Initiative To Prioritise English Receives Federal Support

KUCHING: The Sarawak government’s initiative to prioritise English in the state through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research has received the backing of the federal Education Ministry.

Deputy Minister of Education Senator Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the ministry is open for more discussions with the state government on the usage of English and to improve the proficiency of English among students.

Stressing the good command of English as critical and vital for competiveness in the job and global market, Chong said they may look into using the Common European English Framework to standardise English in Malaysian schools.

There should be more cooperation between the federal and Sarawak governments on how to utilise this European framework on English to improve and upgrade our standard.

With the keen support of the Sarawak government, we are very confident to improve our standard of English, and we should do that very quickly before seeing our English standard going on the decline, he said.

Chong, who was on a one-day visit to Sarawak, made these remarks to reporters after a courtesy call on Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin yesterday. Both Chong, and Manyin, also concurred that improving English proficiency must not be deemed as unpatriotic. Manyin said when he was a school principal, he spoke most of the time in English and was branded by a teacher as not being patriotic enough.

Bahasa Malaysia was introduced with certain purposes � one, to provide an identity for Malaysians and two, to unite the various communities. But I believe that these two purposes cannot be questioned as these have achieved the objective.

It is now about surviving in this modern world. We want our younger generation to master English, which is an international language and a language of commerce and science. It is not a question of being (un)patriotic, he said.

Chong also said that during Parliament sittings, he had to clarify that promoting the English language must not be related to patriotism.

No one wanted to challenge the status of Bahasa Malaysia, as it is already enshrined in the Federal Constitution as the official language. But when it comes to education, it is about teaching the younger generations the skills and survival, he said.

He pointed out that as far as the Education Ministry is concerned, it has implemented the Dual Language Programme and the Highly Immersive Programme, under the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening the English Language policy, to raise the level of English proficiency among students.

The Borneo Post had reported on Sunday on a move initiated by Manyin to install bilingual signboards in Bahasa Malaysia and English in schools state-wide, which is deemed as a shift in policy to promote greater usage of English in schools.

On a related note, Manyin�who was appointed to head the new Education, Science and Technological Research Minister on May 6�said he really looked forward towards working together with the federal government to resolve issues related to dilapidated schools, enhancement of the standard of English, and cultivating interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

He said he was grateful to meet Chong, who was the first top official from the federal Education Ministry to pay a courtesy call on him following his appointment.

I am eager and anxious to work together with the Education Ministry to overcome these challenges, he said.

Chong, in congratulating Manyin on the latter’s appointment, said it was a right move to have a minister focusing on developing the Sarawak education system.

Dato Sri (Manyin) was also very frank in saying 70 per cent of schools are categorised as ‘sekolah daif’ (dilapidated). This means more action needs to be taken to improve the situation. That’s why my visit to Sarawak is to look into these issues and bring them back to the minister. We are very concerned, and as far as Education Ministry is concerned, we want to help Sarawak, he said.

Chong had a meeting at the State Education Department and he visited SK Tambay, Samarahan and SK Asajaya Laut prior to the courtesy call on Manyin. He left for Kuala Lumpur yesterday evening.

Also present at the courtesy call were Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee; Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research permanent secretary Datu Sudarsono Osman; political secretary to the Chief Minister Tan Kai; and State Education deputy director Abang Mat Ali Abang Masagus.

Source: Borneo Post Online