By: Hamidah Atan
PUTRAJAYA: The last word in the debate over the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will probably be heard here tomorrow.
More than 200 politicians, academics and representatives of non-governmental organisations and parent-teacher associations will meet to discuss the merits and demerits of doing so.
Education director-general Da-tuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the meeting would be chaired by deputy education minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
It will also see attendance by representatives of the Australian Qualification and Standard Assessment Body.
Three papers would be presented during the meeting."I will be presenting an analysis of the 2008 Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) results.
"The experts from Australia will present their assessments on the standard of English as well as Mathematics and Science in UPSR while another paper will discuss the overall input and views obtained from the previous five meetings.
"Alimuddin added that the experts were invited to analyse the standard of English in relevant subjects.
"We will discuss all this comprehensively, but no decision as to whether it should be continued will be made.
"The input will be presented to Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for him to act on.
"Hishammuddin had said that input from the meetings would be discussed by the cabinet before a decision was made.
Alimuddin said feedback from the meetings had not been conclusive towards continued using English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics.
"This is because we obtained all kinds of views. "There were quarters who wanted the system to be continued and improved, but there were also those who wanted us to revert to the old system, that is, teaching of both subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.
"There were also those who said this should start from Standard Four or Form One. All this is for the cabinet to decide.
" On the threat by Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong to launch a protest against the continued use of English in the teaching of the two subjects, Alimuddin said such an ultimatum should not have been issued.
"It is not appropriate for such a demand to be made as the matter is being discussed. "We have not closed the door for discussion yet. I
n fact, it was one of those early groups invited to the discussion.
"He said it was free to express its views as Hishammuddin and the government were ready to listen.
Dong Jiao Zong, which comprises Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) and Jiao Zong (United Chinese School Teachers Association), said the government should revert to the use of mother-tongue languages to teach the two subjects in primary schools.
The protest threat was made by Jiao Zong president Ong Chiaw Chuan.
Hishammuddin was reported as saying that at the second and fourth roundtable discussions held on Aug 27 and Oct 21 respectively, most of the participants, including Dong Jiao Zong and educational and cultural groups from other communities, political parties, academics and former education officers, were not in favour of the "go English" policy.
The results of this year's UPSR announced recently saw a significant increase in pupils who scored As in English.
There was a 4.4 per cent rise in the number of pupils who scored As in English, as compared with the national average of the past five years' results.
There was also a 4.8 per cent increase in competent students (those who scored A, B or C) in the language.
About 46.6 per cent of pupils chose to answer the Mathematics paper in English, while 31.1 per cent were confident enough to tackle the Science paper in English, compared with 0.2 and 0.3 per cent respectively last year.
This year's UPSR pupils formed the pioneer batch taught Mathematics and Science in English from Year One in 2003.
Pupils who sat the UPSR in 2006 and last year were only taught the two subjects in English when they were in Year Two or Three.
The New Straits Times Online: 15 Disember 2008