English it is

By Shannon Teoh

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 16 — Most education stakeholders want to maintain the current practice of teaching science and maths in English.

This was the general sentiment at a roundtable meeting held today to debate seven options on the medium of instruction for the two subjects.

Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (ETeMS) has been debated in both education and political circles since it was first introduced in 2003.

Chaired by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, today’s roundtable discussion saw Ministry of Education officials along with representatives from institutes of higher learning, NGOs, parent-teacher associations, political parties and lawmakers spending the afternoon session of the day-long roundtable discussion debating this topic.

The alternatives presented were:

1. To maintain English at all levels.

2. To maintain English at secondary level whereas Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin or Tamil (mother tongues) will be used at primary level.

3. English to be used from Standard Four onwards and in respective mother tongues prior to this.

4. Mother tongue to be used at primary level and Bahasa Malaysia at secondary level as was the case before ETeMS.

5. Primary schools to decide for themselves which language to use.

6. Mother tongue to be used at lower primary (Standards One to Three) and English and mother tongue at higher primary level. ETeMS to continue at secondary level.

7. Science will not be taught at lower primary level but integrated into the curriculum of other subjects.

While stakeholders were asked to pick their favoured option from the seven alternatives, no resolution was passed today as the meet was only to gather opinion on the alternatives presented.

A final decision on the matter is expected from the Cabinet at the end of the series of roundtable talks.

Today’s conference was the fifth out of seven planned discussions.

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