Malaysia: Give schools option to teach in English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Oct 4 16:19:26 UTC 2008

Give schools option to teach in English

KUALA LUMPUR: Schools are expected to take a stand on whether to
support the continued use of English as the medium of instruction for
Science and Mathematics. First to come out in support of the present
policy is the Parent-Teacher Association of SK Bukit Damansara. It
obtained a mandate from its members at a meeting yesterday to appeal
to the Education Ministry to continue with the use of English. At
present, English is used in the teaching of the two subjects from Year
One to Year Six.

SK Bukit Damansara PTA vice-chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said
members of the committee would be meeting PTAs from other schools next
Saturday to enlist their support. A report will be submitted to the
ministry.  Noor Azimah said this would ensure that the ministry got
feedback from the grassroots. The on-going debate among parents,
educators, students and government officials on the use of English as
the medium of instruction for the two subjects was sparked by a report
in the New Sunday Times.

The report, based on a survey by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris,
said the policy introduced by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir
Mohamad in 2003 was flawed and should be scrapped. SK Bukit Damansara
PTA committee member Roz Mawar Zain said there were limitations in
using English to teach Mathematics and Science. However, reverting to
the national language would be too drastic. Roz Mawar added that more
time was needed to gauge the results of the existing policy.

Noor Azimah said the Education Ministry should consider alternatives
such as improving the current syllabus and the training of teachers
instead of taking a step backwards. "We have no intention to degrade
the importance of the national language. What we want is for the
younger generation to be well equipped to compete on a global level,"
she said. Should the government decide to revert to using the national
language in the teaching of Science and Mathematics, the PTA committee
members informed parents at yesterday's meeting that they would
suggest another option to the ministry.

"If the policy is changed, schools should be given the choice to teach
both the subjects in English," said Noor Azimah.

In the long run, these schools might be considered as cluster schools
of excellence for English, she said.

Director-General of Education Alimuddin Mohd Dom said earlier last
week that the results of this year's 518,616 Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah
Rendah candidates would be one of the factors that would decide
whether or not the policy would be continued.

"Many other factors will be considered, including the views and
suggestions from various quarters through round-table discussions," he

Two round-table discussions were held in July and August on the issue.
Two more discussions would be held this month.

Alimuddin said the first two discussions, which included the
participation of teachers, community leaders, PTA members and
professional bodies, had brought forth three views.

One was that the policy should continue and its implementation be strengthened.

The second view was that it should only be implemented at a higher
level, either at the secondary level or Year Two in primary school.

The third view was for the government to scrap the policy and revert
to teaching the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.


English is an important language today. English using in the teaching
of two subjects from Year One until Year Six. The two subjects are
Science and Mathematic. English very important because this language
using as international language. So, we are canto communicate with
foreigners if we are expert speak in English. The government also
wants for the younger generation to be well equipped to compete on a
global level. This policy should be supported by all generations.
Besides that, English Language also using for get any jobs either
government or private firm. So, we should know speak in English for to
get job in markets.

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