I READ with dismay “Idris: Many teachers not fit to teach” (The Star, Sept 11) that quoted our Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh on the quality of our English teachers.
It was reported that 70% of the 60,000 teachers who sat for the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) did not do well. About 30% were said to be unfit or incapable.
What the report did not highlight was that none of the English teachers was told of their results which they sat for some time last year.
Then early this year, a group of selected English teachers were called up by their respective district education offices and told they had to sit for another test and attend a course to improve their proficiency.
Another batch of English teachers will be called up soon, we hear.
To be fair to the English teachers, please release the results so that we know where we stand.
I agree that steps need to be taken to ensure that only teachers proficient in English should be allowed to teach.
Let’s look at today’s scenario. I am sure there are many unqualified ones among us. Who should we blame? Imagine to my horror some years back when a former student came to me for advice on whether she should take up the ministry’s offer to do a TESL course in one of the local universities. This student could not even string a sentence together without making errors.
In another case, I had to inform a lecturer that a trainee teacher under her supervision made too many mistakes in both her spoken and written English.
Due to lack of qualified teachers, even teachers with other qualifications were chosen to attend a one-year conversion course and later employed to teach.
It was assumed that graduates with a foreign degree could speak, write and of course teach English!
The outcome is the sorry state that we see today – low proficiency among schoolchildren and youths.
I laud the efforts taken by the ministry to change this.
Making English a compulsory subject to pass the SPM is a right step. I remember we had to pass Bahasa Malaysia by hook or by crook.
None of us complained then but took positive steps to ensure we would pass. It should be the same now for English.
The ministry’s plan to take in only the best to teach is another commendable measure.
Imagine in a teacher’s lifetime, how many students’ lives would have been touched by him?
For the sake of our future generations, let’s support the ministry’s noble objective.
However, to do all these, we do need qualified English teachers.
Instead of spending so much to send teachers overseas or hiring foreign experts, why not employ retired English teachers to guide the so-called unfit and incapable ones?