Sarawak reveals strategy to teach Science, Maths in English

Manyin (third from left) in a discussion with State Education Department officers. From left are Abdul Rahman, William and Azhar.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 29: Sarawak needs about RM9 million to implement the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English initiative next year, starting with Primary One. This includes the training of teachers and the provision of learning materials for the pupils.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said he would try to get the money from Putrajaya after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“But the Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) is also ready to help. We have budgeted about RM9 million for the first year to support the implementation of the programme,” he told a press conference at his office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur, here, today.

A total of 2,657 teachers from 1,046 primary schools across the state would need to be trained. They comprise 1,005 Science teachers, 1,275 Mathematics teachers and 377 teachers who can teach both subjects in English.

Teachers’ training is scheduled to start by the end of August using existing modules, which is currently being improved and customised to fit the curriculum.

“To meet the needs for Primary One to Six, we need 7,508 teachers, where 2,823 are for Science, 3,978 for Mathematics and 707 specialised in the two subjects,” Manyin said.

However, the actual number of teachers that needed to be trained for the programme may be less as most of the teachers who have undergone training before are ready for the challenges ahead.

There are 1,266 primary schools in Sarawak, out of which 220 are Chinese primary schools (SJKC). Of these 220 schools, seven are currently using the dual-stream system, where they use Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese as the medium of instruction. Another SJKC is also using the dual-language system, but using Chinese and English as the medium of instruction.

Currently, there are also two national primary schools (SK) adopting the dual-stream education system, Manyin pointed out.

He revealed that his office had a lengthy meeting with almost all the section heads from the Ministry of Education (MoE) yesterday to deliberate and discuss issues pertaining to the implementation of the programme.

In terms of trainers to train the teachers, he said there were a lot of them in the Teachers Education Institute (IPG) who could get the job done.

“If not enough, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Swinburne University and Curtin University have indicated that they are ready to help in teacher training.

“We are not going to make any U-turn, and the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will start next year for Primary One,” he reiterated.

As for the curriculum, Manyin briefly explained that the pupils would spend at least seven-and-a-half hours weekly, with English class having six (6) periods, Mathematics (6 periods) and Science (3 periods).

“This will expose our children to not only Science and Mathematics in English but to polish their English Language (proficiency) over their primary (school) years. By the end of Primary Six, I am confident all them, including rural pupils, will be able to converse in and use English,” he reckoned.

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 sector Omar Mahli were present. — DayakDaily