PETALING JAYA: Stakeholders welcome the use of imported textbooks, but are sceptical about whether teachers will be able to cope with the foreign standards.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said having the “right” textbooks was vital.
“There are many English textbooks that are better than the ones published specifically for our schools,” she said.
“The problem lies not with the books but the quality of teachers.
“If teachers with ‘a little bit of English’ are chosen, the programme will surely fail.”
She added that while the nation was moving towards the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages-centric (CEFR) syllabus, which was a good move, the parents’ group had reservations, noting that having these books required time and effort to ensure its benefits.
“Textbooks can change, but everything has to follow suit,” she said.
Noor Azimah also said teachers needed to change their ways to adapt to the new curriculum to improve the quality of English language teaching.
“The problem will also come from designing test papers, which teachers are tasked with,” she said.
Parent Choo Yen Li agreed that the switch to imported textbooks was a good move.
However, she said it was important that any problems be identified during the roll-out and be solved immediately.
This would lessen the pressure on students, teachers and parents, she added.
“Our education system and its direction constantly changes,” said the mother of two primary school pupils.
Secondary school English teacher Mohd Sirhajwan Idek said what mattered most was the approach teachers adopted in using the materials effectively.
The National Teacher Icon Award winner added that it was essential for teachers to keep improving themselves and upgrading their skills through the Continuing Professional Development programme.
Educationist Devinder Raj expressed scepticism about the foreign textbooks.
He said they were not culturally appropriate, especially for rural students who may not know what the four seasons are, or the festivals or buildings in Britain.
He suggested that the Education Ministry talk to book publishers to change items such as names and places to reflect Malaysian culture so that it would be easier for students to grasp the language concepts in the books.