Yesterday, 30 January, during a special meeting with Ministry of Education officials in Putrajaya, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the Ministry will revive one of its former policies
Dr Mahathir announced that English will once again be used to teach Science and Mathematics.
"It is very important that we give time for English, particularly in learning Science and Mathematics," he said while stressing the importance of the English language.
"Geography and History can come in any language but Mathematics and Science are not indigenous fields of knowledge (to us). It comes from abroad. And most of it comes to us in English, therefore we are going to use English in the teaching of Science and Math," Dr Mahathir added.
The Prime Minister, who is also serving as the interim Education Minister since Dr Maszlee Malik relinquished the portfolio at the beginning of this year, said that the mastery of the English language was vital to imparting the knowledge about the two subjects and to help those seeking jobs.
A video of Dr Mahathir's speech from the meeting was uploaded on his YouTube page, where he is also heard saying, "We find those who study Science in Malay cannot work where English is required"
"We must promote the mastery of English in our education system — this is very important — that we must give time for learning English, in particular in the learning of Science and Mathematics," he said.
The Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) was a government policy introduced by Dr Mahathir in 2003 during his previous tenure as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
PPSMI was aimed at improving the command of the English language among students in primary and secondary schools in the country. Under the policy, the Science and Mathematics subjects were taught in the English medium as opposed to the Malay medium used before.
The policy, which was unpopular even among the members of opposition since its inception, was reversed in 2012 by then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin under the Barisan National administration. At the time, Muhyiddin said the policy had resulted in less rural students passing in the two subjects.
While acknowledging the calls from people for reforms in Malaysia's education policy, Dr Mahathir also said that he is aware of the fact that his views are not always popular among many in the country
"I have ideas for the role of education in the country and towards this end, certain weaknesses have to be attended to," the interim Education Minister said during the meeting yesterday.
"I wish to put my views on record so that we can work together to achieve it. Of course, my views are not always popular or acceptable to many people. But I feel we have to push certain things so that our children grow up and are able to tackle the problems of adult life – that is the purpose of education."
As of this writing, there has been no announcement from the Ministry of Education about how or when the new policy will be implemented
Last year, Dr Mahathir's remarks on pushing the two subjects to be taught in English were met with resistance from a number of people.
Critics of the policy had argued that while teaching English is important, it should not be done through Science and Mathematics:
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, DAP threatened to quit the PH coalition government if the Unified Examination Certificate is not recognised: