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State government to help English proficiency programmes


Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg acknowledges the need for the state government to intervene in the efforts to improve the standard of English among students in the state.

He is concerned that the standard of English among Sarawakian students had declined over the years despite initiatives implemented by the Ministry of Education.

“The general consensus of the public, especially employers, is that it is declining.

“I understand that one of the constraints faced by the Education Department of Sarawak is the budget allocated was often insufficient because of the remote location of many of these schools in Sarawak,” he said when launching the Sarawak English Language Education Symposium (SELES) 2017 at a leading hotel here yesterday.

The three-day symposium is organised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR).

Abang Johari said his administration can intervene and support the department in critical areas namely training of teachers not only to be more proficient in the language but also to become more creative and innovative.

He said the state government could provide teaching and learning resources while supporting extra-curricular activities that encourage students to use the language such as debates, drama, elocution contests and essay competitions.

“The outcome of this symposium would help us to chart our programmes and initiatives.”

Touching on digital economy, Abang Johari said Sarawak must adopt a strategic shift in its economic transformation following a rapid pace of change driven by advances in information and communications technology.

“That is why the state has decided to develop digital economy as a game changer of Sarawak’s future.

“For us to be able to leverage on the rapid development of technology and the access to global markets, an important prerequisite is a good command of English,” he added.

He pointed out that proficiency in English language is necessary for accessing information, understanding and adopting new technologies, exploiting opportunities in international economies, excelling in knowledge domains and succeeding in global markets.

“English is the lingua franca of the Internet and the means by which children and youths from all over the world communicate ideas, values and visions of a future which will affect them,” he said.

Abang Johari said the state, while developing its digital economy, must have businesses and a workforce that could take advantage of the unprecedented economic development across the globe.

“For this to happen, our workforce must not only have the necessary technical skills but must also be proficient in English,” he added.

Among those present were Minister of MESTR Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee and permanent secretary to MESTR Dato Sudarsono Osman.