Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teaching Maths and Science in English

I have been told that the government has reverted to using Bahasa Melayu to teach Maths and Science in national schools and mother tongue in vernacular schools. At the same time, the Ministry of Education would strengthen the teaching of English, both in primary and secondary schools.

Of course we welcome the decision, which is what MCA and a lot of Chinese parents hope for. Of course parents in the urban area may be disappointed since they want to continue to use English in the teaching of Maths and Science.

With this decision, we hope that the Ministry of Education and parents should then move forward in ensuring that their children do not neglect Bahasa Melayu and English. All Malaysians should be multilingual. We should not be a monolingual race knowing only one language. In a highly competitive world, command of languages is an added advantage. English is today an international language. The Ministry of Education should meanwhile improve the teaching infrastructure of English in both primary and secondary schools. Steps should be taken to overcome the shortage of qualified English and Mandarin teachers. One of the solutions is to employ contract teachers who are trained to teach English and Mandarin.

Since the new policy will be implemented in 2012, I hope that the scrapping of the policy would not affect the students and their studies.












Fern said...

What is the problem? The students or the teachers? If the teachers cannot teach well in English, train them until they can. Taking a step back is not the answer to the problem!

Benjamin said...

Now everybody is happy, MCA, UMNO, MIC. That is more important. It is still a CHANGE but will it be a FORWARD one? Who knows.

Gopeng said...

"Of course we welcome the decision, which is what MCA and a lot of Chinese parents hope for. Of course parents in the urban area may be disappointed since they want to continue to use English in the teaching of Maths and Science."

Are you sure Dato'? I am a MCA life member and also Chinese Parent and this decision STINKS! I have a lot of MCA member friends and Parents who are not "politically motivated" who agrees with me!

Goh Wei Liang said...

I am truly disappointed with the decision made by

* Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
* Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong
* Cabinet Malaysia

I disagree and I am totally unhappy with the decision made based on inputs from academicians, teachers, politicians, NGOs and I was told Tun Dr Mahathir was consulted also

It is undeniable that our teachers are not proficient in English and face difficulties with PPSMI.


* is it not the case that our teachers were once students who went through SPM and STPM ?

* did our teachers fail to get a PASS or Credit in English when they were in school ?

The Education Ministry should have been firm and maintained the PPSMI with a periodic review of the policy to refine and improve it.

This is a victory for the politicians, language experts and students who were opposed to the PPSMI including NGOs like GAPENA, GMP and Dong Jiao Zong.

Their arguments provided to the Ministry are

* protect the status of Bahasa Malaysia and mother tongue
* many students will fail the exams
* people learn best in their mother tongue

PPSMI was introduced not to improve the students' command of English but to ease the process of learning, understanding and acquiring knowledge in Science and Mathematics.

The vocabulary and terms used in Science and Mathematics will never be mastered by the students via English Language Studies or the relatively new subject English in Science and Technology (EST).

My advice to the Malaysian community is not to hide behind the veil of "Preserving the identity and mother tongue".

WE go to school to learn, absorb as much material as we can and also discover new areas and knowledge.

We do not go to school just to acquire a piece of certificate, which is after all just a sheet of paper. What use will the certificate be if we come out being educated merely on paper but our brains are still empty ?

Our parents send us to schools with the hope that we will be successful and knowledgeable people, not just to get a certificate.

If the excuse is that students will fail due to the PPSMI, this is even more ridiculous.

Is it not the responsibility and duty of the student to alter his study strategies and double their efforts in school based on the curriculum set ?

Hypocrites are at large. True language fighters will not ask for the PPSMI to be scrapped. They will instead urge the Government to increase the minimum grade of the languages necessary to pass the SPM to be increased from the current P8 to C5 or C6.

I do not know how the Education Ministry can reason out against Tun Dr Mahathir's stand on PPSMI

Gemini said...

From Raja Petra Kamarudin's Blog :

And why do I think that English should not be taught in Bahasa Malaysia? Well, maybe this circular from one of Malaysia’s leading universities would explain everything.


Dear Sport Friends,

Regarding about the global issue H1N1 happens around the world, sadly to be informing that our UiTM International Sports Fiesta will be postponing to 19-23 November 2009.

For all teams which have been confirm to participate in our events, we have to say sorry for this announcements and our Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Health also advise to us to change the date for this current situation.

