CONCERNED citizens and parents have been following the debate on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English for months.
In seeking to resolve this issue, we should look at the big picture.
As we are aware, Bahasa Malaysia is the national language. It is supposed to be the unifying factor among the different races to create oneness. Thus, after more than 50 years of independence, we would expect every citizen to be familiar with, if not conversant in, the language.
If it is not the case, then efforts must be made to ensure that everybody is comfortable with this medium.
This long-overdue ideal atmosphere needs the political will of the government and the sacrifices of all races.
We have been told by education experts that children learn best in their own language.
Thus, if every citizen can accept Bahasa Malaysia as his own language, we can overcome those obstacles that have cropped up.
And if everybody can embrace Bahasa Malaysia as his own, then children from kindergarten to university can pursue their education in the national language.
Make no mistake. The right to practise one's own language, as enshrined in the Constitution, will be respected and protected.
We are free to practise and preserve our language as well as our culture and religion as we wish. But as far as school children is concerned, the authorities should introduce a single education system to ensure that the young go to the same national school from day one.
By embarking on this endeavour, we are not only assisting the children in their pursuit of academic knowledge but also boosting national unity as envisioned in the 1Malaysia concept.
Sacrifices have to be made and we owe that to future ge-nerations.
At the same time, since English is said to be the language of the information age, steps must be taken to ensure children are exposed to English and learn this language effectively.
We must also remember that the national language is capable and can be a language of instruction for teaching Science and Mathematics.
We must also continue to create Bahasa Malaysia terms for Science and Maths, thus enriching the language and making it relevant for all times.
The News Straits Times Online: 20 April 2009