Indonesia not fussed bout science and maths in English

For many normal countries like Indonesia, getting instruction in English is something desirable and they move ahead, maybe slowly but surely,  in an increasingly globalized world. Countries like Malaysia seems bent on moving in the opposite direction. Malaysia Boleh!

Students being taught English in an open-space class in Aceh. The use of English as the language of instruction at national schools is limited to some 700 schools out of 5,000. (Antara Photo)

via the Jakarta Globe:

Ministry Turns a Deaf Ear to Critics Over Use of English in the Classroom

While the use of English as a language of instruction in schools has often sparked controversy, the government says it is unlikely to follow neighbor Malaysia and drop the use of English for math and science classes.

The Ministry of National Education’s director general of management for primary and secondary schools, Suyanto, told the Jakarta Globe the ministry would stick to its agenda of increasing the number of schools that use English for math and science lessons.

“No way will we drop it,” he said. “Students have a great capacity to learn, so we should encourage them.”

Last week, the Malaysian government announced that it would dump English as the language of instruction for math and science in schools. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, as reported by Agence France-Presse, said his government was convinced that science and math needed to be taught in a language that would be easily understood by students.

Critics of Malaysia’s nation-wide policy of teaching these two subjects in English say that student performance has declined since the policy’s introduction in 2003, and that it is particularly unfair for children who are not proficient in the language.

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4 thoughts on “Indonesia not fussed bout science and maths in English

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  1. The flip flop syndrome in the previous administration seems to have taken roots in bolehland. Another deadly virus at the expense of future anak Malaysia. Sad.


  2. I was a former employee of a big construction company in Singapore. I have the opportunity to work in Indonesian projects in the 1980’s. My Indonesian colleague’s English standard was definitely below par when compared with the Singaporeans & Malaysians then.

    However, I’m gald that they are now moving in the right direction to teach maths & science in English. Like you said, Malaysia is moving in the opposite direction. How sad. With such wide ranging reforms in Indonesia viz. democracy & anti-corruption etc.. Indonesia will definitely overtake Malaysia in the not too distant future. Then, Malaysia will have to send maids to work in Indonesia!

    The Malaysian politician’s idiotic view is that if there are some poor Malaysians who cann’t keep abreast with the rest of the Malaysians, then everybody have to “slow down” to accomodate them. Otherwise it is “unfair” to them.
    In fact, it should be the otherway round to help these poor Malaysians to catchup with the rest because the rest of the world will not stop & wait for us.


  3. Indonesia will definitely overtake Malaysia in the not too distant future. Then, Malaysia will have to send maids to work in Indonesia!

    in a dream may be yes but in reality indonesia need at least 100years to catch up malaysia steady progress (but if we manage to send our wild FPI to run amok in malaysia perhaps we will reduce the gaps in to 75 years….so, now all depend to our brother in FPI )

    and remember indonesia is not only jakarta

    if malaysia with better english standard still consider to drop its decision to use English for math and science classes
    considering the decline of their student performance,
    than Indonesia should learn from that experiences.

    english is widely use in public in malaysia, and most of malaysian children able to speak english even before they start to learn in the school.

    while in indonesia normally children start to learn english in the school & video games and only few have a chance to practise their english in daily life.

    Ministry of education should come up with better idea.
    if they insist to implement this decision and ignore the student readiness….

    not only the student will fail in English…but also match and science. and that’s not suppose to happen to the country who produce many champions in science and mathematics olympiad.

    jangan asal kalau malaysia tak boleh kita boleh


  4. As someone who has science education background I can assure you that yes, English skill is helpful, but it is not essential for learning science. Actually it is much easier to learn science in native language, it the material is available. I think there are already lots of excellent learning materials in Bahasa Indonesia for elementary and high schools, although for undergraduates and beyond good science textbooks in Indonesia are severely scarce.

    The true language of science (at least, hard sciences) is actually mathematics, and maths can be conveyed without much words 🙂 Actually I suspect you can learn theoretical physics just by going over the equations and bypass the texts. The math notation is universal and hardly changed even when translated.

    About Malaysia: it is a different case to Indonesia. I heard that the British actually build good English-based education system in Malaysia and it continues to run after independence that without disruption, because Britain keep good relations with Malaysia (Soekarno would have pointed out that Britain created Malaysia as her puppet state).

    It was unlike us, who only had a few Dutch language-based school system before independence. We also kicked Dutch professors out in the Irian Barat conflict.

    The colonial government actually discouraged the teaching of Dutch language to Indonesians, and prefer to promote the Malay language. So Malay language was (and in the form of Bahasa Indonesia, still is) used as the main language of instruction in school. People like Soekarno or Hatta, which was Dutch-educated were a very small minority.

    In short: Malaysia, unlike Indonesia, has a good tradition of English-based education, and I think it is much easier and perhaps better for them to continue it that way. For Indonesia? I rather doubt the usefulness, and I guess unlike Malaysia it would be quite hard to switch to English as language of instruction.


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