Sarawak says ‘no issue’ with Maths and Science in English, already started doing so

Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong speaks to reporters in Kuching November 12, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong speaks to reporters in Kuching November 12, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Sarawak has no issue with having Mathematics and Science taught in schools using English if the federal government opts to implement the measure of adopting English as the medium of language for these two subjects, a state minister from Sarawak has said.

Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, who is Sarawak’s education, science and technological research minister, reportedly said that Sarawak is currently the only state nationwide to use English to teach the two subjects since this January to Primary One students.

“Yes, we already use English to teach Mathematics and Science effective this month. So for us there is no issue. I doubt whether he (Dr Mahathir) can convince the parents (in other parts of the country) as he did in the past,” he was quoted as saying on Friday by local daily The Borneo Post, referring to prime minister and acting education minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who recently announced that English would be used to teach the two subjects.

He also reportedly said that his ministry and the Sarawak Education Department are keeping a close eye on the roll-out of the programme to teach the two subjects in English in the first six months.

He had last November said that the Sarawak government had so far spent RM11 million for the programme to teach Mathematics and Science in English to Year One students in primary schools in the state from January 1, 2020

The funds covered the cost of training of over 2,800 teachers, and also included the cost of printing books and materials.

The programme covers 1,026 primary schools in the state, but excludes 220 national-type primary schools which had opted not to teach the two subjects in English this year.

Last August, Sarawak’s Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Annuar Rapaee explained to The Borneo Post that the Sarawak chief minister had agreed with the then education minister Maszlee Malik’s proposal to make the state the first in Malaysia to teach the two subjects in English.

Annuar had also reportedly said that Sarawak had decided not to rush and to start implementing this measure at only the lowest level of Year One in primary schools, to prevent a repeat of the failure of the previous PPSMI policy that was implemented nationwide at the primary and secondary level amid a lack of preparedness among teachers then to use English for the two subjects.

On Friday, Dr Mahathir was reported as saying in a video of his Thursday meeting with education ministry officials that English would be used to teach both Mathematics and Science.

The previous PPSMI policy was introduced in 2003 during Dr Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister, with the policy receiving mixed reactions and eventually expanded to all stages of the national school system in 2007.

The PPSMI policy was later scrapped in 2012 and replaced by then education minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with the “Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and to Strengthen the English language” (MBMMBI) policy.

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