Thursday, April 29, 2010

The truth behind why MOE is reducing weightage of mother tongue in PSLE

Recently, the Education Ministry said reducing the weightage for Mother Tongue in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) can help students whose scores border between the normal and express stream. Most importantly, this can help when streaming students to secondary schools, allowing those stronger in mother tongues, but weaker in other subjects, to go into streams that are more suitable for them, like the normal stream. On the other hand, those who are strong in other subjects, but could not even complete a sentence in their mother tongue, they can go into streams that are more suitable for them as well, like the express stream.

One may wonder, why the sudden change, and who are the students that will truly benefit in this decision that will inevitably lower the standard of our younger generation's mother tongue, especially Chinese, yet again?

Well, just like what Agent Mulder will say, the truth is out there.

The following article was published on LianHe ZaoBao on 22nd January, 1999:

基础较弱学生希望华文教学更生动

就读于英华中学的郑长明、黄元恩和郭修贤,都来自讲英语的家庭,平日接触华文的机会不多,阅读的书刊也几乎全是英文书籍。郑长明和黄元恩都是中三生,而郭修贤目前在中一班。由于华文“B”课程将于2001年在中三和初院一年级开办,因此他们可能成为第一批选读华文“B”的学生。

黄元恩也表示希望看到华文教学以更生动的方式进行。他说,英文课并不注重课本内容,又不时穿插辩论、语文游戏等活动,使他能够在轻松的气氛中学习。华文课给他的感觉却是沉重的。

“每到上华文课的时间,大家都突然严肃起来。”

对他而言,华文的重要性也远比不上英文。他说:“华文不过是一个科目而已,只要我可以用华语和他人沟通就足够了。英文就不同,我觉得我有必要搞好我的英文,因为这对数学、文学等其他科目都有帮助。”

黄元恩的父亲黄永宏也对这项新安排表示支持。他在接受电话访问时说,设立华文“B”课程,能够让他的儿子把精力集中在其他科目上。

“华文一科占了元恩30至40%的学习时间,而且,尽管他这样努力,华文成绩还是不理想。现在,他至少可以把时间更好地用在那些他较能吸收的科目上。”


And thanks to a friend, this is the English translation:

Three students from Anglo-Chinese were interviewed when MOE first introduced Chinese B classes in 2001. All of them come from English-speaking families with almost no contact with Chinese and almost all their reading materials are in English.

Jonathan Ng Yuan En (黄元恩) who is in Sec Three expressed that he wishes that Chinese can be taught in a more interesting manner. To him, English is interesting because text books do not matter, and instead they have debates and words games etc. to make learning English lively and relaxing. Whereas the Chinese lessons are too stern. It is as if everybody just got serious and stern during Chinese lessons.

He also feels that Chinese can never be as important as English. It is just a subject and it does not matter as long as he can communicate with others in Mandarin. But English is different. He needs to be efficient in English because it helps in other subjects like Maths and Science.

Jonathan Ng's father Ng Eng Hen (黄永宏) is glad that Chinese B classes will allow his son to concentrate in other subjects. He laments that even when his son was spending 30-40% of his time in Chinese alone, he was not making any progress in his result at all. With the new scheme, he can now spend his time more efficiently on subjects he can understand better.


And for those who have spotted and find this Mr Ng Eng Hen sounding kind of familiar and ringing some bells in your head, oh yes, Bingo. His current job now is Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence.

Yes, I did notice that his youngest girl should already be 16 years old by now, so is he not kind of late in implementing this weightage reduction at PSLE? Well, for a clue, turn around and look at other younger ministers in the cabinet and make a guess whether their kids speak Mandarin and write Chinese. I'm sure you do your colleagues some little favors at times right?

14 comments:

  1. Stop at Two is a total failure.
    Graduate mother scheme another one.
    2nd language Chinese another one also.
    Foreign immigrants another flop.
    CPF retirement has already the signs of failure.
    HDB flat mortgage another failure in the making.

    How many more mistakes will there be ?


    How many failures already in their policies ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. As long as we continue to vote for them, we'll live to see more mistakes in the making.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If, as the so-called Zaobao article says, Chinese B was introduced in 2001, how can the article be dated 22 January 1999?

    It's like a year 1999 article talking about Barack Obama presidency in the past tense.

    Something is wrong with this quote.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For your info, CLB was first introduced in 1999. Nothing wrong with the quote.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If you have doubts with the originality of the quote, check out:

    http://www.zaobao.com/zaobao/special/special/pages/chinese220199.html

    This has just reinforced my thoughts that the immediate beneficiaries are our leaders and their social networks who have been neglecting MT (specially Chinese) partly due to their personal successes in the PAP system without having to know any Chinese.

    It's futile to associate cultural and heritage links with people who don't even speak the language... afterall PAP had sacrificed/disadvantaged generations of Chinese educated people. Only with the rise of China then they started to embrace learning Chinese for our long term viability; before 80s, you might be treated as communist if you love Chinese language too much!

    Now the Education Minister's challenge is how to get my (and minority in the similar situations) kids to the top schools while still appear to embrace MT...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Time when I grew up, English was hard to a majority. That is because most family spoke not English. But this group of studente eventually overcome this their parents encourage and motivate them

    Chinese was hard only to a minority. That is because some small group of family do not speak chinese at home. The continue to struggle because their family see chinese as "no damm standard" and "second class language".

    That sums it all up. The parents decides on the environment for learning. If you do not encourage your kids, give thema wrong signal they fail. DO NOT BLAME OTHERS, DO NOT BLAME THE SYSTEM.

    Chinese standard in Singapore is now as low as it gets except for "western" countries. We were once as good as all others. if MOE thinks its not important, scrap it. Do not say its important while your action shows othewise.

    Education is not a choice, its a must. In all countries in the world, you have to do a range of subjects regardless if you like it or not. Of course it will be reduced or scrapped if it is not important. The Education ministry of each country will do the same.

    ReplyDelete
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