PETALING JAYA: A Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year in a move to boost proficiency in the language.
Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021, Examinations Syndicate director of examinations Adzman Talib said.
The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama, he said.
Among others, these students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embracing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).
The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (by William Butler Yeats).
Under a pilot project which started in 2017, 300 Form Four students from seven schools in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak sat for the International General Certificate in Secondary Education (IGCSE) English Literature exam in June 2018 instead of the SPM English Literature paper.
Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin explained that re-branding the English Literature curriculum was among the ministry’s efforts to enhance the English proficiency of students.
The new Standards-Based English Literature Curriculum for Secondary Schools emphasises the importance of sustaining the use of the English language within and beyond the classroom.
The elective subject serves as preparation for studying language or literature at higher levels as well as to enrich students’ knowledge of English, he said.
To encourage uptake among STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students, the 2021 English Literature exam will be held either in June or July, said Amin.
“This is to alleviate the stress of sitting for many subjects in November and to encourage more students to learn this subject,” he said.
Amin said the ministry wanted to encourage all students, including those in the science and technical fields, to learn this subject, as it would help improve their command of the language through the exposure and study of both local and international texts.
Literature, he said, would improve their proficiency while enhancing their knowledge of history and cultures.
“It also provides vicarious experiences through reading and promotes critical thinking and analytical skills,” he said.
The English Language Teaching Centre and the ministry’s master trainers will train teachers who are interested.
Those with a background in English Literature can be re-posted to the states of their choice.
State education departments will promote the subject at premier and residential schools and oversee the implementation of the new curriculum.
Last year, only 195 students sat for the SPM English Literature exam, compared to 476 in 2017.