KUALA LUMPUR: Those championing the Malay language should put aside nationalist pride to allow science and mathematics to be taught in English, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"It will be difficult for us to find those who can translate newfound knowledge into the national language if we do not know the language in which the knowledge is acquired.
"It is my view that nationalistic pride makes some of us more inclined towards maintaining our own language," the Prime Minister said when answering a question raised by Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) during Minister's Question Time in Parliament on Tuesday (July 16).
However, Dr Mahathir acknowledged there was a division between those who want the subjects to be taught in English and those who insist on the use of the national language.
He said the National Education Advisory Council was currently providing feedback on whether to reintroduce the PPSMI policy (Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English) in schools.
He said this included a detailed study by the Education Ministry on how to reintroduce PPSMI through a new model using IT.
He said this would involve the use of the recording of the subject being taught by the best teachers.
Dr Mahathir noted those who failed to learn in the language of knowledge such as English would be left behind.
"Mastering English in terms of teaching and learning is crucial as it is an international language needed for management and administration," he said, adding that mastering the language also helped in employment opportunities.
He cited the example of Malaysian students who had to learn English or other languages when furthering their studies in Britain, the United States, Russia or Saudi Arabia.
Dr Mahathir said unlike history and geography, new discoveries and advancements were made in science and mathematics using English and other languages.
"For example, information technology and artificial technology are new forms of knowledge which did not exist during my time as a student.
"It would be difficult to find those who are well versed in the fields to translate them into the national language," he added.
The PPSMI was introduced in 2003 but was phased out by 2012 and replaced by the Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening Command of English (MBMMBI) policy.
Since coming to power, the Pakatan Harapan administration has reportedly been keen to reintroduce PPSMI.