By the date have been confirm incoming this November hopefully your teams still can participate in our event and don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

And again, we would like to say sorry about the date change for the sake of our health among us.

See you in this November at UiTM Malaysia!!


Mr. Mustaza Ahmad
Sports Centre
Universiti Teknologi MARA

Malaysia Classifieds said...

We receive this news with sadness.
We just can not express how disappointed we are and people are sharing this same concern via sms, phone and coffee talk.

How can we progress and compete in this global economy without equipping ourselves with English? Employers are already unhappy with the batch of new graduates not able to communicate well in English, not able to write a decent letter in their life.

As a parent, I am truly embarassed to learn our neighbour countries have better English speaking students as compared to our children.

Without fear or favour, we all should again read Tun M regarding the importance of English. Source:

With great disappointment,

Chu Kong Ming (朱刚明) said...

I felt sad with what happened to our education policy before, and is now relieved to know that the policy seems to have changed for the 'right' path or direction; however, we've yet to see it's being implemented, hopefully, in the appropriate way as we expected.

Politicians must ensure that this policy is realized so that our country and its peoples are not 'sacrificed or wasted' again for the so-called 'Nationalism'.

Bleh said...

The problem is the chinese extremists... I mean educationists. If we want to go BM, then we should go BM all the way. None of this vernacular nonsense. It's either all or nothing, not some halfassed midpoint.

I swear said...

Dr Chua,

It is a BIGGGG mistake to teach Maths and Science in Chinese and BM. The problem is the quality of our teachers and their competency in English, not teaching Maths and Science in English.

Anyway, congratulations for making sure that our children and grandchilren are no good in "England". I hope you are happy.

D'evil said...

The education system is so screwed up that nothing will work in Malaysia. The country will have to go back to basic and work with what is available - uncommitted and bad teachers. We just to go back to the common denominator.

Please. No more Vision2020 and Knowledge workers dreams. Until the teachers problem is fixed. We have the blind leading the blind. said...

For Primary - I do prefer teaching in BM and mother tongue in vernacular school.

For Secondary - it will be best to teach in English, well prepare the student to enter university

Anonymous said...

Exactly my thoughts, Fenella. We have English-speaking retirees and expats at our disposal.Why not use them? Better, why wasn't there better planning to begin with? This whole thinghas been a waste oftime and money. OUR MONEY, mind you!

Unknown said...

Dear Dr Chua,

I disagree with your comments and it is indeed a very shameful flip flop education policies in Malaysia today.

The new Minister of Education has denied many smart and talented Malaysian students of their constitution rights on their education:-

(a) Abolish the independence of students' rights to take more subjects in their national SPM examination by way of Ministry of Education imposed a maximum of 10 subjects are allowed. The excuses given by the Ministry is disgraceful and unacceptable. Why must BN govt denied Malaysian smart students to excel in their studies by scoring more than 21As in SPM exam to break the World Record ? If the lazy students in national type schools are unable to cope with more than 10 subjects as compared with the other private schools, then why BN goons punished the hardworking and smart students to restrict their desire to score more As in SPM exam.

(b) Abolish the teaching of Science and Maths in English will cause more Malaysian students less competence and poor in scientific knowledge to compete in the globalised world. Yes, Malaysia will move back to agriculture industries and closed down more high tech and biotech industries in future since we have lack of professionals and specialists trained in English medium. The Minister is wrong to compare an apple (urban) with an orange (rural) students for their failures in both subjects in English. It is the weaknesses and shortfall of the Ministry of Education to upgrade the English standard of their teachers and educators as well as poor allocation of training funds for the rural teachers to learn English subject. Dont expect foreign investors to invest their billions in high tech industries and professional services here when Malaysia cant offered more English educated workforce ready to serve them.

Last but not least, if BN goons continue to rule Malaysia using many flip flop corrupted policies for the next 10 years, then Dr M's VISION 2020 to ensure Malaysia achieve a develop nation is a "DREAM" only, whereas Malaysians will become a poor African nation in year 2020 when Malaysians suffer from poor English educated, high crime rate, high corruptions, high croniysm, high abuse of power, injustice, mismanagement, social unrest, etc in our multiracial nation.

Well, BN goons are arrogant and proud with their KETUANAN MELAYU,
1MALAYSIA, NEP and MALAYSIA BOLEH concepts. Unfortunately, the world communities are laughing at Malaysians for choosing their overstayed and outdated BN leaders to rule Malaysia again.

