Study to gauge standard of English at preschools

Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing permanent secretary Megir Gumbek (seated left) and Chuah (right) signing the memorandum of agreement, witnessed by Fatimah (centre). — SYAQUERA RAWING / The Star

KUCHING: The Teacher Education Institute Batu Lintang Campus (IPGBL) will carry out a study on its English early literacy programme in preschools in Betong and Lubok Antu this year.

The study, supported by the state government, will look at the programme’s effectiveness in improving English language skills among preschool children as well as the teaching of English in the institution.

A memorandum of agreement on the study was signed between the state government, represented by the Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Ministry, and IPGBL yesterday.

Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said this showed the state government’s seriousness in enhancing English proficiency among Sarawakians.

“If we want to improve the language skills of our children, we need to start from preschool. This is geared towards what the state government is emphasising, that Sarawakians must be able to speak more than one language and they must be proficient not only in Bahasa Malaysia but also English,” she told reporters after witnessing the signing of the agreement.

Fatimah said a trial run of the programme had been implemented at an IPGBL preschool and found to be effective, so it was now being expanded to 30 preschools under the study to evaluate its impact.

“We hope this study will proceed smoothly and achieve its objectives because we want it to have a positive impact on our children in learning English,” she said.

Senior lecturer Chuah Kim Hwa, who signed the agreement on behalf of IPGBL, said the English early literacy programme was being developed by the institute in collaboration with preschool teachers and would be finalised by the end of August.

“We started developing the module in February this year to enhance the delivery system provided by the Education Ministry. We are now expanding it to Betong and Lubok Antu to see its impact on more schools and pupils,” she said.

Chuah said 10 preschools in Lubok Antu and 20 in Betong would be involved in the study as both districts had a low number of Year One pupils with basic English literacy based on the Education Ministry’s Literacy and Numeracy Screening (Linus) data.

“One of the study’s objectives is to improve the reading skills of preschool pupils, as well as improve the delivery and teaching of English.

“We are using action research methodology and it will take about six months for us to complete it,” she said, adding that IPGBL hoped to submit its report by December.

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