State govt urged to consider taking charge of education
by Marilyn Ten, email@example.com. Posted on March 11, 2015, Wednesday
Baru (second left) speaking at the press conference alongside (from left) Joshua, See and Boniface.
KUCHING: The state government is urged to take back the responsibility of educating Sarawak’s younger generation.
Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said although it’s not an easy task, the history and track record of the state’s proficiency in English at one time served as a validation that the state government was better off taking the education system under its wing.
“Our forefathers who signed the Malaysia Agreement placed such high importance on English that we maintained the right to have English as one of our official languages. This right has never been relinquished and rightly so.
“I thus call on the state government to take back the responsibility of education as it appears that the standard (of English) began dropping when the late Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub handed control over to the federal government,” he told a press conference at state PKR headquarters here yesterday.
According to him, the state government would do much better than the Ministry of Education, which has only succeeded in producing two or three generations of Malaysians with poor English skills.
He also suggested that part of the state reserves of RM22 billion be utilised for the training of teachers.
“These are the means we can utilise to train the best teachers and that is how I believe we can improve and be top in English proficiency,” he said.
On the move to make English a must-pass subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations next year, Baru, who is also state PKR chairman, said that students would not be ready to achieve a pass in the subject by 2016.
“It is too soon to start implementing this in 2016 with the failure rate of English in Sarawak rising from 19.4 per cent in 2013 to 23.16 per cent in 2014 as disclosed by Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah recently.
“Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect next year’s results to be much different.”
Baru pointed out that if students throughout the country were already struggling with English, then the situation would be far more critical in the state, especially in rural areas where schools lack ‘everything, from infrastructure and equipment to human resources’.
“We appreciate that there are dedicated teachers in these schools but they are struggling with the lack of facilities. The students in these areas are already disadvantaged, and if the requirement for a pass in English is implemented next year, they would be at an even greater disadvantage.”
He said more had to be done to lift the standard of English in addition to the English Language Teacher Development Programme (ELTDP) with the British Council.
“Teaching Maths and Science in English will be a good start but we also need to encourage an English speaking and reading culture among the young by providing a good supply of books to school libraries.”
Another important factor, he added, was to have good foundation in English, which must be provided when students were still in primary school.
“In the 60s or 70s, Radio Sarawak ran an excellent Schools Broadcasting Service which was used by teachers in schools throughout Sarawak as an aid in teaching English.
“I believe we can do this again as internet connection is sadly inadequate in many rural schools and even television sets and reception still pose problems. But radio broadcasts are easily received throughout the state and such a programme is relatively easy to implement,” Baru suggested.
State PKR vice chairmen See Chee How and Boniface Willy Tumek as well as the party’s head of bureau in-charge of PKR land task force committee Joshua Jabeng were also present at the press conference.