English for Science and Math Subjects: A Hasty Political Move?

Published by on Feb 03, 2020, 03:57 pm

Kuala Lumpur: The Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (also known by its Malay acronym, PPSMI) is making a comeback and according to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, its coming back for a good reason too.

“It (Science and Mathematic subjects) comes from abroad. And most of it comes to us in English,” justifies the acting Minister of Education on why it’s vital the PPSMI is reintroduced. It makes sense.

It’s always much easier to access additional information of the subjects in English than it is in Malay since for most students, Google is their preferred choice of search engine for practically everything.

Plus, English is undoubtedly the language used in the working field as well as on an international level. Therefore, it is only reasonable that students learn the subjects in its native language in order to compete with the rest of the world.

But when we think of this realistically, how will the students (and teachers) cope with the sudden change of instructional language?

English is important, that has always been acknowledged. Yet the biggest and oldest criticism of PPSMI is that it does not consider students from rural areas, in addition to lack of proficient staff.



In fact, Permuafakatan Badan Ilmiah Nasional (PEMBINA) conducted a 2009 study titled “Teacher’s Competency Level in PPSMI and its Implications on Student’s Capital Development”. This study involved 15, 098 participants from different streams as well as economical background. Their findings? Only 4%of the students recorded to have achieved English language proficiency.

This criticism then became the reason it was abolished in 2012 by the previous government.

But the previous government’s decision was criticized for being a political move, yet so is the current government’s recent announcement to revitalize PPSMI. So, where do we go from there?

It is incredibly important that the students’ interest is taken into consideration when it comes to education. What will benefit them in the long run without affecting their current learning process? Perhaps it’s smarter to ensure the current system is effective instead of making hasty decisions?

Whatever it is, our student’s education should stop being the government’s play tool for their political agendas. The worst case scenario is another change of government for the next general election, and PPSMI is once again abolished.

And if that happens, the country’s education will again be seen as a joke.

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