Hornbill Unleashed

December 24, 2012

Educators baffled by plan to ship in English teachers from India

Filed under: Education,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Zurairi AR

PAGE believes reintroducing PPSMI will do more for students than the proposed Indian tutors.

Putrajaya’s plan to import Indians to teach English in national schools appears to be meeting resistance from educators who doubt the government’s idea will help Malaysian students master the language.

Local English-language teachers and an education reform group polled by The Malaysian Insider voiced concern over what they saw as a short-term solution they said would unlikely benefit a multiracial class whose learning could be further hampered by coaches speaking in an unfamiliar accent.

“I think the question is, why do we need foreigners to teach Malaysians?” asked Khairun Nisa who teaches the language subject in a public high school in Manjung, Perak.

The 27-year-old debunked as myth the government’s claimed shortage of teachers in the language regarded as the lingua franca worldwide.

She said the existing teaching manpower was sufficient to coach students if merely passing school and national-level examinations were all the Ministry of Education (MOE) wanted.

“What are we trying to achieve? To what level of proficiency [do] we want our students to grasp?” she asked further.

“Teachers can’t even transfer into my district. Doesn’t that show that English teachers are enough?” she claimed, explaining that red tape was more to blame than an actual teacher shortage in the language subject.

Khairun said that the government would do better to train more local teachers rather than resorting to importing English-language teachers.

She said Putrajaya had previously shipped in foreign teachers, including native English speakers from the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2011, Malaysia started a negotiation with the US government to bring volunteer teachers under the Peace Corps programme, and 75 English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have been assigned since this year.

The ETAs came under the Fulbright English Teacher Assistantship programme jointly administered by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) and the Ministry of Education.

Khairun was baffled over the latest move to import non-native speakers to teach the language, a view echoed by Shawn Shim, who teaches in Austin Heights Schools, an international school located in Johor.

“It’s a bad idea from the government. They have a 1960s style,” Shim said, noting that India’s conservative education system focused on rote learning and memorisation.

“And their accent is hard to grasp,” he added.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim who heads an education reform group, the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), agreed.

“I think if you want to import teachers it must be English teachers, not even Irish and Scottish,” she said.

“Along the way we’ll develop our own intonation. We do have our own way of speaking English, and we should be proud of it,” added Noor Azimah, a parent who has been pushing the education ministry to return English as teaching medium in Mathematics and Science subjects, a policy that was abolished this year.

The two teachers rapped the government for having such a knee-jerk reaction to education issues, saying bringing in Indian nationals as English-language teachers was the latest in a growing list of quick-fix measures implemented by the MOE.

But Shim departed from Khairun in saying there was a dearth of teachers fluent in the language, which is crucial to carry out the national education plan.

Instead, he pinned it on the lack of communication skills among local teachers.

“Although a lot of them are trained, they don’t exactly speak English to each other… And even if they want to make a difference, people will want to bring them down,” he said.

As example, he related that he had attended several district-level meetings among English-language schoolteachers that were instead conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language.

But the two teachers noted that there were other external factors that have contributed to the decline of interest among local English language teachers.

“I like to do group work and presentations, sometimes mini treasure hunts. But the students complained when the class is all about ‘fun, fun, fun’.

“They’d say, ‘can’t we just sit and listen to you teach?’” she recounted.

According to Shim, a number of local teachers are unhappy with the amount of pay received by foreign teachers, and the rich spoils will play a major part in why Indian nationals will be keen to teach in Malaysia.

“On average, they earn around RM1,000 to RM1,500 per month in India, but they’ll receive between RM4,000 to RM8,000 here after conversion.

“Caucasian teachers, meanwhile, can get up to RM8,000 to RM10,000 after conversion. In private schools, [they] can get up to RM25,000,” he said.

He suggested that the government may likely prefer to hire the language teachers from India as they were cheaper than their American or British counterparts.

