Saturday): It is
most unfortunate that the proposal for the use of English to teach mathematics
and science has been treated as a “political football” by the Barisan
Nasional component parties instead of being addressed seriously as an
People’s Progressive Party is the latest Barisan Nasional component party to
come out publicly in support of the proposal for all primary schools, national,
Chinese and Tamil, without any
sound educational reason, as its primary objective is more to send the message
to the UMNO leadership that it is the most dependable component party in the
Barisan Nasional on this issue, unlike the others, such as SUPP, which after
publicly declaring its support for the use of English to teach mathematics and
science in Chinese primary schools has started to waffle, or MCA and Gerakan
which have developed a split personality in their public stands and private
the Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Ministry, Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir
claimed in Penang
that a high-level committee comprising the Education Ministry director
general, educationists and linguistic experts had done an in-depth study of the
proposal before the Cabinet approval on July 19.
so, DAP calls on the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to make public the Abdul Rafie Committee Report for study and
debate by the public, in view of the strong views held by educationists like
former University of Malaya Vice Chancellors, Royal Professor Ungku Aziz,
Professor Dr. Syed Hussain Alatas and the President of
Malaysian Islamic Science Academy (Asasi) Dr. Shaharir Mohamad Zain, that
studies worldwide have shown that the best way for pupils at the primary level
to master their studies is for the knowledge to be channeled through their respective mother-tongues.
very clear that the Abdul Rafie Committee had not solicited the views and inputs
of Chinese and Tamil educationists before making their recommendation to use
English to teach mathematics and science in Chinese and Tamil primary schools
– which explain the unanimous opposition of Chinese educational bodies like
Dong Jiao Zong as well as Tamil educationists in a meeting of a group of Tamil
school headmasters, teachers and parents organized by the Malaysian Tamil
Educational Research Development Foundation in
Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
said that the move to use English to teach mathematics and science in all
schools should not be construed as indicating failure in the country’s
education policy. He said current and future trends in the international scene
indicate growing emphasis in the electronics and information, communications and
asked: “We are talking about Digital Divide and the ICT era. Must we be left
behind just because we had refused to learn English?”.
was being most irresponsible in refusing the understand that there is full
support for efforts to raise English proficiency in all primary schools, whether
primary, Chinese or Tamil, and for Malaysians to be bi-lingual or trilingual.
The issue in contention is
whether the proposal to use English to teach mathematics and science in
primary schools from Std. One is educationally sound and a good idea – or
whether it is educationally most controversial and questionable as it
might lead to the decline in the academic standards of the pupils in all
the three subjects.
Mahadzir for instance explain what is the educational
justification to use English to teach mathematics and science when
Chinese primary schools in Penang scored 71% and 69.1% pass rates in the
Std V Assessment Test in 1971 as compared to 58.8% and 57.4% for English primary
schools for both subjects respectively, and when Chinese primary schools now
average over 90% and 80% pass rates for both these subjects?
1972, I had asked the then Education Minister, then Datuk Hussein Onn, for the
comparative results of the various streams of primary schools for the Std. V
Assessment Test in 1971 for the various subjects, and the results for the Penang
primary schools were as follows:
Percentage rate of failures for Penang primary school pupils in 1971 Std. V Assessment Test
the past 30 years, the academic attainments of Chinese primary schools in all
the three subjects of mathematics, science and English have improved even
further when compared to national primary schools, averaging over 90% and 80%
passes respectively for mathematics and science, as shown by the UPSR results in
2000 as given in the Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010, viz:
Mata Pelajaran SK, SJKC dan SJKT dalam UPSR Tahun 2000
of focusing solely on the proposal to use
English to teach mathematics and science as the only means to raise
English proficiency in the primary schools, the time has come for the Cabinet to
think of more effective ways to raise the standard of English not only in
Chinese primary schools, but also for national and Tamil primary schools.
is no disagreement whether among political parties in government and opposition,
or in the Malaysian civil society, including Chinese and Tamil educational
bodies, on the urgent need for a special programme to check the decline in the
standard of English in schools and universities, and the Government should be
seeking consensus instead of trying to force a showdown on the issue.
this reason, the Cabinet on Wednesday should seriously and urgently decide on
convening an all-political party and educational organizations roundtable
conference to consider the most effective way to raise English proficiency in
the primary schools, without jeopardizing the academic attainments in
mathematics, science and English.