KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today that the government’s decision to abolish the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) is final.
“The matter is closed. I can say that as of this year, PPSMI is not here anymore; we have started a new policy. Maybe people have misunderstood, we’re now actually looking at the beginning of the soft-landing of the MBMMBI (Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening the English Language) policy,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after attending the English Language training mentor programme where Primary Year 1, 2, 3 English teachers are being trained by foreign native English-speaking teachers.
“It’s final. Period,” Muhyiddin said, adding that he would be explaining this in more detail tomorrow to finally put the matter to rest. “As far as the government is concerned, we want to put this issue to rest.”
Asked if it was still too late to reconsider, Muhyiddin said: “It has already been decided in 2009. Maybe like (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, ‘Malaysians mudah lupa (easily forget)’. It was tabled and passed two years ago to abolish PPSMI. I don’t know why it is being brought up now again.
“Maybe PAGE (Parents Action Group for Education) doesn’t know; they only know how to demand. They are ketinggalan zaman (left out in time), two years behind time. Why are you talking about reversing it when it has already been decided?”
However, Muhyiddin did not say whether the government was open to giving parents an option to choose between PPSMI or teaching the subjects in Malay as PPSMI lobby group PAGE has requested.
He said tomorrow’s briefing will touch more on the implementation of MBMMBI and the concerns of some parents whose children are now in Form Three.
“The people now want to know how we can implement MBMMBI because there are students who were already taught in English, and because of that we don’t’ want to disrupt their studies… we will give some consideration, we will announce how the transition will happen so that parents are not worried.
“I receive SMSes from parents who say that their children will be in Form Four next year, so how? I understand, I also have children; so I will announce some flexible measures,” said Muhyiddin.
“I will address the concerns of the parents one by one tomorrow and how we will deal with it in the future,” he said.
“Now if there are those who still don’t agree, we understand; this nation is democratic (and they can voice out their views). But sometimes they go overboard to threaten us politically (by saying they will not vote for Barisan Nasional).
“We cannot be pushed nor will we bow down to the demands of such small groups, because from what I understand, the majority (of the people) understand our decision,” he said.
However, when it was pointed out that yesterday two major BN component parties – MCA and MIC – had supported PAGE’s view that parents should be given the option to choose PPSMI, Muhyiddin brushed it aside.
“They didn’t say they didn’t agree; they simply gave their opinion and suggestion that English literature should be added, and so on. MCA and MIC are part of the government, and they have agreed (on this policy back in 2009). Maybe they just want to express their opinion now; its okay, we won’t stop them,” said Muhyiddin.
No negative reactions
Yesterday, MIC president G Palanivel urged the Education Ministry to reconsider its decision to scrap PPSMI. He wanted the government not to rush into things but to think over the matter carefully, saying it was still not too late to reconsider.
MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek also believed that parents and students should be given a choice, stressing that the education ministry should not disrupt the studies of those students who have already started PPSMI.
Said Muhyiddin: “We at the ministry do not make hasty decisions; we make decisions not based on politics, but for what is best for the people and the nation. We have enough information on PPSMI. We know how PPSMI was implemented and its outcome. There is firm basis (for our decision).”
He added that in 2009, there were no “negative reactions” to the decision (to scrap PPSMI). “The majority received it well when I brought this motion to Parliament and Cabinet… All the parties agreed, including the opposition…”
“The question now is: is teaching Science and Maths in English the best way to improve our proficiency? Or (is it better) to use ‘master teachers’ to help our own teachers improve their command of the language? I believe the latter is the better option.”