Is teaching Science and Maths in English a premature move?

Most students in Sarawak are unable to converse and understand English - Pix from Google

By Nadhirah Sofea Rashid

The response towards the Sarawak government's move to use English for Science and Mathematics in Standard One next year has drawn mixed responses from the teaching fraternity in the state.

While many welcomed the move, saying it will eventually uplift English standards in Sarawak, some feel the move is being done hastily and without proper facts to back the decision.

One of the teachers, Mohd Khairul Izzuddin Shaari through his Twitter account said that in both rural or urban areas, students were still struggling to understand and converse in English.

Izzuddin, who has been teaching for six years in a rural school in Baram, urged the authorities to study in-depth Sarawak's UPSR results data before implementing such changes.

Students find it hard to learn subjects in English, simply because it's not their mother tongue, Izzuddin explains. 

The thread on Twitter started after Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong made the announcement on Wednesday.

Read: Its English for Math and Science in Sarawak next year

Some netizens agreed with Izzuddin saying authorities needed to understand student's ability before making the move.

Responding to the issue, Jawong said that in the past, very few people in rural areas were able to understand and converse in English but the language was still used in primary schools.

“The result was good, and a lot of them turned out to be successful individuals.

“Today, about 90% of villagers in Sarawak can understand and speak English, so what’s the problem?” he said in a press conference without giving details on where he got the figures.