Wednesday, June 10, 2009

English as compulsory SPM pass subject?

English as compulsory SPM pass subject?
By : Suganthi Suparmaniam


Should English be made a compulsory passing subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia? This is the question thrown to the public by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who wants to know if it should be done by the government.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said he was surprised that English is not made a compulsory passing subject in SPM, despite the language being declared as the second language of the country.

He said it is also disturbing that grammar was not being emphasised in schools but rather its communicative aspects.

“I want to ask the public can we introduce grammar and make English compulsory to pass SPM. We want feedback,” he said in his speech before launching the Kirkby College Alumni Association inaugural general meeting today.

“I did not make any decision on it. I want to give a chance to the people to give their views. I will deliberate it in the ministry,” he added.
Muhyiddin said the reason why English was not made a compulsory passing subject before was because it was thought that it would affect students from rural areas.

“Until now, we don’t have to pass English to get a SPM certificate. It’s not compulsory to pass English, let alone score credit or distinction,” he said.

Those who wish to give their feedback on the matter, can contact the ministry at 03-8884 6000 or visit the ministry’s website at

“It was very revealing to me. I thought you must pass English, but was told that we don’t have to,” he added.

On teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Muhyiddin said it is a critical issue and that he will make announcement in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the proposed move was backed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. The former Prime Minister said making it compulsory should be a pre-requisite, Farrah Naz Karim reports from PUTRAJAYA.

Dr Mahathir said mastering the language would not only better prepare Malaysian students for globalisation but give them an edge in securing jobs.

“(However at the end of the day,) it is up to parents to decide because it concerns the future of their children, not that of the government.
“Without a strong command of the language, it will be difficult for them to study abroad or secure good jobs as they would be required to be able to converse well in the international language,” he said after being conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Humanity by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, today.

However, Dr Mahathir anticipated that the proposal would be strongly opposed by those only interested in pushing for their political mileage and not in the quality of education.

“These people are not interested in (our children’s) education or acquiring knowledge. All they want to do is to see how much support they can get. I am afraid if they do that (reject the stress on English), the country will go to the dogs,” he said.

On the government’s pending decision on the Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI), Mahathir said he would feel sorry for the younger generation if the government decided to revert to teaching the subjects back to Bahasa Malaysia.

“If that is the case, in future, all Malays and Malaysians will be “bodoh” (dumb),” he said.

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