Have Maths, Science in BM at primary only
Published on: Sunday, August 11, 2019

IT is heartening and encouraging to know that the Education Ministry is studying the feasibility of bringing back the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English policy (more popularly known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym PPSMI).

I was personally involved in the implementation of the earlier PPSMI and witnessed its progress and final demise. Having noted the pros and cons for the policy expressed back then and in recent days, I think PPSMI should only begin in Form One. This means the subjects will be taught in BM in national primary schools and in the respective vernacular languages in national-type primary schools.

Riding on the conviction that these two subjects are best learned first in a language most familiar to the young learners, it is to be expected that by the time they finish primary schooling, they would have a sound grounding in the Science and Maths contents and materials at that level.

English as a subject should be introduced at the earliest possible time, even in Year One, with the aim that after six years of intensive study, the pupils would be ready to take on English instruction in other subjects when they enter Form One.

Most of our secondary schools are in urban or semi urban areas. We can no longer harp on the urban-rural divide as a reason for not pushing English as a medium of instruction, more so if all primary pupils are to go through six years of intensive English language learning.

I remember the days when those who were from vernacular school, myself included, entered English secondary school. We had to slog it out with lots of hard work and discipline before we could find ourselves on track again in the study of all other subjects. Those who did not work hard failed and did not progress to Form Four.

I am not advocating that the present pupils must go through the same hardship. That’s why I’m proposing for intensive English courses to be taught to primary school pupils to get them ready for the challenges ahead and to spare them the agony.

With Science and Maths to be taught in BM or vernacular languages in primary schools and in English only in secondary schools, planning for teacher-training would be much easier and systematic.

Examination papers for the subjects need not be bilingual as it is now. Pupils who learn Science and Maths in English in primary school would not have to worry that they may not be able to get into a secondary school which also teaches the subjects in English. This is the case with the present DLP (Dual Language Programme). English teachers for Science and Maths have a problem in postings as they may have only DLP schools to choose from.

Nevertheless, credit must be given to the DLP for providing a link to the PPSMI.

I hope the ministry will make a decision on reviving PPSMI soon enough. We should initiate its implementation at primary and secondary schools as early as next year or latest in 2021. We can improvise and improve along the way with technological aids.

Ministry officials, teachers, parents and pupils must be steadfastly committed to making PPSMI a success if it is implemented again.


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