English in schools: learn from the past, says group

PETALING JAYA: An education pressure group has urged the government to make proper preparations before trying to revive the use of English to teach mathematics and science in national schools.

A previous attempt had failed because there were not enough teachers adequately proficient in English proficiency to teach both the subjects, said Tunku Munawirah Putra, secretary of the Parent Action Group for Education.

She said the government should learn from past mistakes.

English was used to teach science and mathematics two decades ago during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first stint as prime minister. The policy was abandoned in 2012 after the government said student grades had not improved.

In an interview with the New Straits Times, Mahathir said the government was in the midst of re-introducing English for science and mathematics.

But Tunku Munawirah said “we do not have enough teachers of that calibre”

When the policy was introduced in 2003, schools were given CDs for use in lessons, but many schools and teachers did not use them because of faulty equipment or lack of time: some of the classes only lasted half an hour.

Munawirah said the current Dual Language Programme should be expanded to all schools with the resources and a programme put in place to continually train teachers.

Munawirah said her group agrees with Mahathir that Islamic studies should be revamped.

Mahathir had said that some schools only emphasised rituals. “That is what they emphasise. If you don’t perform this ritual, you go to hell’. But what is important about Islam, in particular, is the way of life. When you say way of life, that means certain values. These values are not taught. In fact, the teacher himself doesn’t know,” Mahathir was quoted as saying.