Onus on Education Ministry to help students master English — Fatimah

Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING, Sept 5: The Education Ministry must find other ways to help students improve their English if it is against the use of the global lingua franca as the medium of instruction in schools.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said using English as the medium of instruction in schools would ensure maximum contact hours.

She emphasised that students needed to be exposed to writing and communicating in English to strengthen their command of the language.

However, if the Education Ministry was not looking to amend laws such as the National Language Act or Education Act, then it had to seriously look into ways to improve the learning and teaching of English.

“I agree on the Federal Constitution as well as the stipulation under the National Language Act and Education Act. Education is still under the purview of the federal government. We are part of Malaysia and we are bound by the Federal Constitution.

“Unless there is a change in the law, which I doubt, the hard fact is that the Malay language is the legal medium of instruction in our schools. What we need to do is raise the standard of English among our students,” said Fatimah, when contacted yesterday.

Fatimah, previously minister-in-charge of education matters in the state, was responding to a statement by the Education Ministry that it was against the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools as it violates Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act as well as contravenes the letter and spirit of the Education Act 1996.

The ministry, in a written parliamentary reply to Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri when asked on its stance on Sarawak schools using English as the medium of instruction, said Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that Bahasa Malaysia is the national language.

The ministry suggested that raising the standard of English among students could be done through other methods that are in line with the law and present education policies.

Fatimah reminded Putrajaya to address the English teachers issue right from the recruitment level to training and posting of teachers to avoid the “square peg in a round hole” situation.

“School administrative heads and English teachers must have a strong commitment towards this agenda. They have to be creative and add value to the ministry’s programme to raise English standard,” she continued. — DayakDaily