PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) urged the government to learn from the past and not repeat mistakes if it decides to bring back the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).
NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said the government should be fully prepared and adopt a “bottom-up approach” in implementing the PPSMI.
“For parents who want their children to do maths and science in English, make it easier for them to enrol their children in schools that offer the Dual Language Programme (DLP).
“At the same time, concentrate on enhancing these schools,” Tan told FMT, adding that it was necessary for the government to address the shortage of English teachers at the moment.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the Dewan Rakyat today the education ministry was studying “in detail” the reintroduction of the policy which was first introduced in 2002.
He said the government was looking at a new system which would rely on the teaching of these two subjects in English through information technology, where lessons taught by the best teachers would be recorded and used in all schools.
The PPSMI policy was dropped in 2012 amid strong protest.
Tan said: “In the appointment of new teachers, we agree with the suggestion that maths and science teachers shall be bilingual and proficient in both our national language and English.
“It is our fervent appeal that we do not revisit the pain of yesteryears. Do not let it become political. Resolve operational issues and we can get somewhere.”
He said Putrajaya should address the need for more English teachers and provide more training and in-service courses for the teachers.
It was also important to ensure that officers in charge of the English departments must be the best and not merely proficient in the language, he said.
Educationist Freida Pilus, in welcoming the government’s intention to re-introduce PPSMI, said special attention should be given to rural schools and schools which had been left behind.
She said there was a need to train teachers properly in this field to ensure there would be no problem in implementing the programme.
“We need science and maths teachers to know the content. Then, all they need is to be proficient in English. All of this can be taught,” she said.
Fellow of Academy of Science Malaysia Madeline Berma said it was time to use English in the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
She said more allocations should be made available for the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the teaching and learning of STEM in English for rural students.
“The government must be willing to invest in the hardware (infrastructure and ICT) and software (quality, dedicated teachers, syllabus) to ensure the success of the teaching and learning of STEM in English,” she said.