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A failed venture in English
Thursday, July 9th, 2009 07:12:00 (The Malay Mail)
samad

HE’S known for his creative  works in literature and has contributed immensely to the literary works of the country. But for the love of Bahasa Malaysia (BM), Malaysia’s national laureate  Datuk A. Samad Said (pic) fought hard against the teaching of mathematics and science in English.Samad talked to Malay Mail on what he thought of the government’s move to revert to teaching the two subjects in BM again.

What do you think of the government’s earlier move to teach mathematics  and science in English?

It was not wise, considering  the decision was made very abruptly. The government only took six months
to change the system.

Does this mean that the move mooted back in 2003 was a failure?

Definitely. It’s not because I say so, but because a lot of research done by professors and educationists indicate the change to be a failure.

Now that the government has reversed it, do you think it is a wise move, and why?

Yes. BM is our root language and should be practised. Not to say that we don’t need to learn English, it’s good to learn as many languages as possible, but like I said before, it’s our root language.

Why throw it away?

Many students said they are used to learning in BM, but when they enter college and university, they need to
learn in English so they have problems getting used to it, as well as understanding the language.

It’s a common problem that we all face. Easy or hard to learn is not the question.

BM is a language that must be maintained. It is just a matter of getting used to learning it.

What about pragmatic issues?

A lot of companies and employers are more interested in hiring those who speak English fluently.

We are speaking in the context of using BM as the language to teach mathematics and science. People
can still practise and learn English, not like they’re not allowed to. After all, it’s good that Malaysians can be
bilingual.

Do you feel that your efforts to revert to teaching the two subjects in BM was worthwhile?

Yes, it was worthwhile.

What do you think is the next move for the government in order to make students capable of interacting in English and BM?

I believe the next move the government should take is to speed up the implementation of teaching mathematics
and science in BM.

It only took six months for our former Prime Minister to change the system. The waiting game shouldn’t be
there in the first place. But if it does, it proves that our new government is not as good as before.

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