KUCHING, April 25: The move to cultivate the learning of English at a young age on top of empowering Sarawakian students to master the international language of science and technology is an important one.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said this in welcoming the announcement that Sarawak will be the first state in the country to teach Mathematics and Science in English in primary schools soon.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik made the announcement after meeting Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg yesterday.
“Nowadays, English is one of the most important languages and seems to be the main language of the world.
“While considering to compete in the global market, moving along with rapid technological advancement and meeting changes in societies’ needs, wants and values will demand everyone to have skills and knowledge about the English language,” Dr Yii said in a press statement today.
He added that it was very befitting that Sarawak was chosen to be the first state for its implementation as the state’s rights to the usage of English is enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
On promoting the use of English at a young age, Dr Yii said it would encourage students to be bilingual and this would help with their learning abilities.
“Studies using functional MRIs (imaging studies) of the brain have shown that children who are bilingual at an early age use their brains more efficiently as compared to those who acquire those skills as adults,” he shared.
“For example, when asked to translate between two languages, ‘native’ bilingual speakers use only one part of their brain while those who are bilingual as adults use two.”
Other cognitive advantages to ‘native’ bilingual speakers include the ability to grasp abstract concepts faster, precisely the intellectual skill helpful in learning mathematics and higher-level science.
On its implementation, he emphasised it would require acceptance by the teachers, proper teacher training and creating a conducive learning environment.
Dr Yii pointed out that the Ministry should also make sure that sufficient resources and adequate reference books about the subjects in English were available for the students and teachers.
On a separate matter, Dr Yii said he was glad the federal and state governments had resolved misunderstandings regarding the RM1 billion contra loan to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak.
“The issue has always been the proper implementation and method of payment rather than what certain quarters played up as ‘U-turn’ or ‘rejection’.
“Main consideration has always been for transparent implementation to make sure the schools and students will directly benefit from it,” he commented. — DayakDaily