The education minister said that while the government recognised the importance of English as an international language, Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be used as the main teaching tool in national schools.
“We cannot sacrifice our national language for another language.”
“I am a strong proponent of English, we should strengthen the command of English and (at the same) continue the use of Bahasa Melayu as the main language in schools,” Muhyiddin (picture) said today during a dialogue session with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) students and academic staff.
The deputy prime minister said Malaysians needed to cultivate an attitude where they treated Bahasa Malaysia as a “unique” language, and if no importance was placed on it the language risked being lost.
“As a country which has achieved its independence, we have to strengthen Bahasa Melayu.”
Muhyiddin argued his case by saying that research conducted by Unesco found that schoolchildren were more receptive in learning new subjects using their mother tongue.
“Some people do not understand any other language apart from their mother tongue. The important thing is knowledge, and what is the simplest medium to attain it?
“Unesco research found that people learnt things better via their own language, their mother tongue,” he said.
The DPM also stressed that as far as the government was concerned, Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be used as the medium to teach science and mathematics in schools.
“The National Education Policy is clear on this. The language in national schools is Bahasa. It is impossible to create an English medium unless there is a change in policy.”
Pro-English lobby groups like Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) have been trying to get the teaching of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy back in schools since it was abolished in 2009.
PAGE has urged that schools be allowed to teach science and mathematics in English, citing widespread support from parents for the option.
PPSMI was first introduced in 2003 but the Education Ministry decided to put an end to it by 2012 after consulting teachers and parents around the country.
In the uproar that ensued, Putrajaya introduced MBMMBI, which will see the teaching of mathematics and science revert to Bahasa Malaysia from 2012 with more contact hours for English in order to improve students’ skills in the language.
In May, The Malaysian Insider reported that the Najib administration had decided not to switch back to PPSMI because several Cabinet ministers felt any change would be seen as another embarrassing flip-flop.