Should Maths And Science Be Taught In English Again?

Malaysia will be revisiting the usage of English in teaching Maths and Science subjects and it has gotten mixed reactions.

should maths and science be taught in english again?Photo: Malay Mail

The announcement was made last Thursday (30 Jan) by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also currently the acting Education Minister, during his meeting with officers from the Education Ministry.

In his address, he began by sharing his concerns about Malaysia’s education system.

“I am of the opinion that the people would like to see some reforms in the education policy in our country. I have had ideas on the role of education in the development of the country, and towards this end, I have noticed certain weaknesses which need to be attended to,” he said.

Before introducing the initiative, he added that Malaysia is a multiracial country and that much of Malaysia's development is based on the good working relationship between the races.

“We want to promote the use of English, the mastery of the language, in our education system. This is very important. We must give time for learning English, in particular in the learning of Science and Mathematics,” he added.

He realizes that the announcement may trigger backlash but firmly believes that the initiative is a step in the right direction.

“Of course my views are not always popular or not always acceptable to many people, but I feel that I need to push certain things, to make sure that our children grow up and find themselves able to tackle the problems of adult life.”

“That is the purpose of education.”

As predicted, the announcement has gotten mixed reactions.

Some who were opposed to the idea cited the ineffectiveness of the initiative that was abandoned back in 2013 and the fact that they were no clear plans for how it is going to be implemented.

The teaching and learning of Science and Maths in English or better known as PPSMI was introduced in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One, and Lower Six students back in 2003 under Dr Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister. It was fully implemented in all secondary schools in 2007 and primary schools in 2008 before it was eventually abolished in 2013.

Malaysia Kini also reports a few strong rebuttals, mainly from Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim, who reminded how unpopular the initiative was when it was first implemented and also from Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia (iGuru) who are worried that this initiative would further alienate the rural students and cause them to be less interested in the science and mathematics subjects.

Many, however, have also come forth in support of the Prime Minister’s decision and feel that the reintroduction of English for Science and Maths will benefit the country as a whole.

Claiming to be a product of PPSMI, Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Syaddiq also weighed in on the issue in support of the Prime Minister’s decision.

“I have shared my thoughts with the Prime Minister. I agree with his proposal as I went through the PPMSI and have succeeded through this system,” he said.

“What I have learned through PPSMI could be applied in my varsity days until today. It has helped me and my generation, that is why I am all out for it,” he added.

The government, however, reassures the public that the decision to teach Science and Mathematics in English has yet to be finalized.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters that the reintroduction of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) was still in the preliminary stage.

What do you think of the issue? Should English and Maths be taught in English again?

By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya