NGO praises Sarawak for its firm stand on the English language

Ganakumaran (right) exchanging documents with Sasbadi managing director Law King Hui, witnessed by HRH Raja Nazhatul Shima and Manyin.

By Emellia Tamoh

KUCHING, August 13: Malaysian English Language Teachers Association (Melta) president Professor Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam has commended Sarawak for taking a strong stand on the importance of the English language.

He noted that despite the challenges faced in transforming the education system, Sarawak was the only state to take decisive and bold decisions about its education direction.

“The strong position taken by the state on developing English language literacy and implementing the dual language programme in Mathematics and Science is among the main reasons for Melta choosing Sarawak to host this conference,” he said at the 28th Melta International Conference held at a hotel here today.

He, thus, assured that Melta’s presence in Sarawak would not be a fleeting one, and pledged to work with English as well as Mathematics and Science teachers to overcome the challenges they were facing.

He pointed out that Malaysia, like most countries around the world, was engaged in a race to transform its education system to face internal pressures and external developments.

“Sometimes, it feels like we are trapped in a maze, not knowing which route to take or which challenge to deal with first.

“The challenges seem to be everywhere, including reforming the national curriculum, teacher education and improving the English language competency among learners and teachers,” he revealed.

Later at a press conference, Ganakumaran pointed out that the flip-flop on teaching English and resistance from some states were actually making Melta stronger.

“Yes, essentially the problem of shifting from one policy to perhaps another does confuse our teachers largely as well as parents and students.

“But this is where we, as a professional non-governmental organisation (NGO), our perspective are most needed. This is where we can step in and support the teachers in the areas that they lack.

“This is also why we continue to be innovative, like the agreements signed today to look at developing our own programme for training teachers,” he said.

On the Ministry of Education (MoE) having a lot of teachers training programmes, he, however, emphasised that teachers in Malaysia have so much needs.

“The ministry can come up with training programmes that are structured and centrally driven, but we are more flexible. We can address the needs of teachers on the ground, which are different from one location to another.

“That’s where we can come in to support our teachers’ development. We do not compete with the MoE but complement what they are doing through our efforts around the country,” he stressed.

On the conference, he disclosed that two special forums had been set up that would engage with the issue of English as a medium of instruction and teacher professional development.

Apart from the forum, several plenary and featured sessions will also deal with these issues from various perspectives.

The conference featured Melta entering into partnerships with Cahaya Educational And Training Academy (CETA) Sdn Bhd and Sasbadi Holdings. Themed ‘English Language Education and Society 5.0: Developing Sustainable Literacies’, the three-day conference that started today was attended by some 500 delegates from over 30 countries.

Puan Besar Perak Darul Ridzuan Her Royal Highness Raja Nazhatul Shima Almarhum Sultan Idris A’fifullah Shah, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong and Ministry of Education deputy director-general Dato Sulaiman Wak were present.

The goal of the Melta conferences was to provide educators access to various emerging discourses and perspectives related to English language teaching (ELT) from around the world. — DayakDaily