Thanks for publishing my frankly speaking comments here.

Best regards,


Mike said...

This is a sad and absolutely backward decision by the Ministry.

Just image your kid studying math & science in Chinese / Tamil then convert to Malay in Secondary and then convert again to English in University. Three languages ! You think they can master the subject well?

Try to learn the terminology in both Malay and English is very often confuse enough even for adult like me

Helicopter vs. Helikopter
Ferry vs. Feri
Science vs. Sain ?

No wonder most of our local graduates now a day cannot write / speak proper English. Just look at some of the notices issued by the University Officer.

Sometime I really feel sorry for the students today, because they are being treated like genius pigs as all of Ministries are run by Politicians rather than actual professional like down south.

Dr M is a foresighted leader, I don’t agreed with many of the things he implemented but this Math and Science in English is a correct & visionary decision. People learn the subject once, but we Malaysia boleh have to learn it three times in three languages. You think our students can then master the subject well. The actual problems is the quality of the teachers and not the capacity of the students. Period….

I spoke to parents who was screaming hysterically yesterday after they heard this news. They were extremely unhappy and disappointed.

Now groups are talking about teaching Math and Science in BM in University. What is next?

Dr.Alvin Lee Chow Hui said...

Some urban parents are not happy about this news. I think to implement any policy, the most important is the person who execute it. Teachers need to be train. If the teacher barely able to speak proper English, how they are going to teach our kids?

I was the old product of Sekolah Kebangsaan during 1980-1990 which all books stressing in Bahasa Malaysia. Frankly speaking, I only picked up my English skill during my college time. Government has to make sure that the teachers are well trained or else, we will see another failed policy.

Alvin Lee

eddy said...

Education for our young in Malaysia has once again been sacrificed on the altars of political expediency.I do not believe for one minute that the cancellation of the PPSMI has got nothing to do with politics. It is inconceivable that just a little over 6 years a study could be made to show that it is a failure. I agree that the PPMSI has weaknesses in its implementation especially the teachers needs further training to speak english fluently, so, the teachers needs to be trained but no need to take the extreme step of cancelling the PPMSI altogether, we are actually moving steps back and ultimately handicapping ourselves when competing for FDIs against our neighbors in the not so distant future.

I GOOGLED the following words:
sains, science, matematik bahasa melayu, mathematics and the results are as follows:

sains 14.1 million results;
science 1 Billion results;

matematik bahasa melayu 192,000 results;
mathematics 134 Million results.

Just simple GOOGLE will show that it would be more useful and beneficial and VERY important for our children to learn Mathematics and Science in the English Language.

Even though Muhyiddin say there should not be any appeal, I hope that the Ministry of Education would consider reinstating PPMSI as additional to the now agreed teaching of Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and Tamil.

Give Malaysian Parents the choice of what language they want their children to study Mathematics and Science. This country should not be held to ransom by the language extremists whether they are Malay Sasterawans,Gapena or the Chinese and Tamil educationist movement who threathens BN with deprivation of political votes if their demands are not met. Our children cannot earn good living or contribute to the future of this country just by reciting the sastera melayu or mandarin and tamil poems only, we need technorats, professionals versed in English and their mother tongue also to compete in this increasing globalised world.

When it is about the best education that our children should have for their secured and independent future, I say politics be damned.

So I hope that the decision to cancel the PPSMI be revisited and the views of the PARENTS who wants PPMSI for their children, and they are also a huge voters bank in the coming GE, are thoroughly considered as the consequence would be bad on the BN as I know that Pakatan will promise to introduce PPMSI as additional to the teaching of science and matematics in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and Tamil. Don't believe? watch and see and cry BN leaders.

Unknown said...

Dato' go read Dato' Ti's blog.. in OKT it is the "AGGRESSIVE Minority over the SILENT Majority" and this issue is no different. My opinion of this reversal is, its for political expediency and your opinion supporting it, I'm sure, is also political.

jacklynh88 said...

i have a sister studying in standard 2 now who can master her Science and Mathematics in English far well and better than in Chinese and it doesn't affect her to master the language of all three..

one of the reason she could do better in English is it is easier to read and write in it..

next would be her elder sister in the family is studying Science and Mathematics terms and jargons in English as well..

what is the matter of teaching science and maths in english as they are going to learn it in english as well when they pursue their degree in uni..

i strongly think that learning science and maths in english has nothing to do with mastering the mother tongue and national language..

we should not treat those innocent kids like a experimental hamster to satisfy the traits of LAZY to changes adults..

although i am just 21, i know that we should build a better life for our next generations..
not exploiting their life just to make our generations comfortable..

