The Sarawak Teachers’ Union said the move was “the minimum measure” the Government should take in order to improve the command of the language in the country.
Its president William Ghani Bina brushed off concerns about students from rural areas who were speculated to lose out should the move come to pass.
“Many non-Malay students learn Bahasa Malaysia as a second language and they are able to master it. Why then are we worried about our students being unable to excel in English as well?” said the seasoned teacher.
The bigger concern for him, however, was the insufficient number of qualified English language teachers, which was echoed by both the Sabah Teachers’ Union (STU) and the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP).
STU president Suhaimi Othman said although the proposal would improve command of the language, the move should be implemented in stages.
“The Education Ministry should conduct comprehensive research to determine the best timeframe to execute the plan, so that students and teachers are not caught by shock of the sudden transition,” Suhaimi said.
He said a grace period should be allowed for the ministry to increase the number of teachers and to prepare the current batch of younger students for the SPM examination.
NUTP president Hashim Adnan said although it strongly supported the move, there were not enough English teachers currently.
He said the ministry must ensure there were enough teachers for every school for the move to be successful. ~The Star 11/6/09