PUTRAJAYA, July 9 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the goal of raising students' English proficiency in the national education system remains even with the abolishment of the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English in 2012.
The prime minister said measures to enhance the teaching of English would include increasing the teaching/learning hours for the subject, increasing the number of English language teachers and setting up language laboratories in schools.
"If the situation permits, we may make a pass in the English language a must at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level."All this shows that the government is aware how important English mastery is to enable us to be competitive in this era of globalisation," he told reporters after chairing the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council meeting, here, on Thursday.
Najib was asked to comment on the Cabinet's decision yesterday to revert to teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia and vernacular languages, and at the same time to undertake a new approach to strengthen the teaching of English at all levels of education.
He said English proficiency was vital for the future of the country but the difference now would be the methods to be used to achieve this."We think that increasing the teaching hours for the subject and introducing English literature is a better way than teaching Science and Mathematics in English.
"That's the only difference but the goal is the same, that is, mastering English as it is essential for the future of Malaysia. That need is recognised by the government," he said.
Asked on the suggestion by some quarters that the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English or PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris), Najib said this needed to be referred to the Education Ministry for consideration.
"The proposal (to reverse PPSMI) had been studied by the previous minister of education and current minister and the professionals in the ministry, and they suggested that longer hours for the English subject and introducing English literature would be best way for students to master English," he said.
Najib said when PPSMI was implemented, only about eight per cent of the teachers had confidence in teaching the two subjects in English, and in reality, it was not happening the way the government had envisioned.
He said if the teaching hours for English were increased, students would be more confident and understand better other subjects in English as well.
"Even in the past when Bahasa Malaysia was used, the students had been able to become doctors and other professionals. So, that (language) is not a problem. Many doctors who went through their education in bahasa right up to university level, like those at UKM, have become very good doctors. There is no question of quality being affected (by the use of bahasa)," he said.
Asked on the cost of the policy reversal, Najib said: "We do not know yet. But we can still use some of the hardware and software. They are not totally abandoned.
"We are working out a seamless transfer to the previous policy.
"Asked about former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's disappointment over the abolishment of PPSMI which was introduced by him six years ago, Najib reiterated that the aim for English mastery remained but only the methodology and implementation would be different.-- BERNAMA