Khairun suggested that the government would be better off spending the extra cost incurred to hire and bring over foreign teachers on upgrading existing school facilities to provide a better classroom environment conducive for learning.

“Won’t you say a good learning environment helps student to learn better? We have the basics, but if we wanted funding to make the school more cheerful, we’d have to ask the PIBG,” she said, calling the Parent-Teacher Association by its initials in the national language.

Shim said if the government were serious about helping Malaysians truly master the language, it should reintroduce English as the medium of instruction for select subjects ― an idea that PAGE has been lobbying for over the past years.

“When we have our own effort to produce and develop teachers, we don’t have to import anymore,” PAGE’s Noor Azimah said.

“Currently, we’re trying to dumb down the curriculum to accommodate the various segments of society,” Shim said, and added, “We should actually raise the bar.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last week Malaysia planned to hire teachers from India to teach Malaysian students English.

His deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, gave his assurance that the Education Ministry will thoroughly study the proposed recruitment to ensure it meets the country’s education needs, in response to the National Union of the Teaching Profession’s call for an in-depth analysis to be carried out before rolling out the scheme.

“We will consider whether the English language teachers from India had Cambridge or Oxford (university) education and whether they can teach (the subject) well,” Muhyiddin who is also education minister, was reported by state news agency Bernama as saying in Terengganu yesterday.

There are around 70,000 English teachers in Malaysia, and according to Ministry of Education deputy director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, two-thirds of them failed to reach a proficient English level.

To address this, the government had made it compulsory for the teachers to pass the Cambridge Placement Test by 2015, or risk being moved to other roles.

The New Straits Times had reported that those who fail will be required to attend intensive eight-week courses that combine face-to-face training and 30 hours of online instruction per week.


  1. We have ample qualified and competent English speaking teachers who were often not given due recognition for their qualification and the professionalism to teach English. We must not all the Education Minister alone and a few of his inner circle to decide the fate of our education system and the teaching of English.

    Comment by Affendi Nawawi — December 25, 2012 @ 12:22 PM | Reply

    • allow….

      Comment by Affendi Nawawi — December 25, 2012 @ 12:23 PM | Reply

    • U-turn after GE13 … People not stupid .. why not employ orang utan from Kinabatangan to teach Monglish ?

      Comment by tigeryk — December 26, 2012 @ 6:17 AM | Reply

  2. First , we MUST blame that fake leader of all leaders …that old man – M . It was he who shed crocodile tears and told the nation we need English for Maths and Science in our education , more as an after-thought . When Abdullah scrapped his crooked bridge , the old man spewed bloody hatred without an iota of shame even to the extend to say publicly that Abdullah was not his chosen man…
    ( Would YOU trust such a man like HIM – that old man M ? )

    IF that old man was serious about ENGLISH Maths and Science today , PAGE would never even exist today – in fact the old man M will be making so much noise that the shame of this education minister will not stand a chance to even revert the policy…but then it happened – the shame of the so-called education minister ACTUALLY dropped the policy BECAUSE he was NEVER QUALIFIED IN the FIRST PLACE as was that old man M – sorry to say this , but we MUST chuck them OUT in the coming GE13 – BN/UMNO HAS CAUSED MORE DAMAGE to the people and nation…the BRITISH gave us ENGLISH and I AM GRATEFUL !!…but the people today are grateful to bn/umno for their LACK of thinking skills and crutches ?? God , open the people minds And eyes !

    Comment by teres6842550 — December 25, 2012 @ 12:01 AM | Reply

  3. We must keep UMNO led BN government from interfering with our eucation system. These guys are just manipulating our education system in the name of protecting the race and religion when the real agenda is to have a less than intelligent population which they can brainwash and manipulate.

    Comment by Affendi Nawawi — December 24, 2012 @ 9:47 PM | Reply

  4. Education the key to a better Malaysia

    Education the key to a better Malaysia — Hussaini Abdul Karim Malaysian Insider November 26, 2012

    NOV 26 — “Education is the most powerful weapon, we can use it to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela.

