KUALA LUMPUR, 23 June 2009: The potential benefits from the English Teaching of Mathematics and Science (ETeMS) policy has been “nominal” up to now, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Muhyiddin (File pic) Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, told Parliament today that the there was only a small difference in students’ command of the three subjects before 2003, when maths and science were taught in Bahasa Malaysia, and after.
“[The change] has only been about 2-3%,” Muhyiddin said.
He also said the command of the English language among teachers was merely “moderate”.
Muhyiddin was answering a question by the DAP’s Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who asked the minister to state the steps that have been taken to improve education standards, including the teaching of maths and science in English.
The Kepong Member of Parliament (MP) said that the ETeMS policy was six-years-old, and asked that the reports on its effectiveness be made public.
Since its implementation in 2003, the ETeMS (or PPSMI in its Malay acronym) policy has been criticised by various quarters, including Opposition political parties, students groups, and language stakeholders.
On 7 March, the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) held a peaceful march to Istana Negara to protest the policy. They were met with police action.
Decision by July
Muhyiddin said that the government would make a “comprehensive announcement” on the status of the ETeMS policy by early July.
“I give my word, we will do this at the soonest possible date,” he said.
He added that a full analysis of the policy had already been carried out, and that the report would be submitted to cabinet.
Muhyiddin revealed several measures that the government would be taking to improve the command of English among teachers and students. These included upgrading of computer labs in schools into ”language labs”, and the emphasis on the teaching of English grammar and literature.
“We are also considering hiring English-language teachers from overseas,” Muhyiddin added.
At a press conference later, PAS MP for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad, said that Muhyiddin’s statement was proof that the government had carried out the ETeMS policy without sufficient preparation.
Khalid Samad (right) at the press conference with Yusmadi Yusoff (PKR-Balik Pulau, left)
and PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar
“They should have made sure everything is ready. Don’t make our children guinea pigs,” Khalid said.
Khalid called on the government to “do the responsible thing” and to suspend the policy immediately.