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‘Urgent need for state govt to step in to raise English proficiency’


Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong

KUCHING: Programmes and initiatives of the Ministry of Education and state Education Department have been inadequate to raise the level of proficiency in English among students in the state.

In pointing this out, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said there is an urgent need for the state government to step in and develop strategies and initiatives to complement the efforts.

“Two of the latest initiatives, the Dual Language Programme and Highly Immersive Programme, have yet to be fully implemented in all schools in Sarawak and it is too early to assess the effectiveness of these programmes.

“We need to come up with innovative and contextually sensitive approaches that not only improve proficiency but also possess the capacity to make Sarawakians global in mindset and competence,” he said before Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg launched the Sarawak English Language Education Symposium (SELES) 2017 yesterday.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research is organising the three-day symposium themed ‘Connecting the Dots: Curriculum, Classroom and Community’.

Manyin said the symposium, mooted by Abang Johari, is an initiative to provide a platform for educators to share their knowledge and best practices with one another.

“Participants can take home examples of activities and lessons that they can adapt to facilitate their own teaching of English. This symposium is not only to raise proficiency of in both the language and as creative teachers, but also to encourage the involvement of parents and the local community.”

Manyin said the symposium encouraged greater cooperation between stakeholders (curriculum and policy makers, academics and researchers, teachers and educators and various members of the community) involved in various English language initiatives in Sarawak.

It also served as an avenue to discuss recent international and local innovations, trends and concerns as well as challenges and solutions encountered in the field of English language education, he added.

“I hope that our participants will undertake honest evaluations of their current approaches and discuss these openly with their peers and the experts that we have invited so as to improve their own teaching effectiveness,” he said.

Prior to the launch, Singapore Institute of Management deputy principal John Yeo delivered his keynote address.

After the luncheon, two invited speakers gave their respective plenary sessions.

They were Prof Emeritus Peter Medgyes from Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary on ‘Who’s better: Natives or non-natives? Rethink our present language policies and practices’ and Dr Abdullah Nawi, deputy director (Corporate Communication and Branding) of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor – ‘Full STEAM Ahead: A case for the arts in nation-building’.