Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has spoken of the need to use English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics.
Dr Mahathir, who is also acting Education Minister, said this is in line with the government’s intention to promote the use of English and the mastery of the language in the country’s education system.
“It is very important that we must give time for English, particularly in the learning of Science and Mathematics. Geography and History can come in any language but Science and Mathematics are not indigenous fields of knowledge (to Malaysians).
“It comes from abroad. Most of it comes to us in English, therefore we have to use English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics,” he said during a special meeting with Education Ministry management officials in Putrajaya yesterday.
Dr Mahathir also observed that those who studied Science in Malay would later find it difficult to work where English was required.
A video clip of his remarks was later uploaded to his Facebook and Twitter. However, there was no mention of when exactly the move will be implemented.
During his previous tenure as prime minister, Dr Mahathir introduced the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) programme during the 2003 school session to all students of Year One in primary schools and Form One of the secondary level.
PPSMI was fully implemented to all secondary school students in 2007 and primary school students in 2008.
The policy was unpopular, even among then-opposition parties such as PKR.
It was scrapped in 2011 by the previous Barisan Nasional administration. The education minister then, Muhyiddin Yassin, said the programme had resulted in less rural students passing Science and Mathematics.
This was disputed by some, who said the results had improved under PPSMI.
Muhyiddin then introduced a replacement policy to “Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and to Strengthen the English language” (MBMMBI).
Detractors of the reversal alleged that MBMMBI was meant to appease Malay nationalists ahead of the 13th general election.
In 2016, the government then introduced the Dual Language Programme, where certain schools had the option of whether to teach Science and Mathematics in Malay or English.
The prime minister also acknowledged that the country and the people would like to see reforms in the country’s education policy.
“I have been having these ideas about the role of education in the development of our country…I’ve noticed certain weaknesses which need to be attended to. So, I would like to put on record my views on education so that we can work together to achieve (them),” he said.
“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,” Dr Mahathir said.
He said that certain problems arise from the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial country, but this is also something that can contribute to the development of the country.
“In fact, much of the development of this country is based on the good working relations between the different races. If the county is not stable, if we are at war, you can forget about development,” he said.