DPM: ‘Teaching Maths and Science in dual languages not feasible’

By Florence A Samy, The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The situation will be kucar-kacir (chaotic) if parents are given the option to decide if they want their children taught in Bahasa Malaysia or English in the learning of Science and Mathematics in schools, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

“It will be hard for the Education Ministry to plan. How are we going to do it if one school wants it in English and another in Bahasa Malaysia?

“Also, how are we going to provide the teachers? Some of our English teachers are not so efficient.

“What if some schools want the subject to be taught in English but we do not have good English teachers? In the end, the parents’ hopes will not be realised,” said Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister.

“It is not that we do not understand the parents’ wishes. I am also a parent but we need to look at the best approach and this is what we have implemented this year,” he said after opening the 8th Malay Language and Literary Congress here yesterday.
Literary recognition: Muhyiddin adjusting the songkok on Tan Sri Emeritus Dr Ismail Hussein, who was presented with the Outstanding Figure of Malay Literary 2011 award during the 8th Malay Language and Literary Congress at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.

Muhyiddin said the Government had studied all aspects before making its decision to abolish the Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) programme, which was implemented in phases from 2003.

He had announced in 2009 that the PPSMI would be abolished and a new policy Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English (MBM-MBI) would be implemented.

He reiterated that English would not be sidelined, adding that efforts were under way to improve the learning and teaching of the language in schools.

These included changing the curriculum to make it more attractive and effective; increasing English class periods from 240 minutes to 300 minutes; and bringing in teachers from the United States next year under the Fulbright programme to strengthen the teaching of English among teachers as well as training more teachers in teachers’ training institutes.

“The MBM-MBI policy started this year and all Year One pupils, with the exception of those in vernacular schools, have to use Bahasa Malaysia for Science and Mathematics.

“We will not sideline English, especially when it is a communicative language. I believe the steps we have taken this year will bear fruit in the coming years.”

On the statement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong that the mechanism for the changeover to the teaching in Bahasa Malaysia would be announced soon, Muhyiddin said the “soft landing” approach would be used to explain to parents that the transition from PPSMI was not drastic.

Muhyiddin said Science and Mathematics would continue to be taught in both English and Bahasa Malaysia up to 2015, as the final batch of students in the PPSMI programme would have then completed their secondary education.

While some groups wanted to retain PPSMI as an option, others supported its abolition, including a group of 48 non-governmental organisations which submitted a memorandum to him on Thursday.