Dr Mahathir: Math and Science lessons in English are crucial building blocks for broadening Malaysian students’ horizons

(MMO) – Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has again called for Mathematics and Science to be taught in English to make national schools more viable, according to a report by MalaysiaNow.

In an interview with the news portal, Dr Mahathir, who used to hold the education portfolio, lamented that public schools have now pivoted heavily towards the Malay language and religious studies.

“In the end, students face difficulties in furthering their studies overseas as they must be proficient in English.

“Even if you want to go to Japan, you have to be fluent in English,” said Dr Mahathir.

While Malaysians in the past were known to be proficient in English, he added that “now it is no longer the case”.

The teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) was among Dr Mahathir’s final policies before he left office as Malaysia’s fourth prime minister.

It was pioneered in 2003 to mixed reactions before being eventually implemented at all stages of the national school system in 2007.

However, it was scrapped by the previous Barisan Nasional administration in 2012.

The education minister at the time, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, introduced a replacement policy to “Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and to Strengthen the English language” (MBMMBI).

Dr Mahathir, however, clarified that he only meant to push for Science and Mathematics lessons in English, but not for the return of English-medium schools.

In January of this year, Dr Mahathir had announced the return of the English medium for Science and Mathematics, prior to resigning as the Pakatan Harapan prime minister in February.

“Do not sacrifice knowledge because you want to prioritise a language. That is why I have always stressed teaching Science and Mathematics in English,” said Dr Mahathir.

He also stated that Malaysians would lose out in the field of science if they are not proficient in English.

“Every day, thousands of studies and scientific research papers majoring in science are published. Without English language skills, Malaysia will not be able to excel in new discoveries,” he said.