Bahasa Malaysia will continue to be a medium of instruction in national schools. The Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said it would not be possible for the government to set up national English medium schools due to policy and the National Education Act (1996).“English medium schools are unlikely to make a comeback due to the country’s existing education policies.
“However, we have consented for national-type (vernacular) schools to use the Chinese and Tamil languages (as the medium of instruction),” he said.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, was speaking to reporters after attending a dialogue session with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) academic staff and students here.
Section 17 of the National Education Act 1996 states the national language must be the main medium of instruction in all-educational institutions under the national education system.
The Act also provides an exemption to this rule for national-type schools or any other institution exempted by the Minister himself.
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 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.