MUAR: The Cabinet will decide today (8 July 2009) on the use of English to teach Mathematics and Science, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said he would table a paper on the matter to the Cabinet, which would then decide on it.
“Whatever its decision, it will not be due to pressure from any party or groups and it should not be viewed as politically inclined.
“The Education Ministry has carried out studies and I will table the results before the Cabinet tomorrow,” Muhyiddin said after attending the Gerak Bakti UPSR programme here.
“While we decide on the use of English in the teaching of the subjects, we also need to look out for our children’s future,” he added yesterday.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said he had met and compiled views from various groups and non-governmental organisations on the matter, among them former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said all views would be submitted to the Cabinet, adding that it would not decide hastily and would give importance to the needs of students and the country’s educational system.
“Tomorrow evening, I will outline in detail the ways for English to be taught. The Cabinet decision will be final,” he added.
Sources familiar with the decision said that Muhyiddin, who would meet the press after lunch, felt that it was time for a firm decision as the matter had dragged on long enough and a further delay would just “add to the confusion”.
There have been calls from various groups for the policy to revert to before 2003, when the subjects were taught in Bahasa Malaysia in national schools, and either in Chinese or Tamil in national-type schools.
The issue has seen a rare alliance between Malay and Chinese educationists, who are against the switch, although there are also calls by many parents and entrepreneurs for English to be maintained.
One ministry official said there were three ways for Muhyiddin, who had looked at all the arguments and found all sides had merit, to resolve the issue.
“Firstly, he could decide to maintain the present system and set another deadline for a further review. Secondly, he could reverse the medium of instruction to that of pre-2003.
“Thirdly, he could make the teaching of Mathematics and Science in primary school in Bahasa Malaysia and the vernacular languages, and in English for secondary schools,” said the official.
However, sources said the third option was the least likely as it would make it difficult for the students, who would already have a poor command of English.
They said Muhyiddin had expressed his disappointment with the standard of English taught in schools as he was well aware of its importance.
“Whatever the decision, improving the command of English will be given great importance,” said the official, adding that Muhyiddin would have to be mindful of the political implications of this issue before deciding.
It is a balancing act between the importance of the national language and the need to arm children with English to face the globalised world.