PETALING JAYA: A Malay advocacy group and a teachers’ union have disputed a think tank’s findings that most Malaysians are supportive of the revival of science and mathematics being taught in English.
Malay Consultative Council spokesman Awang Sariyan said a study he had conducted with the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization in April last year had found a huge majority of respondents rejecting the programme, known as PPSMI.
He said 78.5% of respondents held that the two subjects should be taught in Bahasa Melayu.
Awang Sariyan’s finding is contrary to that reported by the Emir Research organisation which said on Friday that most Malaysians were supportive of the government’s proposal to revive PPSMI, based on a survey it conducted in November.
However, Sariyan contended that numerous other studies, including one by the education ministry itself, had pointed out the shortcomings of PPSMI.
“PPSMI has been confirmed to be a programme that was wrong which had failed from the aspects of policy, goals and execution,” he told FMT.
“Empirical studies had proven that English language skills did not improve, and in fact, the performance of students in science and mathematics had also dropped.”
He said mastery of English must be acquired through studying the English-language subject itself, and through better training of teachers, and with the right syllabus and study materials.
Awang, who is also an adviser to the Malaysian Linguistics Society, said Malaysia should emulate countries such as Germany, China, France, Korea and Japan, where science and mathematics are taught in their own languages.
“These countries did not put English aside, they even stressed its importance, but not to the extent of prioritising a foreign language from their own,” he added.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession president Aminuddin Awang said there were many other studies conducted which have shown that PPSMI would have negative effects on students, particularly those in the rural areas.
He told FMT that the input of teachers should be taken into account in studies on PPSMI as they had first-hand knowledge and experience on what actually happens when it’s implemented.
“Teachers know the problems that arose for students in Science and Mathematics when PPSMI was implemented,” he said.
Aminuddin said he is hoping for a holistic and empirical study to be conducted by academics on the matter while scrutinising the problems that arose the last time PPSMI was implemented.
He said the education ministry should instead strengthen the Dual Language Programme (DLP). “With DLP, only schools, teachers, students and parents who are really ready for it will be involved.”
PPSMI was introduced in 2003 for Year One in primary schools and Form One in secondary schools. The programme was abolished in 2013, and the DLP introduced in 2018, involving 22,960 children in primary and secondary schools.