Malaysia: Too soon to see results of policy on the teaching of Maths and Science in English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Oct 25 01:06:30 UTC 2008

Too soon to see results of policy

IT seems the debate on the teaching of Maths and Science in English
has not simmered down at all. As a Malaysian living in Australia, I
ask our policymakers and the Education Ministry on behalf of parents
and children back home, to not simply change or do away with the
policy. Children are not guinea pigs and they are not meant to suffer
because of a sudden policy change. Results of a new policy do not
appear overnight nor within months or a year. It usually takes more
than five years for them to surface. Perhaps the policy should stay
for our children's sake for a long time.

I agree with those who truly believe having English as a medium to
teach Science and Maths will benefit our children in the long run.If
this policy stays, I can see the possibility that someday our children
will be able to take Malaysia to greater heights in the international
arena when they compete against others in business, medicine,
information technology and the sciences. In this day and age, English
is the lingua franca used in the arts and sciences. Besides, English
is also widely used in international relations, diplomacy and law.
Take a look at the European Union as an example. What do they have in
common with our Commonwealth nations?

EU citizens use English as an international language not just to
communicate or seal business deals. They know that being able to
communicate in English opens many windows of opportunities. If it
weren't for Europe's ability to be flexible enough to accept English
as the lingua franca, would it be possible for European brands like
Ikea, Nokia, Lindt, Tetra Pak or even Siemens to be so well-known
around the world today?

Just because we use English as a medium to teach Maths and Science
does not mean we are encouraging our children to neglect their mother
tongue, dialects and Bahasa Malaysia. I hope this policy shall stay
for our future generations and to the policy makers, please consider
this issue wisely. Using English to teach a particular subject has
absolutely nothing to do with turning our children into Westerners.

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