More effective to teach science and mathematics in mother tongue, opines Chinese community leader

Lau (seated third left) flanked by Abang Johari on his left and together with other distinguished guests in a group photo with teachers and students of CHMS No. 1.

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by Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 2: Switching the teaching medium of mathematics and science to English is unlikely to improve the standard of English among students.

Instead, Sarawak United Association of Private Chinese Secondary Schools Management Board chairman Temenggong Dato Vincent Lau opined that it would affect the effectiveness of mathematics and science teaching.


“The United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation recommends teaching science and mathematics in their mother tongue or national language,” he told attendees at the ceremony to present education grant by Sarawak government to independent Chinese secondary schools held at Chung Hua Middle School (CHMS) No. 1 here today.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg officiated at the ceremony.

“The most obvious reason is the success stories of Japan and China, which implemented teaching and learning of science and mathematics in their mother tongue,” he said.

Lau was referring to the recent announcement by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik that Sarawak will be the first state in Malaysia to teach mathematics and science in English.

Sharing his concern about the declining standard of English among school children and graduates, Lau however disagreed with the implementation of teaching mathematics and science in English in primary schools, particularly in Chinese primary schools.

The majority of students from Chinese primary schools, he said, will go to national or public secondary schools after they finish Primary Six, while only 15 to 18 per cent would go to independent Chinese secondary schools.

“In fact, independent Chinese secondary schools share the same noble objectives of all national (SMK) and public secondary schools (SMJK) to provide quality education,” he said.

At present, Lau revealed that the number of non-Chinese studying in independent Chinese secondary schools was still relatively small.

“We therefore, welcome and encourage more Chinese as well as non-Chinese students from Chinese primary schools to enrol,” he urged.

According to statistics, there were 1,298 Chinese primary schools throughout the country, with a total population of 518,543 students. Out of the figure, non-ethnic Chinese students comprised over 15 per cent or 100,000 students enrolled in Chinese primary schools.

Noting that independent Chinese secondary schools were considered private schools which collect school fees to fund the schools’ operation, he however assured that those financially not well off will be considered with various kinds of assistance available.

“Therefore, those who wish to study in independent Chinese schools, especially the non-Chinese, should not be put off because of the school fees imposed,” he said.

On the annual education aid, Lau expressed gratitude for the continous support from the state government and Abang Johari.

“The annual grant is an opportune relief to the 14 independent Chinese schools,” he said.

The presence of the Chief Minister at this ceremony, Lau added, signified his recognition of venacular education, particularly the contribution of Chinese education and the shared role independent Chinese schools played towards building, bringing progress to and developing the nation.

In addition, he commended the Chinese community for taking upon themselves the responsibility to sustain the schools in Sarawak all these years.

“I wish to aknowledge the relentless support and contributions of the Chinese community as we continue our journey in preserving and developing vernacular education as part of academic advancment in the country,” he added. — DayakDaily