KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The Najib administration has not decided on switching back to English for Science and Mathematics (PPSMI) because several Cabinet ministers feel any change would be another embarrassing flip-flop.
The Malaysian Insider understands the Cabinet has discussed the issue but ministers are still divided, leaving Datuk Seri Najib Razak to ask the Education Ministry to work out the various options.
“They don’t want to appear to flip-flop like the Abdullah government,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider recently.
Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s rule was marked by several policy U-turns that led to him being mocked by predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and other critics.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz confirmed yesterday that the matter had been discussed in Cabinet prior to the Sarawak state polls last month.
“But we have made no decision yet. Cabinet views were divided so we still have to study the option,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Before the Sarawak polls, Najib announced that he would consider using dual languages as the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science in schools. The policy was first introduced in 2003 but the Education Ministry decided last year to stop it by 2012 after consulting with teachers and parents around the country.
While those in the pro-English faction, including lobbyist Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE), lauded the announcement, concerns were also raised over the possibility that the statement was merely politically-motivated.
In the excitement over the polls, which saw the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) pact cruise to a thumping victory, chatter over Najib’s announcement eventually fizzled out.
In an article carried by several media organisations earlier this week, PAGE raised the matter again, insisting that the PPSMI policy was favoured by the majority.
“Lately, the views of bloggers seem to be dominating the print and digital media.
“PAGE views this as a positive proof that PPSMI is indeed favoured by a significant number of the rakyat, both in the peninsula and in east Malaysia,” the group said.
It is learnt the prime minister wants the Education Ministry to be serious about the matter as parents and foreign investors he met recently were alarmed with the lack of fluency in the language.
The Education Ministry, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has announced it will hire 10,000 teachers to teach English in local schools.
Najib has also got a promise from the United States to send Peace Corps volunteers to teach the language in the country.
“Najib wants action now before fluency becomes a bigger issue for investors,” a Cabinet source said.