Study Leave

To clear up misconceptions and ideas:

I’m taking a one-month leave from work to do homestudy. As most know, I took my TESOL Foundation class this May. I’ve confirmed completion of that test. The current course structure under GlobalTesol means that I have to take one specialisation. This Specialisation is Teaching English to Adolescent aka teenagers.

I actually have one year to do the course, but I aim to finish everything by end of August. This means completing the required reading and submitting the lesson plans and assignments to my course lecturer, Celine. There are no formal lessons or classes I have to attend.

I’m writing this post cause I’ve got a lot of confusion over it. 😀 Hope that clears it up. And in case you were wondering, I am probably going to make the MPBJ Library my second home during this month, so I might be away from the Internet for long periods of time. m(_-_)m

Teach Sci and Maths In English No more!

In 2003, the Government decided to teach Maths and Science in English, so as to bring the schoolchildren up to speed with the rest of the world. This was opposed by proponents of the vernacular languages; Malay, Chinese and Tamil. It was the first time since Malaysia was born that these normally fighting factions got together to oppose a common enemy.

On July 8, 2009, the current Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said that the government was abolishing the policy and that instead, they would increase the contact hours for teaching English and hiring additional teachers to handle the workload, looking at possibly pulling teachers out of retirement. Their reason behind this decision seems to be rather flimsy: rural students were losing out to urban kids and this had to be addressed immediately.

The general consensus, no matter where you go, is that the policy is very poorly-thought out. The majority of teachers teaching Science and Maths in English cannot actually speak English to save their lives, much less teach. They are products of the all-Malay curricula that began in the 1970s, where English was also marginalised because it was the language of the colonisers.

Unless your family were native speakers or grew up studying in a English-medium school, there is a high chance that your command of the English language would be rather poor. I know of a few colleagues who got to where they are today despite originally having poor command of the language by putting the language to use regularly. These are the rare ones, the ones who motivate themselves to study and understand how to use the language.

Most Malaysians have a “it’s just enough” attitude when it comes to English. Their reasoning is that as long as their command is enough to understand others and have others understand them, there’s no need to improve it. After all, when you’re a designer, what use is there to know the difference between “a SMS” and “an SMS” when it’s the copywriter’s duty to do so?

This, however, is a fallacy. My take on this is simple: having a working knowledge of the language is a must! In Malaysia, that means Bahasa Melayu and English, especially when you consider that the country is also a tourist country, you should ensure that your citizens are able to answer and understand simple questions like, “Can I get a refill?

It does not apply to just those in the service industry. It applies to everyone. Having a working knowledge of English is essential to understanding clients and colleagues. In a globalised economy, you cannot afford to marginalise one language over another, especially when the language you are attempting to marginalise is spoken by millions around the globe. You cannot also afford to marginalise a language spoken by BILLIONS to preserve your own diminishing political power.

I for one, agree to abolishing the philosophy, but only because those implementing it are expecting instant results and any surveys done had no real control groups. The Maths question posted (I cannot remember on whose blog I saw, but I did remember seeing it) in English and Bahasa was widely different. The English question had fractals, the BM question was a straightforward division question. So tell me, how can that survey be equal? Or conducted without bias?

In nation building, the government, I believe, is responsible for creating policies that will satisfy those who put them into power, ie. the voters. It is with this idea and thinking that I propose the following (being a voter myself):

Bring back English-medium schools.
I went to Stella Maris for my Form 4-5 studies. It was a private school, and one that spoke English all the time. Everything was conducted in English, from our science lessons (this was before the advent of the Teaching of Science and Maths in English, by the way), our Moral classes and our Geography lessons too, I think. The only time we spoke BM all the time was when we were in BM classes/BM co-culrricular activities. All our classes were in English otherwise.

Give parents the choice to choose whether the kids learn in English or BM or Mandarin or Tamil. If not, then let us have the option to have private schools that will do so.

Teachers are NOT administrators.
I do not believe that teachers are administrators. They should not be the ones to collect the fees for their classes, they shouldn’t have to be the one that plans the whole Sukan Day thing and they should not be the ones to write mountains of reports. They shouldn’t be the ones to come up with a million and one activities to fill up the school’s calendars. That’s what you have the school administrator and clerks for. Teachers should be teaching, not administrating.

Please lighten the burdens of teachers and let them be teachers, not administrators.

I am out of ideas for now. I do have them running around in my head but that will be in another post.

Seen on Nat’s blog

Taken from here.

Speech delivered at the Malaysian Bar Council, Bar Council Human Rights Public Speaking Competition 2008 finals (1st prize), 12 Dec 2008:

Good evening everyone.

