‘Don’t change policy over a cup of coffee’, says Masing on education flip-flop

Tan Sri James Masing

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Jan 31: Education policy is a serious matter and children should not be used as guinea pigs, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing.

If education policy changed every time the country has a new education minister, the children will suffer, he opined.

“What we need is a policy that will enhance our education system so that we can compete in the global market. However, what we have in Malaysia is that each time we have a new education minister, the education policy will also change.

“We have to be thoughtful and know what is the right thing to do, such as using English for the teaching Mathematics and Science. This is universal. We should not change policy over a cup of coffee,” Masing told DayakDaily when contacted.

He reiterated that education policy should not be politicised and be affected by race and religions as education should transcend all.

“Of what use is it that we have an education minister wanting our children to use black shoes. White shoes have been used all these while, not for anything else, but to instil discipline and cleanliness among our children,” he said, while taking a jibe at former education minister Dr Mazslee Malik for introducing black shoes for school students last year.

Masing was commenting acting Education Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was reported as saying that English will once again be used to teach Mathematics and Science.

“It is very important that we give time for English, particularly in learning Science and Math. Geography and History can come in any language but Math and Science are not indigenous fields of knowledge (to us). It comes from abroad.

“And most of it comes to us in English, therefore we are going to use English in the teaching of Science and Math,” Dr Mahathir said during a special meeting with Education Ministry management officials yesterday.

The teaching of Science and Mathematics in English was introduced in phases, beginning with Year One, Form One and Lower Six students in 2003 under Dr Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister. It was abolished in 2013.

Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong

Meanwhile, state Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong agreed with Dr Mahathir’s intention on the using English to teach Math and Science.

He said the prime minister was always in favour of using English to teach Mathematics and Science but many parents were against it .

“Thus it cannot be implemented in states in the peninsula. Only Sarawak is using English to teach Mathematics and Science effective this year, starting with Year One pupils.

“It cost us RM11 million to implement it, which includes training of teachers, printing materials and supplying textbooks.

“My ministry together with the Education department are closely monitoring it for the next six months. Any shortcomings, immediate intervention will be carried,” he said.

Datuk Richard Wee

Chairman of the Management Committee of Kuching Chung Hua Middle School No 1, 3 & 4, Datuk Richard Wee, expressed worry that the new policy would develop and snowball into another controversy.

“I think in Sarawak, we are lucky that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has agreed on the plan and policy to implement that.

“It is the schools that are directly under the Education Ministry will be affected and will face many challenges in this change of policy,” he said. — DayakDaily