The Complexities of Re-reversal of Language-in-Education Policy in Malaysia

  • Saran Kaur Gill
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 1)


The language-in-education policy journey in Malaysia has been a tumultuous one of reversal and re-reversal; initially a reversal from Bahasa Malaysia to English for Science and Mathematics in 2002, and a re-reversal from English back to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools in 2009, after a period of 6 years. The reasons for the initial reversal have been documented in Gill (2004). This paper will focus on the latter re-reversal from English back to Bahasa Malaysia which was announced recently in 2009 and is to be implemented in 2012. Decisions on language-in-education policy are impacted in varying degrees by various stakeholders – the politicians of the ruling party, linguists and parents. This paper will examine the underlying reasons for the change that led to a repositioning of Bahasa Malaysia as the language of education for Science and Mathematics. These include some “empirical studies” cited by the government which highlighted that the use of English as MOI (“Medium of Instruction”) disadvantaged certain groups of students, the various levels of English competency of the teachers and the students, the lack of time for proper training and implementation of the program, and the failure of ETeMS (English for Teaching Mathematics and Science) to improve English language proficiency among students. As these findings are discussed, the complexities of underlying agendas that underpin decision making on language-in-education policy are raised.


Language Policy Rural School National Language Rural Child English Language Proficiency 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social Sciences and HumanitiesUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia

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