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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Aug 13: English is a language of necessity and the Sarawak government is committed to ensuring children master it for quality education and for a brighter future.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised this in light of the state’s preparations to become the first in Malaysia to reintroduce the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. The initiative will kick off next year with Year One pupils.
“The English language plays a vital role as it functions as a master key that unlocks the doors of knowledge and skills,” he said, pointing out that many academic books and references were in English.
“It is, therefore, vitally important for us to know and understand English in order to gain relevant knowledge and skills from these media.”
Abang Johari said this at the 28th Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) International Conference 2019 held in a hotel here today. His text-of-speech was read out by Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.
Abang Johari emphasised that teaching children English was equivalent to equipping them with a necessary living skill that would ensure them a better future and life as well as to achieve excellence.
The development of a nation, he highlighted, was not only reflected by its infrastructure. There are many components that have to be looked at as well, including culture, lifestyle, education, political stability and communication.
“We need to have a good grasp of the English language in order to communicate effectively and appropriately. It is a necessity for us to use English to promote our thinking, lifestyles, opinions, and feelings to the world,” he said.
Education, he pointed out, is not just about the transmission of knowledge and mastery of a specific set of prescribed skills.
“Education today has to be about preparing children for a future where imagination and creativity pave the way forward.
“Quality education, therefore, is education that equips our children with the power of imagination, creativity and critical thinking — not merely to survive, but to thrive,” he added.
Abang Johari commended the theme of this year’s conference that focused on preparing children for a future where traditional ideas of education are no longer sufficient.
“Education must evolve to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, and the English language classroom is the perfect setting for promoting creativity and critical thinking whilst inculcating the right values,” he said.
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, Melta president Prof Ganakumaran Subramaniam Raja and Education deputy director general Dato Sulaiman Wak were present.
The conference provided participants and presenters with the opportunity to share their ideas and knowledge through paper presentations, workshops, and poster presentations.
Other unique sessions at the conference include the creative teacher showcase where teachers will be able to showcase best practices through innovative approaches; creative student-teacher showcase; and the creative higher education teacher showcase.
There were also presentations of the Raja Zarith Sofiah Corporate Social Responsibility Award, the Hyacinth Gaudart Outstanding English Language Teacher Award, the Melta Recognition Award and Melta Lifetime Contribution Award.
Melta is a voluntary, non-profit professional organisation that has been operating since 1958. — DayakDaily