KUALA LUMPUR, 8 July 2009: The move to teach science and mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia and the mother tongue in vernacular schools effective 2012 has been described as a realistic and a welcome policy change by many quarters, although they felt the need to strengthen proficiency of English should still continue.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Professor of the Nordin Sopiee Chair in Global Studies Dr Chandra Muzaffar said the policy to teach the two subjects in English “had failed to enhance the command of English among the vast majority of our students.”
“What we have to do now is enhance the teaching and learning of English from primary schools right up to university and make it more effective at all levels to produce a generation of Malaysians who are proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.
“We have to review the methods of teaching English, [and] review the content of English language courses in primary and secondary schools. We have to look into training English language teachers and create an environment where the learning of English is more conducive,” he said.
Chandra also advocated taking advantage of the media to be more effective in strengthening the study of the English language.
Gabungan Penulis Nasional (Gapena) president Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Ismail Hussein, however, believed that apart from reverting its policy while strengthening English proficiency among students, the government should also emphasise Malay language and literature.
“We in our association would like more emphasis on the national language and national literature … our Malay literature should be seen in a bigger context because Malay is a regional language.
“We are proposing that Malay literature, language and culture be looked in a global context and not just the national boundary. There is no doubt the government should emphasise on the language of the constitution,” said Ismail.
Elsewhere, National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said according to the decision made at the NUTP Conference in August last year, the teaching of science and mathematics for secondary students in English should be maintained.
“We had stated that it was okay for such a change to be made at the primary level, but that English be maintained for science and mathematics at the secondary level.
“As teachers and members of the union, we succeeded in achieving 50% of the goals of the old policy. Nevertheless, as the government has made its decision, the NUTP is of the opinion that as civil servants, we are bound by the new policy,” Lok said.
MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said the party agreed with the cabinet’s decision as it had been the request of the Tamil School Headmasters Council that both subjects be taught in Tamil.
“Although there were improvements among students in the two subjects in Tamil schools, there was a general consensus among the council members that the two subjects should be taught in Tamil,” he said. — Bernama