PERTH (Australia): Students who started studying Mathematics and Science in English can continue to do so until they finish their secondary school education.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he wanted to allay the concerns expressed by parents.
“The Cabinet discussed and agreed to this as some of my colleagues expressed their concerns about students who started studying the two subjects in English and would be in Years Four to Six, and Forms Four and Five when the new policy is implemented in 2012,” he told Malaysian media during a breakfast meeting at the end of his five-day working trip here. (He returned to Kuala Lumpur later in the evening.)
Muhyiddin who is Education Minister, said students who had started learning the two subjects in English would continue to be taught in English, and have the option of answering questions in either English or Bahasa Malaysia.
“This is what I meant by a “soft landing” as students will be given time to get used to the new policy,” he said.
When he announced last month that the Government had decided to reverse the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) policy and revert to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools and Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools, he stressed that the Government wanted a “soft landing”.
This, he added, was why the new policy would begin in 2012, as this would enable the ministry to have enough time to make the necessary preparations.
The reversal in policy means that from 2012 students in Years One and Four and Forms One and Four in national primary and secondary schools would study the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia while those in vernacular schools would be taught in their mother tongue (Chinese and Tamil).
The PPSMI policy was implemented in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003.
At the same time, Muhyiddin said some schools with “different situations” could start teaching the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, but with the condition that students continue to be given the option of answering questions in either language.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin apologised for the actions of the Federal Territory Education Department officers when asked about the 70 parents who found themselves locked out of SMK Seri Hartamas when they tried to convene an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to discuss the reversal of the PPSMI policy.
“I apologise to the parents as it is not fair to them. They want to discuss important questions and are doing so in a proper manner.
“They are not doing it in the streets,” he said.
He said the education department officers should allow the parent-teacher associations (PTA) to express their feelings as it was only fair for them to do so.
“I am not a dictator and the PTA can submit their memorandum or letter to me,” he said.
SMK Sri Hartamas PTA vice-chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said she and the others only wanted to express their views and not protest.
They had earlier obtained permission to hold the EGM at SMK Sri Hartamas but it was withdrawn on Friday resulting in the parents being forced to gather outside the school compound.
Muhyiddin said he was glad the PPSMI policy had benefited some students.
“They proved the policy could work but the problem is that it is isolated and (does) not (cater to) the whole country.
“I want to ask the community whether they think a flexible approach in a policy can be carried out,” he said.
On his meeting with Malaysian students in Perth, Muhyiddin said he had directed Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia Datuk Salman Ahmad and Consul-General of Malaysia to Western Australia Hamidah Ashari to look into the feasibility of setting up a Malaysian Students Department here.
“We need to know if we can afford it,” he said, adding there were 3,000 Malaysian students in Perth.