OPENING SPEECH BY Y.A.B. DATUK SERI PANGLIMA MUSA HAJI AMAN CHIEF MINISTER OF SABAH, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE STATE LEVEL ENGLISH DAY PROGRAMME BY THE SABAH STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT YEAR 2016, AT SMK SRI NANGKA, TUARAN
ON 16 FEBRUARY 2016
I am honoured to be here this morning at this meaningful and important event, one that will further transform education achievement in Sabah. In the last five years, public examination results of students in Sabah have shown tremendous improvement and I view this event as an effort to make further strides in bringing competency levels in this state to newer heights.
I wish to congratulate the Sabah Education Department on your initiative to organise the English Day programme and to announce Tuesdays as English Day for the education community, including for those who work in education offices. By not limiting the programme to schools, you are setting the right example.
We need to embark on continuous efforts to encourage the younger generation to be well versed in English. Although other languages are also widely spoken, English is the official medium of communication in many countries. It is estimated that the number of people worldwide who use English to communicate on a regular basis is two billion, which is about a third of the global population.
It is worrying to note that some students think that they can do well later on without mastering at least some of the key competencies in the English language. In a highly globalized world, it is necessary to be able to communicate in English as it is the dominant business language. Feedback from all over the world shows that cross-border business communication is most often conducted in English. This language’s importance in the global market place cannot be understated. Learning English can change your lives and we need to keep encouraging students to not shy away from this language.
For those who enjoy reading and other forms of media, many of the world’s top films, books and music are published and produced in English. By learning English, you will have access to a great wealth of knowledge and entertainment. About half of the content produced in the Internet is in English. This does translate into a huge amount of information that one could lose out on by ignoring the language. While learning English can be challenging and time consuming, it is necessary to make the sacrifice as it does open doors to many opportunities and to some extent, boosts innovation.
It is not an easy task to start with something new. Some resist speaking English as they regard it as glorification of a colonial language. Others shy away when they are labelled as showing off or being arrogant when they use the language. This is not a good situation to be in as it may demotivate those who are willing to brush up their English proficiency.
I understand there are a number of programmes run by the Education Department to upgrade the level of English achievement and the level of proficiency among users. Some 23 schools are currently taking part in the Highly Immersive Programme. This programme is meant to encourage the use of English as a medium of communication beyond the classroom. Another initiative is the Dual Language Programme through which Mathematics and Science are taught in English. Other than fulfilling the criteria set by the minister, schools need to conduct surveys to gain consensus from parents for this to proceed.
I am glad to welcome 15 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) from the United States of America to be part of the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English Language policy. Feedback from students and schools about this collaboration between the Malaysian and American governments has been positive. Apart from increasing interest among students, English language teachers are able to further develop their professional network and share classroom ideas, experiences and techniques with one another.
I wish to share that the Sabah Government is committed to seeing improvement of proficiency in English among students. We will work hand in hand especially with the Sabah Education Department to ensure basic needs in schools especially in rural and remote areas, are met. We hope this will reduce the gap between rural and urban areas and improve achievement among students. It is our collective responsibility to instil confidence in using this language so that it is used in daily communication and is not limited to just aiming to get the minimum requirement for passing it in exams.
I once again commend the Sabah Education Department for this effort to uplift the application of the English Language among students and the education community. I wish you all the best in successfully implementing this programme.
On that note, I am pleased to declare the “English Day Programme” officially launched.