By KAREN CHAPMAN and RICHARD LIM
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - The Cabinet has decided that students who started studying Mathematics and Science in English can continue to do so until the end of their secondary education.
Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the students had also the option of answering questions in either English or Bahasa Malaysia.
'The Cabinet discussed and agreed to this as some of my colleagues have expressed their concerns that students who started studying the two subjects in English would be in Year Four to Year Six, and Forms Four and Form Five when the new policy is implemented in 2012,' he told Malaysian media during a breakfast meeting at the end of his five-day working trip to Australia yesterday.
Muhyiddin, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said this was what he meant by 'soft landing' when he announced the new policy last month that students would be given time to get used to the new policy.
Under the new policy, effective 2012, students in Year One to Year Four and Form One to Form Four in national primary and secondary schools would study the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia while those in vernacular schools would be taught in their mother tongue (Chinese and Tamil).
Muhyiddin also said some schools with 'different situations' could start
teaching the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, provided the students continued to be given the option of answering the questions in either language.
In Petaling Jaya, housewife Noraini Yaacob said Muhyiddin's remarks proved that sense and sensibility had prevailed.
'My three sons are delighted to hear the good news as they now have assurance on how they'll be taught in secondary school,' she said.
Former English lecturer Rehanah Bhatal Abdullah said she viewed the announcement positively but felt that Muhyiddin's statement was unclear.
She said the policy should not be done away with altogether if Muhyiddin admitted that it benefited some students and it would be good if parent-teacher associations had a say in the direction that worked best for a school's students.
Parents Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim preferred to adopt a wait-and-see approach as there was too much ambiguity surrounding the policy reversal.