Wednesday, August 21

Going down the English road


S’wak to be first to use English for primary school Science and Maths using trained local teachers

Maszlee (second left) and Abang Johari shake hands after their meeting. Also seen from right are Mohd Saiful, Junaidi, Manyin, Mohd Ghazali and Azhar.

KUCHING: Sarawak will soon be the first state in Malaysia to teach Mathematics and Science in English in its primary schools using specially-trained local teachers.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said this comes after the Sarawak government agreed that the language is to be used to teach the two subjects, like what Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir had suggested.

“The Sarawak government has agreed that the state will be the first to teach Mathematics and Science in English, and Sarawak will help us (Education Ministry) in implementing the system and to train the teachers so that the teachers will be able to teach these subjects in English.

“We would like to thank the state government for responding to the prime minister’s ideas,” he said after meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the latter’s office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia, here yesterday.

Maszlee said the teachers involved will be Sarawakians, who will be trained in institutions and universities in the state.

He added the Sarawak government has carried out some initiatives with the state Education Department and local universities in ensuring that these teachers will be ready and capable to teach the two subjects in English.

Last month, Dr Mahathir said the federal government has taken the middle-road approach to teaching Science and Mathematics in schools, whereby schools will be allowed to opt to teach the subjects in either English or Bahasa Malaysia.

He said this was because some Malaysians support the use of English to teach the two subjects while others opposed it.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin, who was also present at the meeting, acknowledged that the entire process was definitely an uphill battle.

“To train teachers to teach in English is not that easy, but it has to start somewhere,” he said, while revealing that the state through its universities and institutions has been conducting courses for Mathematics and Science to be taught in English.

“This year, we have more than 400 teachers who have just completed their training to teach Mathematics and Science in English for primary schools.

“Some of them will become trainers in their own respective district,” he added.

Manyin further said that the Sarawak government will provide the necessary funding to ensure that the system will be a success.

On a separate issue, Maszlee announced that the RM1 billion contra repayment of Sarawak’s RM2.8 billion debt to the federal government to repair dilapidated schools in the state is back on again, as per the original agreement.

He said details on the mechanism of the plan is still being discussed, and will be announced in due time.

“The RM1-billion contra is the amount that Sarawak will use to repair dilapidated schools in the state.

“We are going to make it a reality. It is still on a contra basis and is back to the original proposal,” he said.

In February this year, the federal government agreed that a RM1 billion loan repayment from Sarawak would be used to repair dilapidated schools in the state.

Earlier this month however, Manyin revealed that Putrajaya had rejected the deal and was instead insisting that the RM1 billion be taken as ‘advance payment’ on loans owed by Sarawak to the federal government.

Among those present at the meeting yesterday were Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Ghazali Abas, Sarawak Education Department director Dr Azhar Ahmad, Deputy State Financial Secretary Datu Junaidi Reduan and State Federal Financial Officer Mohd Saiful Sungkih Abdullah.