Declare crisis over lack of English teachers, advisory council member tells govt

National Education Advisory Council member Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman says the country is short of 2,000 English language teachers. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: An education ministry advisory council member has raised concerns over the shortage of English teachers in the country, saying the problem can only be solved if the government recognises it as a crisis.

National Education Advisory Council member Noor Azimah Abdul Rahman said the country was short of 2,000 English language teachers. In addition, she said, about 1,000 were retiring every year.

“How will we ever close that gap? Unless the government comes to say that we have a national crisis, it will be difficult to bridge that gap,” she said at the National Education and Learning Summit 2019, here, today.

The chairman of the Parent Action Group for Education added that her organisation had been asking for the establishment of English-medium schools at every state to produce English language teachers.

“If we keep thinking that our Malay-medium schools will produce these teachers, it is not going to happen. We have been dreaming all these years. So we have to come up with a new model as far as English is concerned,” she said.

Azimah also said they had been pushing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to be taught in English.

Other than the language problem, the STEM programme is difficult to achieve as most of the school labs are in poor condition, she said.

“We (council members) wanted the science labs to be operational in 2019. Unfortunately, along the way, we discovered that there had been a lot of siphoning of funds,” she said.

She cautioned that until the science labs were better equipped, the country would not be able to move forward and to bring back the love for the science stream or achieve the target of 270,000 students in STEM.

“Our Science stream numbers are falling. We had 200,203 students in 2012 and it fell to 180,000 students in 2017,” she said.

Azimah also raised concerns over funding for education as Putrajaya bails out several government agencies such as Felda and Tabung Haji.

She said the education ministry was given a budget of RM60 billion under the 2019 federal budget.

“Of the RM60 billion, over 80% goes to teachers’ salaries and allowances, so what really is left for the children?” she asked.