By SAJAHAN ABDUL WAHEED
KUALA LUMPUR, Tues:
The government is expected to reverse the policy on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, it is learnt.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is the Education Minister, is expected to announce the government’s final stand on the policy, at a Press conference, after the weekly Cabinet meeting, in Kuala Lumpur today.
The policy, referred to by its official abbreviation PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Mathematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris) has been hotly debated among various groups, some of whom held discussions with the ministry.
The PPSMI, mooted by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, was implemented in 2003.
There have been mixed reactions with some quarters wanting the policy to be retained while others arguing that it should be reverted and the two subjects be taught again in Bahasa Malaysia or Chinese/Tamil in vernacular schools.
One of the main arguments on why it should be retained is that a reversion at this point would mean that six years of hard work practically would be going “down the drain”.
The National Union of Teaching Profession secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng had said that billions of ringgit would be wasted in teacher training, reprinting textbooks, and formulating courseware and teaching aids.
When the policy was first implemented, there were many obstacles and difficulties in getting adjusted to it especially among teachers, students and parents.
One of NUTP’s main arguments was that it would be disconcerting to go back to Bahasa Malaysia for teachers who were sent for training and re-training in English.
Some feel that a major policy change now is rather unjust and grossly premature, as it would take between 10 and 15 years for any policy change to have an impact.
However, a reversal of the policy is something keenly anticipated by many Chinese educationists who were adamantly against the move from the very beginning.
Chinese educationist Goh Kean Seng was reported as hoping that the teaching of Science and Mathematics would revert to Mandarin in Chinese schools.
“It is imperative that the subjects be taught in the pupil’s mother tongue. Many students think in their mother tongue. They would need to be adept in the language used in teaching in order to be able to learn content-oriented subjects like Science and Mathematics. If they cannot grasp the language, they cannot master the subjects.”
One concern was that there were not many qualified teachers to teach Science and Mathematics in English, especially in rural schools.
A suggestion to overcome this setback is for students who lag behind in Science, Mathematics and English, to undergo remedial classes or undergo special programmes to improve their efficiency.
- Diana Abdul Molok @ TRS -