Science, maths will be in English again: Mahathir
Published on: Saturday, February 01, 2020
By: Bernama
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File photo from Bernama.
Kuala Lumpur: The Education Ministry will revert to the policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in English, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) said.

The Prime Minister and acting Education Minister said it was crucial for the two subjects to be taught in English as that was the native language for both disciplines.

Dr Mahathir added that it was essential for education policy to be geared towards equipping students with the necessary skills to be productive in their adult lives, and to consider Malaysia’s multiracial and multicultural background.

“We must promote the mastery of English in our education system – this is very important –  that we must give time for learning English, in particular in the learning of Science and Mathematics,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said it was less critical to expand the policy to subjects such as Geography and History as these did not have an “indigenous language”.

“It comes from abroad. Most of it comes to us in English, therefore we have to use English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also observed that those who studied Science in Malay would later find it difficult to work where English was required.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that the country and the people would like to see reforms in the country’s education policy.

“I have been having these ideas about the role of education in the development of our country...I’ve noticed certain weaknesses which need to be attended to. So I would like to put on record my views on education so that we can work together to achieve (them),” he said.

“Of course, my views are not always popular or not always acceptable to many people, but I feel that I need to push certain things to make sure that our children grow up and find themselves able to tackle the problems of adult life. That is the purpose of education,” Dr Mahathir said.

He said that certain problems arise from the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial country, but this is also something that can contribute to the development of the country.

“In fact, much of the development of this country is based on the good working relations between the different races. 

If the country is not stable, if we are at war, you can forget about development,” he said. 

The policy for teaching Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) was among Dr Mahathir’s final policies before he left office as the fourth Prime Minister.

It was pioneered in 2003 to mixed reactions before being eventually implemented at all stages of the national school system in 2007.

However, it was dismantled by the previous Barisan Nasional administration in 2012.

The Education Minister at the time, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, introduced a replacement policy to “Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and to Strengthen the English language” (MBMMBI).

Detractors of the reversal alleged that MBMMBI was meant to appease Malay nationalists ahead of the 13th general election.


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