By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 29: All Sarawakians, especially parents, should give their fullest support to the initiative to teach Science and Mathematics in English, starting from Primary One next year, as it would be good for the future generations.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said he doesn’t anticipate objections from the ground as many people had said “we have been waiting for this for too long”.
He brushed off concerns about whether rural pupils could cope, saying the programme was about functional English and not English grammar.
“It is the attitude (towards learning) that is the problem. (But once implemented in their education) I believe there is no problem (for children to pick up the language),” he told a press conference here today.
Manyin emphasised that the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English was a programme and not a policy; otherwise, it would be compulsory for every school to follow suit. Chinese schools had opted out from this programme for the time being.
“But we welcome those who want to come in. We are not forcing them.
“This is very much similar to the Dual Language Programme (DLP), which was introduced quite some time ago, and there are 152 schools in Sarawak currently adopting the DLP,” he elaborated.
The teaching of Science and Mathematics in English could be considered a modified version of DLP, he said, because the full DLP required meeting certain criteria, among them the need to maintain and guarantee the performance of Bahasa Malaysia (BM) as well as obtain consent from parents and teachers.
Manyin said his ministry had a lengthy meeting with almost all section heads from the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday, where they suggested Sarawak use the improvised DLP model, provided parents agreed.
“If the parents don’t agree, then it cannot be implemented. So, we need to get the consent from parents, but I believe that most parents will welcome this initiative because the idea of introducing this programme is to prepare our children starting from their early years to be able to compete globally in the future,” he pointed out.
Manyin revealed that quite a number of graduates from local universities opted to be civil servants simply because of their poor command of the English language, which is required in the private sector.
Dialogues and roadshows would be rolled out after the forthcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays to disseminate information, gather feedback and clear doubts about the programme.
“We will get our officers to conduct discussions and engage with parents and ‘ketua kaum’. We will also get the two teachers unions as well as the Headmasters Association, Principals Association and the Education Department to work together on this,” he said.
“It is a big challenge, and we cannot afford to fail. We must succeed.”
State Education director Dr Azhar Ahmad, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato William Patrick Nyigor and its deputy, Abdul Rahman Deen, as well as state Education Department head (Academic Management) Dr Les Met and head of School Management Omar Mahli were also present. — DayakDaily