呉 和豪 said...

Comrade Dato Seri Chua

作為一名馬來西亞孩子的父親我認為在小學以母語教數理科目是非常應該的,原因是大多數的馬來西亞的孩子從幼小就開始用母語與父母溝通,因此在小學時就應該以母語學習。從我觀察幼兒學習當中,我發現到母語就是幼兒與自然溝通的語言,在講母語環境中成長的小孩,沒有人教導也 能自己懂得新的詞匯, 新的句子,而且學習的速度,遠比大人快。

以我个人求学及但家教的经验来判断,用国语来教导初中的數理科目对于馬來西亞多数的学生是好的, 原因是多数的学生是比较是接近国语于英语,而且并不是每个家庭都有能力让他们的孩子補习。我念完華小之后就進入國民型華文中學讀書,當時我們是以英語學習數理科目,對我來說初初學習相當難,我比较有运气因为我的家长关注我的学业,他们肯勤劳工作让我補习。我有一些小学同學因为家境不好,因為跟不上而對學習失去興趣之后就退學。因此我也認為從初中一就開始以英語教導數理未必是对于馬來西亞多数的学生是好的。

如勉強從初中一就開始以英語教導數理,可能會造成兩種局面, 那就是惡補現相使到學生沒有時間玩而招致壓力, 与及學生無法跟上而退學。

我熱愛我的母語,我也熱愛我國的國語馬來文,馬來文與世界上的主要語言如日本語一樣,馬來語的詞匯不斷的增加,而且還吸收許多的外來語,是先進的語言因此 我深信馬來文绝对可以有效地用來教導數理。


我不是教育权威, 只想提供一些意见让大家参考。但我们实行的教育制度应该是惠及全民的教育,使到每一个人都能发挥他们的智能

呉 和豪 said...

Comrade Dato Seri Chua Soi Lek
Sebagai seorang pengajar di institute pengajiaan awan , saya sangat bersetuju dengan cadangan oleh PRESIDENT MCA Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat untuk mengekalkan pengajaran matapelajaran Sains dan Mathematiks di Sekolah Menangah Atas (Tingkatan 4 dan5). Berdasarkan pengalaman saya selama 12 tahun , penuntut KOLEJ yang pernah belajar Sains dan Matematiks , dapat mengikuti dan memahami matapelajaran teknikal dengan lebih baik. Jikalau seseorang penutut KOLEJ tak pernah pelajari Sains dan Matematiks dalam Bahasa Inggeris disekolah menengah , salah satu masaalah yang dia akan hadapi ialah kesukaran bagi dia untuk menulis lapuran Makmal dalam Bahasa Inggeris di kolej.
Sebagai seorang ayah kepada budak Malaysia , saya berpendapat Matapelajaran Sains dan Matematiks patut diajar dalam Bahasa bonda diperingkat sekolah rendah.Sebab utama nya ialah anak anak berkomunikasi dengan ibubapa dalam Bahasa Bonda sejak lahir. Dan berpandukan pemerhatian saya terhadap pertumbuhan kanak kanak saya dapati Bahasa Bonda sebenarnya bahasa yang digunakan oleh anak kecil untuk berkomunikasi dengan alam semesta, bagi kanak kanak yang bertumbuh dibawa SUASANA BAHASA BONDA, mereka dapat mempelajari perkataan baru , ayat baru tanpa diajar , malah jauh lebih cepat dari orang dewasa
Berdasarkan pengalaman saya sebagai penutut dan guru bimbingan , saya dapati pengajaran matapelajaran sains dan matematiks dalam Bahasa Kebangsaan pada peringkat Sekolah Menengah Rendah(Tingkatan 1 sampai Tingkat 3) adalah baik untuk semua penutut.Kerana kebanyakan daripada Penuntut adalah lebih cenderung kepada pengunaan Bahasa Melayu daripada Bahasa Inggiris.Lagi pun bukan lah semua keluarga berkemampuan untuk menghatar anak anak mereka ke Kelas Tuisyen
Selepas menamatkan pelajaran saya di Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan China , saya meneruskan pelajaran saya di Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan China , masa itu kami mempelajari Matapelajaran Sains dan Matematiks dalam Bahasa inngiris pada permulaannya saya mengalami kesukaran untuk mengikuti sain dan matematiks , tetapi ibubapa saya sanggup bekerja keras untu membiayai belanjaan Tuisyen, kawan kawan saya yang kurang bernasib terpaksa meninggalkan sekolah disebabkan oleh penguasaan bahasa inggiris mereka yang lemak. Oleh yang demikian saya berpendapat bahawa penggunaan Bahasa Kebangsaan bagi mengajar Matapelajaran Sains dan Matematiks di sekolah Menengah rendah adalah baik unuk semua murid di Malaysia.
Kalau kita meneruskan pengajaran Matapelajaran Sains dan Matematiks dalam Bahasa Inggiris tanpa mengambil kira keadaan yang sebenar , dua kemungkinan akan berlaku , 1)murid murid terpaksa ambil
Kelas tuisyen yang banyak ,dan tidak ada masa untuk bermain dan seterus merasai ketegangaan
,2)Kes Cicir Sekolah dan LEPAKyang Tinggi.