    The country needs to change for the better and whoever leads the government that will be determined by the results of the coming 13th general election (GE13) must make change happen as soon as possible and not just continue with rhetoric only.

    Given the political situation in the country now, and with the “help” of the Internet, regardless of whether it is spreading nuisance or pleasantries, I do not think it is possible for any coalition of political parties, either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, or individual political parties to win by a two-thirds majority anymore.

    Those days are already gone as hinted in the last general election when a political tsunami favouring the opposition happened. In the coming GE13, I think it is more realistic to believe that it will return results such as a simple majority, split votes or even a result that will culminate in a hung Parliament and there will be individuals who contest as independents or candidates who represent smaller political parties in selected constituencies to play the role of “kingmaker” after winning their respective contests in those constituencies.

    It is therefore “smart” for all political parties to think about how to handle the many fence-sitters all over the country; their number is perhaps more than the total number of voters with set minds, who will determine the outcome of GE13.

    In order to win, I suggest, all contestants in GE13, either coalition of political parties like Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, individual political parties or independent candidates to consider the following factors very seriously:

    (Since I am discussing education here, I shall confine this discussion to education only)

    Education may not be the “cure-all pill” to solve all diseases (problems) but it will definitely be able to solve many of the country’s existing and future problems.

    Many countries have proven that they are what they are today because of education, giving their citizens proper, high quality and the right education. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea are excellent examples.

    Education helps in national development, it is in fact a catalyst for national development, nation building, building solidarity especially in a multi-racial, multi religious country like ours; it helps in the development of our human capital to make them able to compete globally and they can also be independent and not depend on the government all the time.

    Whilst the Ministry of Education has made a policy decision to stop the use of the English language in national schools since 1982 when Bahasa Malaysia fully replaced English as the main language used, it seemed to be unsure whether to actually stop the use or to continue the use of the language. As such, from time to time flip-flop policies were introduced and implemented, confusing students and angering parents and teachers. To complicate matters and realising the lack of mastery in English among our students, from primary to university levels, several stop-gap measures were introduced and implemented by the ministry, and after spending a lot of money on them the result or outcome is still zero, zilch!

    Even as recent as two weeks ago the deputy prime minister, who is also the education minister, and his team were still evaluating programmes in Australia on the use of the English language in national schools.

    Our country’s education policy was changed in the early ‘70s and the one major change was to switch the use of the main language from English to Bahasa Malaysia. Fast forward to the 21st century, about 40 years or so later, the Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) latest report places our country’s education level at 55 out of 77 countries, i.e. in the bottom third, and in the report prepared by Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2012-13, our universities are not even listed in the top 400 in the world. If these are not the consequences of the policy change that the country has made in education, what are they then?

    Every progressive nation knows that the way to economic success and global prowess starts with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

    The perpetual discussion to increase the number of STEM students needs more than incentives offered to make it successful. Inevitably, a transformation of the science and mathematics curriculum is essential to revive interest in STEM.

    The improved teaching pedagogy must also be flexible and be able to evolve with the times. It needs to be more proactive to the fast changing world of science.

    Improvements for transformation must address the current method of learning science and teaching by rote, as this is no longer effective in this day and age. Science must be taught in a more enriching and interesting manner to keep the curiosity going.

    If we are to transform the way we do science, we must begin to transform the STEM teaching pedagogy, the continuous teacher-training programmes, and also the teachers.

    The current batch of science and mathematics teachers have the advantage in their ability to function in scientific English, making them more receptive and adaptable to learning at the same pace with the rest of the world.

    The seven years we have left to achieve Vision 2020 is a blink in time. We don’t just need a transformation but a revolution to jolt STEM education to get it up to the OECD average. This is why we need to do it in English. There are more enriching experiences and up-to-date information available and we need not spend unnecessarily.

