Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Primary School Students In Kuantan Weak In English Grammar. Should We Be Surprised?

From TheStar update today.

Pupils in primary schools here were mainly found to be weak in English grammar and vocabulary and teachers were reminded to take the initiatives to overcome the problem.

According to Kuantan district education officer Yahya Zainal Abidin, one of the reasons was because the pupils read less English books. On this, Yahya said he was working on a project that would involve Year Five pupils, who were good in English, to be a mentor or model for their friends.

"It is better to start them from Year Five rather than Year Six, a year earlier may do good for them. I am now working on the matter on how to generate the interest and encourage those who are poor in English to emulate their friends who are better in the language,'' he said.

***** The shortsighted policies instituted decades ago for purely political reasons have now come back to haunt us. Year after year we churn out students who are pathetically hopeless in English. Those who have some competency are from either bigger towns or from families who had realized the importance of having a good command of the language.

The most affected by these policies which remarkably lack in foresight, are the poor kampung dwellers and other rural folk, who never really stood a chance from the very beginning. To add to this mess, the government from time to time changes its direction, blowing hot and cold towards serious implementation of plans to improve English competency. Once in a while the education authorities seem to come to their senses and unveil workable schemes. However chauvinistic forces inevitably get into the picture, raising a hue and cry about the national language being downgraded and ignored. The next second, on the orders of senior politicians with an eye to popularity and votes, the plans are reversed and linguistic standards continue to slide.

For such is the sad tale of a country ruled by people who either pretend or genuinely don't know what the people really need.
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3 Comments:

Blogger walski69 said...

I doesn't thinking we is should be very worry. Is very biasa when a language teaching as subject only, is not much improve or student can better. Even talk English sometime other friend think we one kind.

WHAPPP!! Okay... the whack on the head (virtually) has brought me back to my linguistic senses...

What I wonder though... why even wait till Year 5? There are kids (perhaps not many anymore) fortunate enough to have grown up in bi- or multi-ligual homes (with English being spoken as the second or sometimes 3rd language), and whose reasonably good command of English should be used from as early an age as possible. That said, the mentoring idea is a good one.

The bigger problem, as you've rightly mentioned, is the wishy-washy treatment the ENTIRE education curriculum's been subjected to, where political expediency is usually more important that real results.

My dad, who used to be in the Education Ministry, lamented that each change of guard brought about a change in direction and priorities. Programs which were half-baked (sometimes plain raw) were hastily implemented simply to make the Minister du jour appear to be doing something.

In other words, screwing around with our kids' future, just to make someone look good politically.

Then, you have the Malay language fascists, which add another dimension of muddlesomeness. And because these folk are perceived to contribute to the vote count, their view, too, are frequently pandered to.

What Malaysia needs is a no-nonsense DG of Education who cares fuck-all for any overt or covert political whimsy... one who posseses the testicular fortitude to ensure that whatever is to be implemented gets implemented properly and after PROPER planning and study. What's good may not be what's popular, but if it's done with the best interest of our kids in mind, history will be a lot more forgiving.

Unfortunately, what happens in reality is whatever gets done, supposedly for our kids' benefit, is frequently only for the near-sighted benefit of some political animal...

12:32 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The politics of language nationalism screwed up alot of things in Malaysia. But then, nothing is ever surprising nowadays in Bodohland. Maybe should "glocalized" Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Malaysia language?? But first let some pea-brained politicians decide which name is better, "U-turned" decisions. In the past, Bahasa Melayu, today Bahasa Malaysia, maybe change again tomorrow? Anyway, there is no "education" in this country, everybody is just being "schooled."

9:53 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonder why our previous/present Minister of education send their sons/daughters for English education?? Then those senior public servants follow suit?? Is it to creat an ellite class to rule over the kampung folks Malaysians?
Then their Dynasty would prolong & rule Malaysia for generations to come!
If these politicians are so proud of the education policy, then they should not send their sons/daughters to International Schools or (English medium)foreign Universities. Najib, Hishamuddin, Rafidah, who else.....??

2:09 PM GMT+8  

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