(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said yesterday
that the Government has yet to
decide on the use of English to teach Science and Mathematics in Chinese and
Tamil schools and that the matter will be discussed at the special Cabinet
Does this mean that the government has definitely decided on the use of English to teach science and mathematics for the national primary schools?
Can Musa explain why he is so stubborn in refusing to make
public the Abdul Rafie recommendations on the teaching of science and
mathematics in English to allow for
public feedback so that the special Cabinet meeting tomorrow can benefit from
the public input before taking a final decision?
took to task PAS for “politicizing” the use of English in the teaching of
science and mathematics in schools, but UMNO and Barisan Nasional are equally
guilty of the same sin, as otherwise, why should the special Cabinet meeting to
decide on the Abdul Rafie recommendations be affected by the Pendang and Anak
Bukit by-elections, to the extent the special Cabinet meeting
had to rescheduled from before to after the by-election polling today?
The precipitate introduction
of the teaching of English in mathematics and
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 the
collective fall in the performance
of national primary school pupils in mathematics, science and English.
Musa said yesterday that with regard to Chinese and Tamil
primary schools, all factors would be taken into account when implementing the
programme to use English in the teaching of science and mathematics.
He said these factors
include the shortage of English teachers, the rural and urban factor, science and mathematics being complex
subjects, shortage of information and communication technology (ICT) equipment if
this was to be used to help in the teaching of these two subjects and the
shortage of electricity in certain schools.
As far as Chinese primary schools are concerned, before
these factors are taken into consideration, there must be a clarity of the basic
concepts as to what is the purpose using English
to teach science and mathematics – whether it is to raise the standards of
science and mathematics or to raise the standard of English.
Is there a necessity to take such a drastic step as to
change the medium of instruction to raise the standards of science and
mathematics in the Chinese primary schools?
The following data from the 10-year Education Development
Blueprint (2001-2010) - kept as a secret document for the past 10 months
completely inaccessible to the ordinary public and even Members of Parliament -
on the comparative performance in the UPSR in 2000 in the three
subjects by the national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools, does not support
such a proposal:
Prestasi Mata Pelajaran SK, SJKC dan SJKT dalam UPSR Tahun 2000
|Pencapaian||ABC(%) DE(%)||ABC(%) DE(%)||ABC(%) DE(%)|
|63.2 36.8||45.6 54.4|
|Matematik||75.2 24.8||91.2 8.8||73.9 26.1|
|Sains||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.
There is undoubtedly a need to arrest the decline of standards of English in national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools, as highlighted by the low attainment of pass rate for the English language subject in the UPSR examination for the five years 1996-2000, as follows:
rate (percentage) - English
UPSR pass rate (percentage) - English
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
53.6 54.0 55.5
SJK© 66.9 70.3 63.9 62.8 63.2
SJK(T) 51.8 46.8 45.1 47.7 45.6
The use of English to teach science and mathematics is
neither the best nor the most sound
method to raise the standards of English in the Chinese primary schools,
and this is why DAP propose the
establishment of an Education Ministry special
task force, with representatives 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.
This is the decision the special Cabinet meeting tomorrow
should take with regard to raising the standards of English for the Chinese
primary schools – a special task force with Dong Jiao Zong representation to
raise standards of English in Chinese primary schools without using it to teach
mathematics and science.