In this country, I’m the minority of minorities.

Firstly, I’m a female. Secondly, I’m a Chinese and thirdly, I’m an agnostic.

I’m glad to let you know that, throughout the 19 years of my life thus far that I have spent in Malaysia, I’ve never encountered serious oppression because of my sex, race of religious belief, because thank God, in Malaysia, we acknowledge and have satisfactory protection of women’s rights, as well as the rights of racial and religious minorities.

But I also belong to another minority that has been discriminated and persecuted until this very day.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I stand before you today as a gay Malaysian to appeal for the protection of gay rights in Malaysia.

What does it mean to be gay person?

A gay person is someone who is attracted to persons of the same sex.

But that’s it. The definition ends there.

Far beyond our differences, I share many similarities with all of you in this hall.

For example, I’m here today because like you, I’m concerned about human rights and I enjoy debates.

Like you, I’ve a family that I love and cherish.

Like you, I too, long for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And most of all, like you, I am capable of love.

What does it mean to be a gay person in Malaysia?

For one, I know that I probably will never be able to marry the person that I love in this lifetime.

Until today, there’s no formal organization that I can rely on to speak up and stand up for my rights.

Sometimes, I’m even subjected to state-sanctioned homophobia such as that propagated by the National Fatwa Council’s recent decision to outlaw tomboys and lesbianism.

In the last three days of this tournament, I’ve made quite a number of friends, who are in this hall right now.

And I’m thankful for your priceless friendship.

But there’re many occasions in life when, in the course of making friends, I wonder…I wonder if their friendship is subjected to the assumption that I’m a heterosexual.

I hate to doubt anybody’s sincerity and capacity for acceptance and friendship, but as a homosexual Malaysian living in a homophobic Malaysian society, I’ve no choice but to grapple with such fears and suspicions on a daily basis.

And what about gay rights? What are gay rights?

Gay rights are simply the rights of gay persons to live in peace and dignity, and to be accorded the same recognition and opportunities as other human beings.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have gathered here today at this human rights debate tournament because we share a common ideal: that all men and women are created free and equal, but I would also like to introduce another concept to you today: that not only do we deserve equal human rights, but that all human rights are equal.

That means, gay rights are no less important and impacting to the preservation of human dignity than women’s rights, the rights of racial and religious rights as well as other rights.

For far too long in Malaysia, the issue of gay rights has been at best occasionally brought up by human rights organizations and at worst, totally swept under the carpet.

And this has to stop, because discrimination towards gays is no less demeaning and dehumanizing as discrimination towards women, blacks, Jews, Tutsis and other minorities.

At the same time, I realize that some of you here will hold views contrary to mine, and I realize that I probably won’t be able to change those views with a single speech, but I would still like to encourage you to reconsider some of the common arguments against gay rights.

If you fear that the granting of gay rights will bring about the end of procreation and the human race, let me assure you that the granting of gay rights will eliminate heterosexuals no more than the granting of heterosexuals rights will eliminate gays.

If you believe that homosexuals are perverted and abnormal, then remember that there’re many things which we approve of today, such as hand phones and cars, and the concepts of democracy and gender equality, which are unnatural outside the realm of civilization, but are still worthy of preservation anyway.

At the same time, there’re many things which come naturally to us, such as hatred, fear and bigotry, which I believe aren’t worthy of preservation.

If you’re one of those who object to gay rights on religious grounds, and believe that we’re the untouchables, then remember that the untouchables too, are the children of God.

I stand before you today as a gay Malaysian to appeal for the protection of gay rights in Malaysia, but I do not speak for myself.

I do not speak for the person I love.

Neither do I speak on behalf of the estimated 350,000 gays and lesbians in Malaysia.

Rather, I speak on behalf of humanity as a whole, because our fate is intertwined.

When one man is not free, all are bound.

And when the gay community triumphs, our triumph too, shall be your triumph.

Martin Luther King had his dreams, on which my fellow speaker Marcus Wee will elaborate after me.
I too, have my own dreams.

I hope to pursue a life of happiness and companionship with the person I love, freely and without fear or fervor.

I hope that someday, if I ever win a public competition with a speech on gay rights, I can go home and proudly tell my parents of my achievement without fear of repercussions.

I also hope that you will join me in the cause to uphold gay rights. But if that is too much to ask of you, then I appeal for tolerance.

But most of all, I dream that someday, speeches like this one will no longer be necessary.

Lastly, I end my speech with a quote by Boethius:

“Who can put a law unto love? Love is unto itself the highest law.”

Thank you.

Chong Yong Wei, Gabrielle