The Cabinet has decided that all national primary and secondary schools will teach Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Melayu beginning 2012.
Vernacular schools, meanwhile, will teach the subjects in either Chinese or Tamil respectively, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin announced here today.
He said the policy will be implemented in stages for Year One, Year Four, Form One and Form Four in 2012. The changes do not involve Form Six and Matriculation students.
All examinations for Science and Mathematics will remain bilingual until 2014, so as to not jeopardise the performance of students under the current policy - Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English or its official abbreviation PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris).
"The Government made this decision after studying in detail the result of studies and close monitoring of the PPSMI by the Education Ministry and independent bodies since the policy was implemented in 2003," Muhyiddin said.
He said studies showed that PPSMI was never implemented as originally hoped. Instead, teachers were using both English and Bahasa Melayu to teach Science and Mathematics, and the gap between urban and rural schools in the two subjects grew wider after PPSMI was implemented.
The Education Ministry monitored PPSMI in 2008 and found that only 8 per cent of teachers used English completely when teaching Science and Mathematics. On average, English use was 53-58 per cent of the total time allocated for teaching the two subjects.
The percentage of students that received grade A, B and C for Science and Mathematics in the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) exams also declined last year, in both urban and rural schools.
Muhyiddin said the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study 2007, meanwhile, revealed that Malaysian students in Science slipped from 20th place in 2003 to 21st in 2007. For Mathematics, our students dropped from 10th placing in 2003 to 20th in 2007.
"Based on these data, the Government is confident that Science and Mathematics should be taught in a language that is easily understood by students, which is Bahasa Melayu in national and secondary schools, and Chinese and Tamil in vernacular schools," Muhyiddin said.
At the same time, measures will be taken to strengthen the teaching and learning of English in schools, he added. These include:
* Increasing the number of English teachers by 13,000, especially for rural schools.
* Teaching assistants for English will be allocated for large classes of more than 35 students in Years One and Two.
* Time allocated for English in Level 1 (Year One to Three) for national schools will be increased 90 minutes to 330 minutes a week, while for Level 2 (Year Four to Six) to 300 minutes a week.
* Time allocated for English in Level 1 at vernacular schools will be increased 100 per cent from 60 minutes to 120 minutes a week, and for Level 2 from 90 minutes to 120 minutes a week.
* Time allocated for English in Form One to Six will be added 80 minutes from 200 minutes to 280 minutes a week.
* Time allocated for Malaysian University English Test (MUET) in Form Six will be increased 80 minutes to 400 minutes a week.
* Time allocated for English in Matriculation courses will rise 100 per cent from three hours to six hours a week.
The ministry will also introduce a Contemporary English Literature Programme For Children to inculcate the reading habit and introduce elements of literature. English labs will be set up in schools to help students learn the language more effectively, incorporating information technology through the use of appropriate software. To expose students to scientific terms, elements of science and technology will be absorbed into the teaching of English.
"With this decision, the Government is offering a new approach in the teaching of Science, Mathematics and English. The Government believes that this new approach will strengthen Bahasa Melayu and English proficiency, and increase the capability of students to master science and technology, which is important for the country’s future," Muhyiddin said.