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Byline: Koh Lay Chin
LAST week's fifth and final roundtable on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English saw seven options on the policy posed to participants. The Education Ministry will consider these options before it brings its case to the cabinet for a decision. KOH LAY CHIN looks at the alternatives, the controversies and their implications.
* ALTERNATIVE ONE: A continuation of the policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in English at all school levels.
Most stakeholders are ready for a backlash if the policy was to continue, namely from Chinese and Malay linguists and nationalists. It is widely believed, though, that the most fiery protests will be from education and cultural groups like Dong Jiao Zong, rather than from their Malay counterparts, as they want Mandarin to be the main language of instruction for Science and Maths in Chinese schools. This is a cultural fight, and the Chinese groups have argued that they have justification with the recent Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) analysis showing that more than 95 per cent of Chinese pupils chose to answer their exam papers in Mandarin and not English. But other groups have questioned the results, expressing incredulity that so many pupils would have gone for that option unless they had been informally coached or advised to do so.
Education Ministry officials concur that a continuation of the policy would be the easiest option for them, in that they can strengthen their teacher training and reshape curricular elements while waiting …