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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 4: Sarawak cannot afford to fail when implementing the teaching of science and mathematics in English as the state will play a pioneering role in this endeavour and, hopefully, be the role model for other states to emulate.
Extensive preparations are underway to ensure schools in the state are ready for its implementation come January 1 next year, if everything goes well.
The biggest concern to ensure this programme achieved the desired outcome is the availability of quality and qualified teachers to teach these subjects in English, said Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.
With the responsibility heaped on his shoulders, he admitted that he and the entire education sector in the state were getting nervous even at the preliminary planning stage as there were many questions still left unanswered.
“I met with the education officers yesterday and discussed what to do, where to start, whether Primary One or Form One, how to implement, and when to roll it out.
“Other major concerns besides the availability of competent teachers include what sort of materials are required. These are questions that need to be answered and there are a lot of preparations to be done,” he revealed.
Manyin highlighted this after officiating at the Gerakan Massa ‘Thank You, Teachers’ launching ceremony held in conjunction with the state-level Teachers’ Day celebration at Mydin Hypermarket in Petra Jaya, here, today.
The state Education Department has been tasked to come up with a proper plan that details the required budget to prepare and implement the programme, including for teachers’ training and materials for teaching and learning.
“So, if all goes well, we would like to start tentatively next year for Primary One before Primary Two and up to Primary Six for all schools, but depends on whether we have the budget.
“But it is not a decision yet because we are still in the preliminary stage, trying to find out what are the things required, how to train, the sufficiency of teachers and whether allocations are enough in order to achieve the desired outcome,” he said.
On whether the Education Department and relevant stakeholders had enough time to prepare for its implementation considering there are only six months to go, Manyin remained optimistic, as long as the budget allocated is sufficient.
“The biggest concern is that the teachers must major or specialised in science and mathematics and the training will focus on improving their proficiency in English,” he explained.
On the sufficiency of specialised teachers, he said there were enough science and mathematics teachers overall but may face uneven distribution as the majority of the teachers are proficient in teaching in Bahasa Malaysia.
As for the rural areas, Manyin added that it would not be a problem for rural students to cope and keep up as the focus was not on English grammar and it also applied to the teachers, who would be taught to communicate in English so to be able to deliver in their teachings.
“My advice is to go to the schools, encourage them to speak English, but don’t try to pick on their grammar or mistake. ‘Gasak-gasak saja’ (go ahead without fear), don’t bother about grammar or mistakes so long as the students have the courage to speak and build their confidence,” he pointed out.
To another question, Manyin explained that it would not be compulsory for vernacular schools like Chinese schools to follow the programme as they can choose whether to implement or otherwise.
Emphasising that the state government would take this big challenge from the federal government seriously, he appealed to not only the whole education sector but also parents and the entire community to work together and support this initiative.
“We feel honoured for Sarawak to start this off. With all of us working together, we can take the great leap and start this off in 2020.
“We cannot take this lightly because we are the pioneer of this programme and once proven successful, the whole country can follow as we will become the model state,” he said.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik had offered this proposal during a meeting on April 24 with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who, without hesitation, took up the challenge.
On the Teachers’ Day celebration, Manyin reminded the people not to forget and take for granted the sacrifices and contributions of educators in nation building and human capital development.
“It is teachers who made our leaders, doctors, engineers, astronauts and all the professionals into successful people and every great person out there.
“The progress of a country is highly dependent on education, and the drivers are the teachers and educators.
“We recognise your important contributions to society and please continue your journey, we are all behind you,” he added.
A highlight of the event was the launching of RM1 for Educators in Sarawak Fund and flagging off of the Sarawak Teacher’s Bikers Club.
State education director Dr Azhar Ahmad, organising chairman Yul Haidzir Razali Bujang as well as guests-of-honour, former head of state Tun Muhammad Salahuddin and his wife, Toh Puan Norkiah, were among those present. — DayakDaily