Dong Jiao Zong right and correct in opposing the teaching of mathematics and science in English in Chinese primary schools beginning next year and calls on Education Ministry to have special programme to raise standards of English in Chinese primary schools

Media Conference Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Malacca, Wednesday): Dong Jiao Zong is right and correct in opposing the teaching of mathematics and science in English in Chinese primary schools beginning next year as unlikely to raise the standards of mathematics, science or English in the process. 

This stand has been vindicated by the Education Ministry’s 10-Year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010, which had given the following comparative performance  in the UPSR in 2000 in the three subjects by the national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools: 

Jadual 2.6

Prestasi Mata Pelajaran SK, SJKC dan SJKT dalam UPSR Tahun 2000 






ABC(%)   DE(%)

ABC(%)   DE(%)

ABC(%)    DE(%)

Bahasa Inggeris

56.7          43.4

63.2           36.8

45.6            54.4


75.2          24.8

91.2            8.8

73.9            26.1


77.5          22.5

83.8            16.2

73.8            26.2


From these data from the  Examinations Board, Chinese primary school pupils excel in all the three UPSR subjects in English, Mathematics and Science as compared to pupils from national and Tamil primary schools. 

Chinese primary school Std. VI students scored a very high percentage of 91.2% in Mathematics and 83.8% science in the mastery of these subjects, and the onus is on the Education Ministry to convince educationists, teachers, parents and pupils that the introduction of the  teaching of English in these two subjects can further raise student attainments in  mathematics and science, and not the other way round – causing a drastic fall in student performance not only in mathematics and science, but also in English as well. 

The introduction of the teaching of English in mathematics science from next year, without any proper preparation or infrastructural support does not make any educational sense and is most likely to lead to the triple disaster of further fall in the performance of national primary school pupils in mathematics, science and English. 

The Education Ministry should give serious consideration to the Dong Jiao Zong memorandum  to the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad that the use of English in Mathematics and Science will not necessarily help to improve the language proficiency and that the weak command of English is in fact related to how the subject is taught. 

Dong Jiao Zong sent a three-page memorandum to the Education Minister last Monday with copies to MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr.  Ling Liong Sik, Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr.  Lim Keng Yaik and the SUPP President Datuk Seri Amar Dr. George Chan.

The special Cabinet meeting  originally scheduled for yesterday to discuss the proposal of the committee headed by the Education Ministry’s director-general Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English and determine its implementation in schools next year had been  postponed to Friday because of the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections – which is a most irresponsible way of managing the educational future of the country.

Musa should explain why he is so stubborn in refusing to make public the Abdul Rafie recommendations before the special Cabinet meeting on Friday  to give the Cabinet Ministers the benefit of public feedback – when most of the same Cabinet Ministers had been responsible for the disastrous decline of English in schools, universities and the national life, seriously undermining Malaysia’s national competitiveness.

In fact, in the  10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 which was announced by Musa last October, the problem of the  deplorable decline of English standards in the schools and universities was not given top priority – which is a fatal flaw of the 10-year education blueprint.

While the wisdom of precipitately introducing the teaching of English for mathematics and science is challenged, there is no doubt that parents of pupils in Chinese primary schools would want to see the further improvement of English standards – and this is why the Education Ministry should set up a special task force with representation from Dong Jiao Zong to recommend measures to raise English proficiency among Chinese primary school pupils without jeopardizing their  academic performance in mathematics and science or affecting the character of Chinese primary schools.

The same applies to the national and Tamil primary schools. What the Cabinet should decide on Friday is to adopt a national policy to enhance the standards  of English in the country, not only in schools and universities  but also among the general population, giving approval for “Master English” initiatives - like the proposed “English Day” in Selangor every Thursday where the whole state government, from the office boy to the Mentri besar, are encouraged to talk, converse, discuss and meet in English to promote the language among the people.

But how to raise English proficiency in schools and universities should be left in the hands of educators and professionals and not be regarded as a political problem to be decided by Cabinet Ministers.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman