A former education director-general cites an insufficiency of trained teachers to teach English and diverse educational landscapes as challenges.
PETALING JAYA: A former education official and an educationist have poured cold water on the proposal by a Sarawak deputy minister for the Education Act to be amended to ensure that students are proficient in both English and Bahasa Melayu.
Alimuddin Mohd Dom, a former director-general of education, raised concerns about the sufficiency of trained teachers, especially in rural and remote areas, to effectively teach English.
“English is similar to subjects like mathematics and science where students need to be taught and guided by teachers,” he told FMT.
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“Without teachers, students will find it difficult to follow. Unlike subjects like history, religious studies or geography, (where) students can understand concepts or topics by reading textbooks or reference books.”
If the intention is to make passing English a requirement for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia as well, Alimuddin said the diversity of schools and students across various localities would also need to be considered.
“A one-size-fits-all approach needs to be considered because we have more than 10,000 schools and over 5.4 million students in various types of localities,” he said.
Alimuddin was asked to comment on the call by Sarawak deputy education minister Dr Annuar Rapaee for the federal education ministry to amend the Education Act to make it compulsory for all students to master both English and Bahasa Melayu, as well as their respective mother tongues.
According to the Borneo Post, Annuar said this would prevent education minister Fadhlina Sidek’s pledge to improve the English proficiency of students from ending up as mere “lip service”.
Meanwhile, Anuar Ahmad of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said priority should be on improving the effectiveness of teaching Bahasa Melayu and English in schools.
To do so, he said some form of assessment would be needed to gauge the language proficiency of students, especially in the absence of UPSR.
“That’s why, in my opinion, we need to have an assessment for Bahasa Melayu and English proficiency at the end of Year 3,” said Anuar, who is also the secretary of the National Council of Professors’ education and human resources cluster.