In my previous entry I mentioned how in Malaysia students are taught math and science in English. Recently a few adjustments have been made to this policy, which began about three years ago. Here’s a little more information about this, especially as it pertains to schools in that country for ethnic Chinese.
Upper primary school pupils in Chinese schools will learn Mathematics and Science in English for two periods each.
“After discussions with all parties concerned, we have decided on a 4-2-2 formula – that is, four periods of English, two periods of Mathematics and two periods of Science in English for upper primary pupils,” said Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He added that to accommodate the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, there would be one period less for Moral Education.
Chinese-medium schools have adopted a bilingual approach, teaching Mathematics and Science in both Chinese and English.
For the lower primary level, a 2-4-3 formula has been used since the policy was implemented in 2003 – two periods for English, four for Mathematics and three for Science per week.
With the announcement, upper primary pupils now have eight periods of Mathematics per week – six periods will be taught in Chinese and two periods in English.
Previously, only seven periods were allocated for Mathematics.
To make room in the timetable for the additional period, Moral Education now will be taught in four periods instead of five.
For Science, of the five periods allocated for the subject, three will be in Chinese and two in English.
The idea of using English to teach Science and Mathematics was proposed to arrest the declining command of the language among students. The policy was implemented from January 2003.
Unhappiness with this, however, apparently extends beyond the ethnic Chinese community, as four students have asked Malaysia’s High Court to declare that the teaching of math and science in English is “unconstitutional, invalid and ineffective.”
For a scholarly examination of related issues, see the work of Wong Ting-Hong (English PDF), such as his book Hegemonies Compared: State Formation and Chinese School Politics in Postwar Singapore and Hong Kong.
- Students File Summons Over Teaching Of Science, Mathematics In English, Bernama, January 20, 2006
- Chinese schools agree to formula for maths and science, Star, December 24, 2005
- Billingual burden or blessing?, Star, January 22, 2006