Billions Spent, Sarawak MOE still no clue how to Improve Proficiency in English

 It is the most ridiculous of policies that the State Government is now asking every ADUN to adopt a school and to come up with a “creative and interesting program” to improve the level of proficiency in the English language in schools.

Not only is such suggestion not workable, but it is an admission of the failure on the part of the Barisan Nasional Government that the BN’s education policies have failed to improve the proficiency in English of the students.

To that end, I have the following questions to ask of the Abang Jo’s administration on this ridiculous policy of the State Education Ministry:

1. Where have the Money allocated for MOE Gone?

Every year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) receives the largest bulk of the annual allocation amongst all ministries:
In 2017, MOE receives RM43.98 billion out of the total RM262.80 billion Federal budget.
In 2016, MOE received RM41.35 billion out of the total RM267.22 billion Federal budget.
In 2015, MOE receives RM40.84 billion out of the total RM273.93 billion Federal budget.

The MOE has all the funding to carry out all sorts of studies and implement programs in schools to improve the level of proficiency in the English language in schools. Yet, the Government is now asking individual ADUNs to formulate “creative programs” to help encourage students to use English language.

Where has the hundreds of millions Ringgit of allocations gone?

2. Have the policies of the Government failed to improve the proficiency of English of the students?

In November, 2015, I have asked a question on the usage of English language in schools. The reply I obtained from the Minister of Education was that the Ministry has implemented the following programs to improve the proficiency level of the English language amongst the students:

1. In 2016, the Government will allocate RM135 million to implement the Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia dan Memperkasa Bahasa Inggeris (MBMMBI) program which include:

(a) Transforming the English language curriculum (KBSR, KBSM, Program Leterasi & Numerasi 2.0, Ops-English dan Sistem Set);

(b) Strengthening the English language teachers (Pro-ELT, Pemantapan, pedagogi guru);

(c) Relocating English language teachers;

(d) Engaging experts, consultants and contract teachers;

(e) Building equipment, additional reading material and technology in information and communication in the teaching and learning of the English language (digital material and additional reading material and textbooks);

(f) participation of students in the language outside class; and

(g) publicity and campaign to strengthen the language

2. In 2016, the Government will also allocate RM38.5 million to implement the English High Immersive Program (HIP) in all schools and Dual language program in certain schools.

What has become of this allocation of RM173.5 million and what was the result of the numerous policies, eg. MBMMBI, HIP and DLP, which was implemented specifically for the improvement of the English language of the students in schools?

3. ADUNs are Policy Makers, NOT Qualified educationist?

ADUNs are merely legislators with different professional backgrounds. More than 90% of the ADUNs do not even have any teaching experience.

While the Government has spent hundreds of millions and even billions of Ringgit to engage experts in education, consultants and training teachers and yet they have failed to improve the standard of English in schools, what makes the State Government so certain that the elected ADUNs can do a better job than these experts and educators?

At the end of the day, different ADUNs will devise different programs, thinking that theirs are the best, and the students and teachers in the schools become guinea pigs of these ADUNs and the crazy idea of the State BN Government.

The current education policy is already bad enough, the State Government’s ridiculous suggestion may make matter even worse.

4. Since the State Government Claims that the success stories of SK Ulu Lubai and SK Ba’Kelalan, why not simply adopt the programs across the board for all schools?

The State Government kept mentioning that such initiatives and programs have been successfully implemented in SK Ulu Lubai and SK Ba’Kelalan.

If such were the case, then wouldn’t it be more practical and efficient to adopt such initiatives and programs across the board for all schools? Why does the Government not disclose the initiatives and programs applied in these 2 schools but on the other hand, asks the individual ADUNs to try to devise some creative programs?

5. When the Government has Spent RM38.5 million for the HIP but failed, how then can the ADUNs succeed in the same program without any funding?

In the State MOE’s letter, it was stated that the initiatives are to “compliment the English Highly Immersive Programmes (HIP).

This is exactly the same program stated in the parliamentary answer given to me which the Government allocated RM38.5 million to implement. When the Government has spent RM38.5 million on the program but did not get the desired effect, the State Government is now asking ADUNs to devise “creative and interesting programs” to make it a success without any funding at all.

This simply does not make any sense.

6. More than 1450 schools in Sarawak but Only 82 ADUNs

As at September, 2016, there are 1264 primary schools and 190 government secondary schools in Sarawak. However, there are only 82 ADUNs in Sarawak. No matter how one is to implement the program, more than 90% of the schools will be left out.

As such, the Ministry’s suggestion is simply very irresponsible and outright illogical. How can one discriminate one school against the other? What will be the criteria for selection?

The Government has 1.6 million strong government servant out of which about 25% is under the Ministry of Education.

It is just ridiculously illogical that where the more than 400,000 strong teachers and officers in MOE has failed to do the job, the Government turns to the 82 elected ADUNs most of whom are total strangers to education matter, to do the job.

DAP’s Proposal to Improve English Language Amongst Our Young

The only way to improve the standard of English language amongst our next generation is to revive the English Schools of the past and to use English as the medium of instruction.

The proposed usage of English language outside class while all subjects are taught in Bahasa Malaysia is simply not workable because it is human nature to tend to use the language which one is most comfortable with.

Even in DUN, many ADUNs when participating in their debates, tend to use Bahasa Malaysia which is their first language. If even mature adults and elected representatives also have such tendency, it would be most unrealistic to ask of the students in schools to speak English when all their subjects in class are taught in Bahasa Malaysia.

Therefore, to improve the standard of English of our next generation, there is no other way except to revive the English medium schools. That is also in the proposed policy of the Pakatan Harapan when it comes into power after the 14th General Elections.

Chong Chieng Jen
DAP Sarawak Chairman
National Pakatan Harapan Vice President
MP for Bandar Kuching / ADUN for Kota Sentosa