The English language is a national liability
Posted by page-azimah on December 31 2015 23:15:29
To succeed, we must go English-medium
By Soo Wern Jun
Dec 28, 2015 12:00 PM

According to PAGE (Parents Action Group for Education) chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, the "forced compulsory must-pass" might have taken a long time to be approved due to the government not wanting to risk failing approximately 100,000 students out of 450,000 students who take the SPM every year.

"On the other hand, if they do implement it, everyone will work harder to pass the examinations.
Extended News
To succeed, we must go English-medium
By Soo Wern Jun
Dec 28, 2015 12:00 PM

With the government having made numerous flip-flops on implementing the English paper a must-pass subject for SPM, it has not only confused students but created uncertainties among teachers and schools.

Recently the government flip flopped again when it said in 2016, English will be a must-pass paper in SPM, only to recall the order.

According to PAGE (Parents Action Group for Education) chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, the "forced compulsory must-pass" might have taken a long time to be approved due to the government not wanting to risk failing approximately 100,000 students out of 450,000 students who take the SPM every year.

"On the other hand, if they do implement it, everyone will work harder to pass the examinations.

"Something is wrong with the education system that students are not being able to catch up the same in different areas. One of the Teach For Malaysia (a voluntary teaching NGO) teachers shared that a Form Four student in the rural area is still not able to differentiate the name of the colours," she says.

The passing mark for English is 6% but 100,000 students still cannot pass the paper. This is very worrying," says Noor Azimah.

She also said that one of the problems with the schools today is that the teachers are not up to par and are not creative with the way they teach.

"My daughter tried to volunteer at her old school, wanting to help students who were poor in one of the subjects, Add Maths, but the school principle rejected the help. They would rather let the situation deteriorate than accept help. Principals have to be open to ideas on how to improve the learning process," she says.

Noor Azimah points out that the situation is such because something was not done right while training the teachers.

She also highlighted that only 25% are reaching tertiary level.

"As a developing country status, it seems like as if we are at a reverse compared to our neighbouring countries.

"Let me cite an example. At Yayasan Saad Kolej, their newly opened business school has a team of students who have taken up a programme which sends them to New Zealand to do their professional papers. But only a handful of them made it as they could not pass their IELTS," she says.

This is the first batch of students who were supposed to go to New Zealand and those who failed had to retake the examination until they could get the required grades to qualify admittance to the institution in New Zealand.

"Even if you get your straight As, if you don't pass your IELTS, it's a no go and that was the condition.

"It never used to be like that for us back in the old days. We didn't have to take any English requirement tests. But over the years, our English has deteriorated and as far as these institutions are concerned, you must get the grades," she says.

English has become a national liability, says Noor Azimah, to the point that the deputy education minister P Kamalanathan is requesting everyone to come forward and volunteer their expertise in English.

"The language deteriorated when Malay medium schools existed. The government then said it will be allowed as long as they promised to maintain the English standards. But that did not happen, and they allowed English to deteriorate.”

Once upon a time, Bahasa Melayu was supposed to be turned into the language of knowledge.

"But what happened to the people who were assigned this task? They only appear when we are talking about developing the English language. They appear to cause trouble for us," she says,

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once said, people will not want to learn your language unless you are seen as a successful nation.

"Nobody wants to learn a language that did not help a country progress. Nobody wants to learn a language that is dying.

“Then there is the argument about China, Japan and Korea. They learn English to acquire knowledge,but they have already passed the goalpost, we haven’t even passed the first hurdle,” says Noor Azimah.

At the end of the day, Noor Azimah's challenge is to enhance English proficiency with the best method.

"There are suggestions to extend English subject hours. That will not help. We need to teach more subjects in English.

"You need to practise and not only learn it in school. You need to apply the language," says Noor Azimah.

Noor Azimah adds that the proposal to have English medium schools should be revisited and should not be abandoned altogether.

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