The teaching and learning of science and mathematics in national schools will revert to the Malay language effective 2012.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the teaching and learning of the two subjects in Chinese and Tamil national-type schools would be carried out in their respective mother tongue.
Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said the cabinet today approved the suggestion by the ministry to empower the Malay language and strengthen the teaching and learning of the English language at all levels of schooling.
“This strategy was drawn up based on the study and monitoring carried out by the Education Ministry on the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English since the policy was implemented in 2003,” he said when making the announcement at the Education Ministry, here on Wednesday.
The first group of students who studied science and mathematics in the English language since Year One sat for their Ujian Penilian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) last year.
Muhyiddin said the implementation of the policy of using the Malay language in the teaching of the two subjects would be carried out in stages in Year One and Year Four in the primary school and Form One and Form Four in the secondary school beginning in 2012.
However, he said, the change would not involve students in Form Six and matriculation class.
He said in order to ensure that the implementation of the new strategy did not affect the achievement of students who were taught the two subjects in English, the teaching of and examination for the two subjects would be conducted in both languages until the last batch of students who were taught in English completed in 2014.
He said the government made the decision after scrutinising the outcome of studies and surveys carried out on the teaching and learning of the two subjects in English which showed that it could not be implemented as desired.
“What is implemented is the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English/Malay languages,” he said.
Muhyiddin said monitoring by the ministry last year found that only a small group of teachers were using English language fully in the teaching of science and mathematics.
“On the average, the percentage of English usage is between 53 and 58 per cent out of the total time allotted for science and mathematics,” he said.
In addition, he said, only a small group of mathematics and science teachers in secondary and primary schools who took the English language Proficiency Level Evaluation test last year achieved the proficiency level.
He said the precentage of students who scored grades A, B, and C for the science subject in the UPSR last year had dropped from 85.1 per cent to 82.5 per cent for the urban schools and from 83.2 per cent to 79.7 per cent for rural schools.
“For mathematics, the achievement of urban schools dropped from 84.8 per cent to 80.9 per cent while the achievement of rural students dropped from 80.9 per cent to 77 per cent,” he said.
He said the gap in achievement between urban and rural schools in science and mathematics was becoming wider when the PPSMI (teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English) was implemented.
Muhyiddin said the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study 2007 also stated that the position of Malaysian students in the science subject had deteriorated from the 20th spot in 2003 to the 21st spot in 2007.
“For mathematics, the position of our students deteriorated from the 10th spot in 2003 to 20th spot in 2007,” he said.
He said studies by local universities revealed that the level of improvement in the command of the English language by students was nominal, that is, not more than three per cent throughout the implementation of the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English.
“The command of the English language among students, particularly in the rural areas, was still low making it difficult for them to understand the teaching of mathematics and science in English,” Muhyiddin said.
Based on this observation, he said, the government was convinced that science and mathematics must be taught in the language that could be easily understood by the students, namely Bahasa Malaysia in the national schools, Chinese in the national-type Chinese schools and Tamil in the national-type Tamil schools.