By Emily Bt Mising Udup, Lecturer, School of Education, MPU and Language
Education in Malaysia is a continuous effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, to produce balanced and harmonious individuals in terms of intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical based on strong faith and obedience to God. Such efforts are designed to produce citizens who are knowledgeable and efficient, have high moral standards, and who are responsible and able to achieve a high level of well-being for themselves, in addition to contributing towards the harmony and improvement of family life, society and country in general (Falsalah Pendidikan Kebangsaan in the Education Act 1996).
The mission and direction of the country’s education became more rapid after the formation of Vision 2020. At the same time, the country is undergoing a dynamic development transformation process in various aspects of life due to changes and increasing globalization in economics and international trade. This has caused Malaysia to be trapped in the currents of modernization and globalization, especially in the science and technology revolution. As such, it has led to the existence of a challenging environment in the national development environment. This also raises new demands in national education, especially to produce manpower in the short or long term. Based on the national education philosophy and nine strategies in Vision 2020, the Malaysian government has strived to achieve the future direction of education presented in the form of the mission statement of the Ministry of Education in 1995 (Education Challenge 2017, Ministry of Education Malaysia).
Thus, the development of education in Malaysia is one of the important pillars in realizing the country’s goals as a developed country in the future. Despite facing various transformation challenges, whether from preschools to institutions of higher learning, those challenges need to be taken seriously and resolved together from the grassroots level.
Looking at the history and origins of the Malay language, it serves as a mean of communication or lingua franca at the time of the appearance of the Melaka Sultanate. Community Malaya then use Malay as the process interact with merchants who came to trade in Melaka. Malay is the main language used in the course of trade. At that time, the Malay language into an intermediate language between the local traders with foreign traders, who are mostly familiar and fluent and partly written using languages other than English. Here can be seen the ability of the Malay language as an international language because it is used by various nations and foreign speakers (Hanis Nazrin et. Al, 2017).
According to Jeniri Amir (2013), a country that does not have a national language is a country that has no soul and spirit. The country will definitely face the problem of uniting its population. With different languages, values and interests, people will easily quarrel with each other. Social unrest will ensue and this will ultimately harm the country politically, socially and economically. On the other hand, with the national language as the lingua franca, the people of various ethnicities will be able to be united, the people of various districts will be able to be bound, and cities and villages will be able bridge.
The statement was supported by Indhumathy a/p Munusamay (2013), Malay language also serves as a language of unity. Unity is very important in a multi-racial society. Without unity, the country will fall apart and a sovereign nation will be destroyed. In Malaysia, there are three major races, namely Malay, Chinese and Indians. The Malays are the original inhabitants of Malaysia, has a population of more than 50 percent of the citizens here. That is why the Malay language has been selected by the majority of the population. This language must be known by every race because this language is the main language in the context of inter -racial relations.
Zulkifley Hamid (2014), stated that language allows humans to communicate easily and effectively. As a communication tool, language is able to overcome various limitations and barriers. It is capable of transcending ethnic boundaries or barriers, geographical or political boundaries, social status and hierarchy, religion and ideology and other limitations, whether inherently pre-existing or deliberately held for a specific purpose. In the current era of globalization, there is no language in this world can be monopolized by any party or group. Anyone can learn and use the language of anything and nobody can prevent the interests or wishes, including the Malay language.
Now the Malay language should interact with sophisticated requirements in the current era of technological development, the development of trade and economic activities and relationships that supported by a global foreign language, especially English. The dominance and importance of English proficiency at the open sky level is inevitable. In reality, English has been elevated as an intellectual language to delve into other fields of technology and science in various fields. However, the sudden need for science and so is not a threat to degrade pomposity Malay language to function as a means of dissemination of knowledge (Salleh Abdul Rashid et. Al, 2015).
There is no doubt that the Malay language as the language of instruction in the education sector in Malaysia. Teaching and learning (P & P) in the medium of Malay language will not threaten the students at the tertiary level to master various branches of science with good (Salleh Abdul Rashid et. Al, 2015). This can be seen through the goals set by the ministry in the curriculum of all schools. Standard Malay language curriculum is built on six pillars, namely communication, spirituality, attitudes and values, humanities, science and technology literacy, physical and aesthetic and skills. The six pillars are domains that support each other and integrated with critical, creative and innovative thinking (Curriculum and Assessment Standards Document, Primary School Standard Curriculum, Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2016).
The Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM) is implemented in stages starting in 2017, formulated to meet the requirements of the new policy under PPPM 2013 – 2025 so that the quality of the curriculum implemented in secondary schools is comparable to international standards. KSSM secondary schools uphold the role of the Malay language as the national language, official language, the language of unity, language knowledge and the language of instruction in schools as well as a catalyst for understanding the mind, thought and sociocultural speakers to produce the spirit of love for the language and the country shared in a vision for the sake of upholding the Malay language (Document Standard Curriculum and Assessment, KSSM, Ministry of Education, 2016).
As we know in higher education such as IPTA or IPTS, English language as a medium of T&L in lectures. IPTS in particular, the average field or course provided requires the use of English in the process of delivering R & D such as science and technology, administration, business, marketing, tourism, engineering and so on. In the meantime, reading materials such as reference sources and books for these fields are mostly in English. According to statistics Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, since 30 years ago, only 800-1000 books on higher education published in English (Nadzalinda, 2015). This shows that the Malay language is not yet fully capable of being used in institutions of higher learning.
Language policy changes in Institutions of Higher Learning (IPTA) in 1993 as well as flexibility in the Education Act 1996 which was granted to Institutions (IPTS) the use of English as the main medium of course adversely affect the function and position of the Malay language in IPT. This reflects the efforts made by the previous government through the introduction of the 1970 National Education Policy as if it did not achieve its objectives. In other words, these changes have shown the government does not believe in the ability of the Malay language to function as the main medium of knowledge in science and technology in higher education institutions, on the grounds that the use of this language can accelerate progress in that area (Hamdan Azmi et. Al, 2013).
However, developed countries such as Germany, China, Japan and Korea use their respective mother tongues to advance in science and technology. They have a high psychiatry and reap benefits compared to other people’s civilizations (Utusan Online, 11 October 2013). Efforts to uphold the Malay language as the official language and the language of science in this country should be strengthened in line with the Article 152 of the Federal Constitution. Head of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Department, Prof. Datuk Dr. Awang Sariyan said, the role is seen as a big trust that needs to be implemented by all citizens. According to him, the pinch of globalization impact on the Malay language proficiency among the population in this country is based on the ability to debate belief that language as the language of science. Therefore, the responsibility of putting the status and role of the Malay language in the actual position is enshrined in the National Language Act (Utusan Online, 21 April 2014).
Thus, the problem of Malay language proficiency among students should be curbed. The goal of teaching the Malay language that emphasizes the mastery and use of Malay language better quality among students aim for the students to use the language to gain knowledge, improve the intellect, skills learned and the life pure (Tay Meng Guat et. Al, 2016). We as Malaysians should be proud to have the national language because Malay language can unite the races in this country.