KUCHING, Oct 20: Headmasters and principals are required to use English during school assemblies while students are encouraged to speak English once they have entered the school compound.
When students are in class, however, they will switch back to the medium of instruction which is Bahasa Malaysia.
“The moment they enter the school compound, no other language (must be spoken) except English. But once they enter the classroom, they must use the medium of instruction. But outside, as long as they are in the school compound, they should use English, whether they are students, teachers or parents.
“That was done in SK Ulu Lubai and SK Bakelalan. These schools have been doing this for a few years and now if you go there, from Primary One to Six, the students are quite fluent in English,” said Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin in a press conference for Sarawak English Language Education Symposium 2017 at his office at Bangunan Baitul Makmur today.
He said his ministry had sent circulars to the Education Director who in turn will have to instruct every school to conduct assemblies in English.
“My ministry has sent a circular to the Director of Education, asking the Director of Education to send circulars to all the schools, that headmasters and principals use English in school assemblies and to start it with, ‘Salam Negara Ku Malaysia. A very good morning. How are you this morning?’ ”
“And the students may answer ‘Fine, thank you, sir’,” said Manyin.
He said these are ways to encourage students and parents and even teachers who were not comfortable conversing in English to practise using the language more.
Other efforts include setting up Science signage in English and stating the Rukun Negara in English, not just Bahasa Malaysia.
“We also sent circulars to all the YBs (elected representatives), including the opposition ones to encourage them, not compulsory, to adopt one or even more schools in their own constituencies, and to encourage them to speak in English,” he said.
He said since he had taken over the ministry, he has been trying to improve English language proficiency in schools which he believed was declining, and also the performances of Sarawak schools in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.
“Our state’s overall performance is only 23 per cent against the national target of 60 per cent. This means that only 23 per cent of our students would be qualified to enter Science classes in Form 4,” explained Manyin. – DayakDaily.