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Ministry to hold symposium to improve English


Manyin (third left) fields questions from the press. Also seen are (from left) Dr Abdul Rahman, Sudarsono, Rahayu, Hazelynn and Awangku Merali.

KUCHING: The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research will conduct a three-day Sarawak English Language Education Symposium (SELES) 2017 from Oct 23 at Pullman Hotel here.

Its minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin said the symposium would be attended by about 1, 200 people comprising academicians from UiTM, Unimas, Swinburne, Politeknik Kuching, Kolej Matrikulasi Sarawak, and Batu Lintang and Tun Abdul Razak teachers training institutes.

The participants will also include 900 teachers from all the 31 education districts and 200 stakeholders from Shell, Petronas, SEB and parent-teacher associations.

“The symposium will be a platform for sharing and discussion with us (ministry) to map out future programmes and activities to ultimately improve the standard of English in the state. It is also part of our programmes to improve the declining proficiency of English in the state,” Manyin told a press conference in his office here yesterday.

He added that local and foreign speakers had been invited to the symposium to share their thoughts on ways to improve the standard of English in the state.

Among the speakers will be deputy principal of Singapore Institute of Management John Yeo, Senior Fellow from Unesco Prof Charles Hopkins, chief executive officer of Tandemic and innovation lab based in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Kal Joffres, and Assoc Prof Dr Tamas Kiss and Assoc Prof Xian Jiatong from Liverpool University, China.

Manyin said the ministry was going ‘all out’ to improve English proficiency in the state without degrading Bahasa Malaysia, adding that English is the language of science, engineering and commerce throughout the world.

He added that Bahasa Malaysia was introduced with a noble cause to unite the people of various races and to provide an identity for the nation.

The minister said many European countries, which were quite reluctant to use English in the past, have acknowledged the importance of the language as the world’s lingua-franca.

He added that even China, South Korea and Japan, which used to be very nationalistic about their own language have started to learn English.

“If we (in Sarawak), don’t go for this (improving English proficiency), the people, particularly the younger generation will not be able to compete and participate in the digital economy.”

Manyin said the state has the leverage to use English under Article 152 of the Federal Constitution, ‘read together with’ Malaysia Agreement 1063 (MA63).

For that, he said English is being used during meetings, State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sittings and official correspondence.

Permanent secretary to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological  Research  Datu Sudarsona Osman  and his deputy Dr Abdul Rahman  Deen, Rahayu Ahmad  representing state Education director, organising committee chairman Awangku Merali Pengiran Mohamed and SELES secretary Hazelynn Rimbar were also present at the press conference held at Manyin’s office.