city dwellers have higher income and such expenses are seen as wisely invested. Even parents would be under more pressure for their kids to excel. And pressures are also from neighbours and the society at large. If you live in a more exclusive suburb, the neighbour next door has just bought a new Lexus; his son had just returned as a practising doctor, his daughter has just got accepted to study Law at Oxford.

 If you live in the poorer quarter of the city, the neighbour back door is nightly quarrelling into the early morning; surely it must be about career or finance. Another at the side is screaming at their children every evening, unsettling the nerves of those around, adding pressures day in day out that one should catch up. And wherever there’s pressure, there is a need for their outlets. Sydney has a chain of well organised tutoring schools in every suburb, from kindy to year 12 to absorb such pressures, and are always well attended by Asians.

3. As a result of the points above, country folks have less expectations in life. In general, rural kids don’t have the zeal to go to foreign countries to further their careers but would be happy to get a qualification to enter the civil service. There isn’t as much pressure from their parents or country folk to put senseless hours into the early morning at the expense of a good night sleep. Cities kids have much higher expectations and will bear such pains willingly.

 4. Most overseas graduates, when they return to Malaysia, will settle in an urban area, KL predominantly, and will virtually speak English at home. Petaling Jaya. Subang Jaya. Their children will be street ahead of other kids in the rural. The result is that urban kids will always outperform their rural counterpart no matter what language system is used.

The gov’t version of explanation is really mugged in stupidity. Years into the change of teaching Maths and Science in Malay, say in 2016, the no-brainers in the cabinet would still be wondering why rural kids are lagging behind. By that time Thailand and Vietnam are both jogging behind, kicking our heels, while Singapore has sprang out of sight lol.

Joel Huan, author (Over Mount Fuji ~ Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

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~ by Joel on July 16, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Malaysian Debate about using English”

  1. Although it can be said there’s always two sides of a good story, in this case a country, the government should really work in developing the rural areas in order to reach a symmetry in rural and city area. Just going turbo in the city isn’t enough, and this can really show up in the living conditions. I know this may sound like rambling, as it is in the freaking middle of the night, but there is a very basic point: develop the rural areas!

    P/s: I live in the city btw.
    P/p/s: Happy new year guys!

  2. Imagine the year 2020 and when there is a Public Relation position advertised, it is flooded with 10,000 applications, whereas an engineering position is left unfilled after the third try. Only then will the government come to realise its foolhardiness.
    Well, even now, Msian current technology is manifested by its only probably showcase, the Proton. Lets see what the World says: Proton Sucks

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