Perkasa: Can we implement Cambridge Accessible Tests properly?

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KUALA LUMPUR: Does the government have enough resources to implement the proposed Cambridge Accessible Tests (CATs), an English Language online teaching and learning method?

This is the question posed by Perkasa Education Bureau chairman Sirajuddin Salleh when asked to comment on the pioneer programme by the education ministry.

Recently, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid had said the CATs pioneer programme would start at the end of year and focus on rural students, before being fully implemented within two years.

“Generally, we can have any kind of test. The question is whether we can implement it properly. Do we have enough English teachers in rural areas?

“Like the Dual Language Programme (DLP), not every school can implement it. Even in Putrajaya, I don’t think every school can implement DLP.”

He said if the DLP couldn’t even be fully implemented in Putrajaya, how could it be carried out in areas like Kuala Kurau, Grik, and interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.

At the end of the day, Salleh said any education policy must ensure fairness and not only benefit those in urban areas, as this will result in a widening gap between urban and rural communities.

“So English is important, but we must ask ourselves if we can effectively carry out the programme (CATs),” he said at a press conference at the Perkasa headquarters.

Obsession with English

Meanwhile, Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali questioned the obsession with the mastery of English.

Although he acknowledged the importance of English, Ibrahim said there was no need for the country to be obsessed with English.

He said in countries like Germany and France, the people managed to progress even though they had a low mastery of English because they were “in the system”.

“If we enforce the use of Bahasa Malaysia and make it necessary for people to get a job, we too can progress.

“Why are we so obsessed? It is as if without English we cannot survive. It’s as if without English life cannot go on.”

At the press conference, Ibrahim also announced that Perkasa would be holding a roundtable discussion on the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) on April 1.

He said the problem with the UEC was that it was being viewed in a commercial and political perspective and this wasn’t how education policies should be implemented.

“Education must above everything else, embody the spirit of nationalism. Then we look at quality and curriculum.

“We want to discuss the UEC issue academically and professionally, beyond race and politics.

“After the roundtable, we will present a resolution to the government,” he said, adding the roundtable discussion would be attended by education and legal experts.

He said at present, Perkasa was against the UEC as it was developed by a private body when education should be state driven, but said in respect of knowledge, Perkasa was having the roundtable to exchange views on the matter.

In recent times, the UEC has become a contentious issue, especially during elections, with political parties trying to using it as a tool for political mileage.

Supporters of UEC say Malaysia stands to lose out by not recognising the certificate while critics say it isn’t in line with the National Education Policy.

Think tank calls for recognition of UEC