Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is surprised to learn that English is not a “must pass” subject for SPM and wants public feedback on the matter.
The Education Minister said it was a revelation to him as he had always thought that it was a prerequisite since students had to learn English in school.
He was also shocked to learn that national schools no longer taught English grammar.
“I don’t know how you can learn English without knowing grammar,” he told newsmen after launching the Kirkby College alumni association.
Muhyiddin said students were now merely learning communicative English.
“This means they are picking up the language for communication purposes only,” he said, adding that almost 70% of students who take English pass the subject.
The minister said he would seek public view on the matter.
“We may deliberate on it at the ministry level but as Education Minister, I want to give the public a chance to share their views,” he said.
(A pass in English has never been compulsory for SPM. Since 2000, a pass in Bahasa Malaysia was sufficient to get the SPM certificate. Previously, a credit was a must.)
Muhyiddin said he wondered if rural students would be at the losing end if a pass in English was required in SPM.
He also said he did not know if not having to pass English meant the standard of the language had gone down.
When announcing the SPM results in March, Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said 89% of 178,751 candidates had opted to answer the Additional Mathematics Paper 1 fully in English.
Other subjects which students preferred to answer fully in English included Additional Mathematics Paper 2 at 86%, Biology Paper 3 (81.5%) and Chemistry Paper 3 (76.8%).
A retired lecturer and teacher trainer said the teaching of grammar was integrated into four main language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing in English lessons for students.
Dr M: Don’t forsake English and ruin children’s future
Parents should think about the future of their children when deciding whether to agree or to oppose the Government’s proposal to make a pass in English compulsory for a student to pass the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said, English was a necessary component for students to get good jobs once they leave school or for them to go overseas for further education nowadays.
He said that when commenting on Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement that the ministry was mulling the possibility of making English a compulsory subject for passing SPM.
He said if parents continued to reject the importance of the English language in their children’s education, then the future of the country would be at stake.
He also slammed those who oppose the move saying that these people were less concerned about education than politics.
“It is more like politics than education. They are not interested in education or acquiring knowledge. All they want to see is how many votes they can win. So I am afraid the country will go to the dogs,” he told reporters after being conferred a honorary Doctorate of Humanity by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology yesterday.
Asked about the possibility that the policy on the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English would be scrapped Dr Mahathir said: “I feel very sorry. In future, all Malays and Malaysians will be stupid.”
Earlier, he received the honorary doctorate from university president Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.