    Countries like Serbia have opted to renew their STEM curriculum with La main à la pâte in stages in 2001 after their bad performance in the PISA test.

    This method encourages students to ask questions, experiment, make mistakes, and use their own resources to discover how and why things work.

    The latest science PISA 2010 result, although lower than the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, saw Serbia placed at 46th position, which is slightly higher than Malaysia at 55 out of 77 countries. The OECD average ranks at position 28.

    Our country, in spite of being placed lower, instead of doing something to improve the situation, just does not seem to care at all and insist on continuing to stick to a policy which has been in use for the last 30 years or so that has proven to be a failure. Many suggestions, ideas, proposals, all supported by proper studies, to improve the policy submitted by people from all walks of life, ranging from parents, students, practitioners, educationists, professionals, etc have all fallen on deaf ears.

    The majority of the people here recommend and support the use of more than one languages, or at least two with equal emphasis, for use in national schools but the authority concerned, and especially politicians from both sides of the divide, insist on sticking to just one, which is Bahasa Malaysia (BM), with only a token attention given to English and vernacular languages. What is so wrong in making our people bilingual?

    Subjects in the fields of science, medicine, technology, engineering, mathematics, for example, are best taught in English at the higher levels. Many local dons, scientists, doctors, engineers and mathematicians disagree and believe that they can be taught in BM but they forgot that they all mastered those subjects learning and researching them at overseas universities in the English language and I do not think they can be as good as they are if they did all that in Malay. Are there enough books and references written in BM for them to use and refer to at that level and are the people responsible to write or translate books and references in BM keeping abreast with the rapid development in the areas of study mentioned. So, why deprive the young people who are keen to study and carry out research to be as good as or even better than the best in the world from learning those subjects in English like what their seniors went through before?

    The US, with a population of 311 million people, needs 280,000 science and mathematics teachers by 2015 to ensure its global competitiveness. Malaysia, with a population of 27 million, has 400,000 teachers. On the basis of per capita population of science teachers’ equivalent to the US, we need 21,600 science and mathematics teachers or only 5 per cent of the total teacher population for our country.
    The Education Ministry should look at the syllabus and curriculum to teach and train our young to be educated and be smart. They must be taught and trained to be globally competitive as for them to get jobs or do business in a relatively small country like ours will not be easy anymore. They have no choice but to look elsewhere for jobs or do business. This makes learning in English very important and necessary.

    Many, including me, have criticised the Malaysian Education Blueprint, saying that the blueprint does not touch the basic issues and is not offering any progressive change at all.

    However, looking at the resolution prepared by Yayasan Selangor on behalf of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and comparing it the Blueprint, their six-statement resolution stated in their “Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara” is totally hopeless. While the Education Ministry in its blueprint is at least still willing to extend PPSMI until 2016 so that all students who started Form One using this policy can complete Form Five using the same policy, PKR wants to scrap PPSMI immediately and start the 2013 school year using Bahasa Malaysia, much to the chagrin of the majority of parents and students who have been, for the last three years, arguing for PPSMI to be retained or at least, increase the English language content to enhance MBMMBI.

    While it took the ministry from April this year starting with the countrywide National Education Dialogue involving thousands of Malaysians from all walks of life and culminating with the launching of the Blueprint on September 11 this year by the PM, PKR through Yayasan Selangor just took one Sunday at an event called “Konvensyen Halatuju Pendidikan Negara — Mereformasikan Pendidikan Negara”.

    The convention held at Unisel, Seksyen 7, Shah Alam discussed some papers presented by some retired professors, who have mostly passed their prime, and some disgruntled teachers and a school principal from Sabah and Sarawak in an attempt to show that the whole country is involved. It was attended by some 200 participants who predominantly came from just one community and only one state, i.e. Selangor, and came out with their resolution in the evening. This only shows how little emphasis they give to education in the country. The impression many people and I get is that (PKR) is either not interested in education or their way of treating important matters is just wishy-washy, at best.

