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by Emellia Tamoh
KUCHING, August 13: Raja Puan Besar Perak Her Royal Highness Raja Nazhatul Shima Al-marhum Sultan Idris Shah proposed that everyone involved with education look beyond micro-economic and ideological formulations to address the larger and broader national welfare and aspirational needs by committing to developing a system that will take this nation forward.
“It is quite impossible to be detached from education issues in Malaysia. We are a nation that places a great deal of importance on the delivery of quality education,” she said in her royal address at the 28th Malaysian English Language Teacher Association (Melta) International Conference here today.
“This is reflected in the fact that the education sector consistently receives the largest allocation from the government’s annual budget. Education is indeed the key to our nation’s success,” she added.
HRH Raja Nazhatul noted that English language education was an issue that has been greatly debated.
“The decline in the standard of English over several decades has now reached a point that makes improving the teaching of English extremely challenging.
“The theme of this year’s conference looks to the future of English language education. Society 5.0 is an aspiration for the future,” she added.
Acknowledging that artificial intelligence (AI) will likely play an important role in Society 5.0 including education, she alos pointed out that it was time for Malaysia to be more readily embrace AI in English language teaching.
“India for example used English Language Speaking Assistant (ELSA) to improve the speaking skills of English learners while in China, AI has been used to develop an English-language curriculum for Mathematics.
“As we embrace technology, we must remain cognizant of the fact that the continuing development of technology and scientific innovation widens the gap between those with access to quality education and those struggling to acquire even the most basic education,” she said.
Citing a 2018 progress report by the United Nations (UN), she said it showed that more than half of children and adolescents worldwide were not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and Mathematics despite initiatives on the ground to realise Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“Hence, refocused efforts are needed to improve the quality of education. The lesson for Malaysia in all this is that as we move forward, let us not leave people behind,” she emphasised.
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.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, Ministry of Education deputy director-general Dato Sulaiman Wak and Melta president Prof Ganakumaran Subramaniam Raja were also present.
The conference provided participants and presenters the opportunity to share their ideas and knowledge through paper presentations, workshops, and poster presentations.
Other sessions at the conference include the creative teacher showcase where teachers will be able to showcase best practices through innovative approaches; the creative student teacher showcase; and the creative higher education teacher showcase.
The event also witnessed the presentation 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 operating since 1958. — DayakDaily