Saya cintakan Bahasa Bonda Saya , Saya juga Cintakan Bahasa Kebangsaan , iaitu Bahasa Melayu. Seperti Bahasa utama yang lain seperti Bahasa Jepun, Bahasa Melayu adalah Bahasa yang Dinamik , perkataan Baru bertambah dari masa ke semasa , banyak terminology asing diserapkan . Oleh itu sebagai Bahasa yang Progressif Bahasa Melayu boleh digunakan untuk pengajaran sains dan Matematik s secara berkesan. Malah adalah tanggungjawab bagi kita untuk memperluas kan pengunaan Bahasa Malaysia. Ini tidak bermaksud kita mesti mengetepikan Bahasa Ingiriris , patut kita ingat buat masa ini kita masih bergantung kepada pengimportan Teknologi dari Luar Negara
Saya juga tak bersetuju yang murid murid yang gagal dalam matapelajaran Inggiris dan Matematiks tak akan diberikan SPM. Kerana seseorang manusia biasa mempunyai beberapa jenis Inetelek ,Intiligience Lingustic dan Inteligience Matematik Logik Cuma adalah dua dari inteligience yang setiap manusia ada.
Saya bukan lah pakar yang terkemuka dalam bidang pendidikan , Cuma nak berkongsi pendapat dengan semua. Pada pendapat saya system Pendikan Negara mesti lah dibina untuk memanfaatkan setiap rakyat dan membolehkan setiap orang untuk mengembangkan potensi mereka.

Unknown said...

SL, in all your years of schooling, from primary to medical school, the medium of instruction was English. You ought to know better why the English language is used to teach Maths & Science. I need not elaborate further for you know the answer.
I would like to suggest you read the article by Farish A Noor, "The World does Not Owe Us A Living." Perhaps this article will enlighten you on the need to continue the use of English to teach these subjects.

Gummie said...

This country has certainly no direction. A person with NO education background can become an Education Minister.

Please look at Singapore's cabinet. All their ministers are graduated from related field and they have masters degree or PHD and certainly not some people who come from kampung, whose mindset is still in kampung, can't even speak proper English and STILL can become MINISTERS... AMAZING!!!

Unknown said...

learning science and maths in enlish doesn't mean that someone has forgot their "bahasa ibunda".
our parents or grandparents last time also learning english and they don't face any difficulties.
if we compare our parents with those who have phd,I think our parents are more.... you know that...
but now those who study in the U sometimes do not know the meaning of some terms in english...

MagM said...

If MCA really cares for us Chinese, it would not make this stupid decision. It is all about politics and it is destroying our kids. I have friends who migrated to Australia and New Zealand because of this stupid policy. I would too, if I have the means. For once, do the right thing for us. Then, maybe, MCA might stay relevant to us.

Welcome to my Blog

As a concerned MCA member, I am trying my best to help in the process of rebuilding and repositioning of the party.

Therefore, I welcome party members and members of public to post your constructive suggestions and opinions on my blog on how to rebuild and reform the party, eventually enabling MCA to regain support from all party members and the community.

Thank you for your suggestions.