Teaching of Maths and Science in English

Nation Building, People, Politics 41 Comments

Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI) is the outcome of a policy decision made by the Government of Malaysia as the result from the Minister’s Council Meeting held on 19 July 2002. Realizing that poor English skills hurt graduates competing for work against people from other countries, especially neighboring Singapore, ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad launched a program to resume teaching math and science in English. Most other subjects are taught in Malay. The implementation of PPSMI was carried out in stages beginning with the 2003 schooling session. The pioneers were all Year 1 students for Primary Schools, Form 1 and Lower 6 students for Secondary Schools.

The rationale for the decision to change the medium of instruction from the Malay Language to English for the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics subjects was made based on the government’s concern on the nation’s human capital development towards achieving the standard of a developed country, as well as an early preparation to compete in the era of globalization. The change apparently represents one of a number of reversals of a language policy in Malaysia, a former British Colony. After the nation’s independence in 1957, Malaysian officials originally moved to have math, science, and other courses taught in Malay, according to this story in the Associated Press. But in 2003, the government changed course, and decided to teach math and science in English. One reason they did so back then: They were worried about their students keeping up with students from a nearby academic power, Singapore.

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