DESPITE the Government’s new policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malay-sia, it is nevertheless giving a lot of push and thrust to improve English teaching methods and standards. But sadly, at school level, it is not being followed and implemented.
My daughter studies in a secondary school popularly known as SMKDPT Masai, a premier school where all the 5As, 6As and 7As students from the nearby primary schools are placed.
Being a premier school and having all the top students from the schools around this area, the school has to set a high standard of teaching in English, but it is not so.
The teachers, including the Guru Besar, do not utter a single word in English even to a person like me who does not know Bahasa Malaysia. I am an Indian expatriate.
In India, I completed Standard 1 to Higher Secondary (here it is called STPM) in Tamil. But our English language syllabus was so strong, with two papers, one specifically in gram-mar.
Due to the strength of the Eng-lish language syllabus and the tea-ching methods employed, I could easily acquire proficiency in Eng-lish when I reached engineering college.
Governments may come out with a good education policy, but the success of the policy depends on the implementation at grassroots, largely on the Gurus Besar.
If the Government really wants to improve the standard of English, the Gurus Besar have to be trained first and they will automatically lead the team of teachers under them to the successful implementation of government policy.
But to cover up their weakness, or lack of affinity or proficiency in English, these teachers simply put the blame on the children from the rural or poor families.
I am from a poor family in a rural area, my mother is illiterate and my father a Physical Education teacher who cannot speak English.
How could I acquire proficiency in English? It was because of the teachers.
The Gurus Besar of all schools in Malaysia can do well to look at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has a good command of English despite being from a rural family. He mesmerised the Europeans and Ameri-cans when introducing the Multi-media Super Corridor.
If a person is good in communication skills, he/she is already 50% successful in his/her career. In this aspect, I am saddened whenever I interview Malaysian engineering graduates for industrial training or for a job.
They are good and intelligent in their Engineering subjects, but they cannot express and explain due to lack of proficiency in English. When they write a report, it confuses; I do not know whether he/she is explaining yesterday’s or today’s or tomorrow’s event as there is no grammar in their writing. How can these engineers submit a research paper in an international forum?
All Gurus Besar have to take up the development of English language skills among their students as a national mission.
In India, in order of respect, we place Guru (Teacher) one place above God and just two places below Matha (Mother) and Pitha (Father). God only creates human beings, but the Guru moulds the human being into a good human being.
Pasir Gudang, Johor.
Opinion, The Star, 30th March 2011