Teaching of Maths, Science in English at crossroads


It looks as if the teaching of Maths and Science in English has reached a cross-roads.

There have been protests against the teaching of two subjects in English while others claim the approach is helpful.

The flip-flopping over the years has not helped.

It is possible that many teachers, especially in rural areas, were not ready to teach those two subjects in English. At the same time, the standard of English has dropped over the years.

If the objective is to improve the standard of English, then much will depend on the quality of English-language teachers. A revamp of the curriculum and teacher-training would be required. More time should be allocated in school timetables for the actual teaching of English. Bring back grammar, literature appreciation and essay writing.

So where to, now?

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I don’t understand why those pejuang bahasa focus on science and maths while the bahasa crisis is much, much more than this! Why are most local websites only in English whilst some American websites have BM versions? Memalukan! We should call for all local websites to be in bahasa, be bilingual at least! I’m not against BM as bahasa ilmu but what’s d point if it can’t be a full-fledged communication tool?

Chris Randolph

I read your article about teaching the English language in Malaysia and I was hoping to ask for your advice… My name is Chris and my wife is a Malaysian Chinese and I grew up and studied up to “A” levels in Singapore and she has the equivalent from the Malaysian education system. We have lived here in San Diego in the US for the past 15 years and we’re discussing moving back to KL within the next 6 months to a year. We have pretty much all questions and factors accounted for except the part of education for our… Read more »

anna brella

Read the recent policy announcement by the current Minister of Education on the future direction of the education system there.

IMO, the new (myopic, self-serving, voter-pandering and election winning?) policy direction seems to be based on that smart statement by that Forrest Gump character who said: Stupid is as stupid does.

“Imagine Power To The People” John Lennon.

Kah Seng

A solid compromise that will raise English language standards, give liberty to parents, and increase academic competition is to revert to the pre-1975 system of (1) reopening the English medium primary schools, (2) switch to English on technical subjects only in high school for vernacular school students, (3) teach commerce/econ/accounting also in English. Here is a good argument: http://thenutgraph.com/scaling-the-language-barrier People who argue in favor of English for math and science in primary schools overlook many factors. They have only beginning to realize the first 2 arguments below. There are several more buried by government propaganda, and not captured by the… Read more »


Malaysia will never mature, going backward instead of moving forward. The well to do (middle class & rich) will send their children to international schools or even overseas, left the poor in national / type schools to rot. Sigh!!!!!!!


I believe applied exposure is the best way to learn a language.
If schools are only happy to have BM spoken and written, where do educationists expect the students to apply what they have learnt if no help is coming from their own homes?


Like most issue with education, the choice really should be up to Parents and Teachers and the problem began and continue to be the fact the govt or rather the politicians are making the decision.

anna brella

People never fail to end up in that usual creek of shite when they let self-serving politicians play with education and turn it into a game of political football instead of making it the highest priority investment for the country followed by investment in good health and then the economy. So in order for you to say, quite rightly, “it’s the economy, stupid” you first need to have good education and good health as your twin national bulwarks. Otherwise by the natural law of human economics, your nationals will end up being paid in peanuts and treated as cheap disposable… Read more »

Kenny Gan

Whether you think it’s helpful or not depends on whether you are in the rural areas or urban areas. In rural areas std of English is very poor and most parents can’t read/speak English and so can’t help their children with Maths & Science. This means rural students are disadvantaged w.r.t. urban children. Instead of falling behind in 1 subject (English) which is non-compulsory, they fall behind in 3. On the other hand, English is the language of the Sciences so if you want to expand your knowledge, then you need to be familiar with English. There’s no clear cut… Read more »