    It looks like only the DAP in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition seems to support PPSMI and the use of the English language in national schools and a senior party member told me recently that his party members will keep adding the pressure to see how they can gather consensus in the group.

    Nonetheless, I believe BN is able to change the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 overnight and to make it people friendly, progressive and effective as they already have more than 2,500 ideas, suggestions and proposals that was collected by the ministry from the three-month town hall series of the National Education Dialogue that they organised.

    BN can always direct the ministry to make the necessary change. PR has none. In drawing up a better, a more progressive and a more effective people-friendly education policy, that is the advantage BN has over PR (Pakatan Rakyat).

    Education is also able to:

    Address and cure social ills

    The social ills include corruption at all levels, Mat Rempit, snatch thefts, drug addiction, baby dumping, wife beating, single mothers, child abuse, school bullies, playing truant, vandalism, reckless drivers, road bullies, cheating, rudeness, no ethics, selfish, racism, etc.

    Create law-abiding citizens

    Education can build civic-minded citizens, a caring society, good, loyal and responsible citizens and who are able to contribute to the nation’s development, build solidarity (perpaduan) in a multi-racial and multi-religious country like ours regardless of race, language or religion and instill in our young integrity and confidence, etc.

    Touching a bit on non-educational matters, please stop this nonsense of cash handouts, shops selling cheap goods and issuing discount cards to selected groups. Doing all that isn’t the way to a high-income nation. Our currency has low purchasing power and the subsidies are not directed to the relevant groups. Change that.

    Change incapable ministers, there are many of them. There are many good, qualified and capable individuals that BN can pick and choose as candidates to contest in GE13 and they may not necessarily be members of the parties in the coalition. Eradicate corruption, stop nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, the bane of our country’s progress and move towards being a high-income nation and First World status, which also gives us a very bad image in the international scene.

    Finally, practise meritocracy to the letter.

    Bringing English language teachers from India? Like that, habislah Malaysia!!!!!

    If BN wants to retain power, please listen to us the people and make the necessary changes.
    * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

    See here: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/education-the-key-to-a-better-malaysia-hussaini-abdul-karim/

    Comment by hak55 — December 24, 2012 @ 8:42 PM | Reply

  5. Typical knee-jerk reaction from the nin-com-poop Education minister. There are thousands of competent English teachers in the country to upgrade our English standard. There are also many qualified native English speaking foreign wives who could be recruited into the ministry to assist the teaching of English as well. The problem is our overall education system and poor planning by the education ministry which is the cause of English decline. Now this has proven that the teaching of Maths and English should not have been scrapped by the BN government.

    Comment by apai — December 24, 2012 @ 10:38 AM | Reply

    • halo apai, you have good suggestion, but you have forgotten we have a racist edu ministar who is malay 1st, how dare for you to suggest to get these non-malays to teach pertuananmalayus? since Ms Mariam M article (suggesting) that Bodohland is fast becoming 34th province of Indon, why not we get these ingeris teachers from Indon, this procurement also making these umno elites whose grandpas were from Indon very the happy,in time to come it would naturalised Bodohland to 34th province of Indon without force/violence ? of course to hire ingeris teachers from India also making mamaks beri the happy, good the gooder good yar !

      Comment by nainai — December 24, 2012 @ 11:24 AM | Reply

  6. Learn from Singapore

    Comment by tigeryk — December 24, 2012 @ 5:51 AM | Reply

    • learn from S’pore ? mana the boleh yoh, yoh, yoh, we are the Bodohland you know, expensiveThief always remark that Malays in S’pore kena sidelined, Screwed,etc.it seems Malays in S’pore are the MOST stupid race in the world, & we are ketuaanan,faham kah ?several negative remarks been made but lky never reply to DOG barking any way lol.

      Comment by nainai — December 24, 2012 @ 11:59 AM | Reply

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