Asia

Malaysia moves to improve students’ standard of English

Published: 4:02 AM, September 7, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, September 9, 2013
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KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian government emphasised the learning of English under a new education blueprint launched yesterday, while considering extending the school week by 10 hours.

There will be more time allocated for English as a subject in schools to increase students’ proficiency in the language. The move is to prepare students for 2016, the year from which it is compulsory to pass English for SPM secondary examinations, the Education Minister said.

Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by fifth-year secondary school students.

Education Minister Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin told reporters yesterday: “We’re currently looking into the possibility of extending students’ ‘contact time’ for English, and whether it would be viable to start this in single-session schools.

“Perhaps we could extend the school day by one or two hours. I think parents will not mind their children staying in school a bit longer, instead of being involved in unproductive activities.

“For example, if we extend the school day by just two hours, that’s an extra 10 hours a week.

“Compared with many developed countries, our school hours are not that long,” added Mr Muhyiddin, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, after launching the finalised version of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025. However, he did not specify a time frame for such an extension of hours.

Earlier in his speech, Mr Muhyiddin also said that while the ministry would continue to strengthen the role of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, equal emphasis would be given to English so as to “produce a global generation”.

English-language education lobbyists have pushed for the return of English-language education as an option, following the reversal of a previous policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in the language in 2010. The measure, seen as a bid to arrest the decline in the standard of English, could rile some Malay nationalists, local media reported.

The Education Ministry also confirmed yesterday that vernacular schools would continue to exist under the new National Education Blueprint launched yesterday, allaying the fears of Chinese and Tamil educationists.

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