Challenge to Hon Choon Kam to name countries which have successfully raised English proficiency by using it to teach mathematics and science from the first year of primary school, failing which, all the nine new periods in the “2-4-3” plan should be devoted to teaching English
- at the Public Dialogue on “DAP’s 1-2-3 Formula and the Barisan Nasional 2-4-3 proposal for use of English to teach maths and science in Std. One in primary schools”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Bukit Mertajam, Thursday): Before coming here, I saw the on-line report of a statement earlier today by MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kam in Seremban that the Education Ministry had specially introduced nine periods of English for Std. One in Chinese primary schools from zero with the primary objective of strengthening the English proficiency of the students in Chinese primary schools.
Hon said that previously, Chinese primary schools only start teaching English in Std. Three but from next year there will be nine English periods for Std. One – the “2-4-3” plan, i.e. two periods for English, four periods using English to teach mathematics and three periods using English to teach science.
DAP fully supports the raising of English proficiency in the country to reverse the sharp drop of English standards in Malaysia as a result of a misguided, short-sighted and disastrous education policy in the past three decades which had adversely affected Malaysia’s international competitiveness by undermining the country’s attractiveness as an international investment centre.
This is why the DAP has publicly advocated the “1-2-3” Formula, firstly to strengthen English proficiency, secondly maintain the traditional high standards of Chinese primary schools in mathematics and science, and thirdly, preserve mother-tongue proficiency.
What we strongly disagree, however, is the use of English to teach mathematics and science from the first year of primary school, as this goes against all educational principles and nowhere in the world has English been used to teach mathematics and science from the first year of primary education in order to raise English proficiency. The “2-4-3” formula will not only fail to raise English proficiency but be of no help to raise the standards of mathematics and science.
I challenge Hon to name countries which have successfully raised English proficiency by using it as medium of instruction for mathematics and science from the first year of primary school.
DAP is prepared to support the “2-4-3” plan if the Education Ministry can present a convincing case that this is the most effective and tested way to achieve the “1-2-3” objective of strengthening English, maintaining the traditionally high standards of mathematics and science in Chinese primary schools and preserve mother-tongue proficiency.
If Hon and the Education Ministry cannot present any such convincing case, then the government should reconsider the “2-4-3” plan and if the 50-period-a-week for Std. One primary schools cannot be reduced to a more manageable workload, then DAP proposes that all the nine new periods in the 2-4-3 plan be devoted to teaching English in Chinese primary schools – which would undoubtedly produce a quantum leap in English proficiency for Chinese primary school students, while maintaining the traditional high standards in mathematics and science!
This will in fact be an acid test as to whether Hon and Barisan Nasional leaders are sincere and genuine when they claim that the “2-4-3” plan for Std. One pupils in Chinese primary schools next year is to raise their English proficiency – as there can be no better and more effective way to raise the English proficiency of the students than to devote all the new nine periods solely to teaching English!
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman