Its reasoning is that this move will raise the language competency of teachers and students, especially in rural schools.
As previously mentioned, most people have not been in favour of this drastic act. They argue that we have more than enough local English teachers to do the job.
The whole notion of bringing in outsiders is akin to a slap in the face for local English teachers. They are not wrong to feel this way, but neither are they completely right.
Yes, we do have a large number of local English language teachers, who may or may not be up to taking up the responsibility. However, one needs to bear in mind that not all of these teachers are qualified.
Perhaps technically they do — equipped with a teaching diploma and the proper training. In spite of this, they still lack one of the most basic qualifications of being a language teacher: proficiency.
Many of them struggle to construct a grammatically coherent sentence, but I do not blame them for that. I blame the system that has failed miserably in equipping them with the proper foundation.
But I digress, because that’s a matter to be discussed at another juncture. So yes, importing Indian teachers may be a step towards fixing the root problem in schools.
However, there is something more that can be done to sort out the language proficiency issue. I never actually knew about this until I spoke to a friend from university.
Being an English language lecturer myself, issues pertaining education concern me greatly.
Naturally, I took to social media to discuss this matter further. A friend, whom I’ve known from our varsity days some years back, reached out to me to shed light on matters that I had been unaware of.
When she completed her degree in teaching, she proceeded to complete her Kursus Perguruan Lepasan Ijazah (KPLI) course offered by the Education Ministry, after which she was given a chance to teach in a school in the east coast.
However, she couldn’t make it on the set date as her father had been diagnosed with throat cancer.
Being the only child left at home, she had no choice but to push aside her career and focus on taking care of her ailing father.
Unfortunately for her, the ministry took it as a refusal on her side and when the time came for her to pick up where she left off in terms of her career, she was left heartbroken when the ministry declined to give her another opportunity to teach, despite having the qualifications.
She has been re-appealing for the past few years but everything she said has fallen on deaf ears. It promised to reconsider her application if and when there are vacancies.
Now this is the part that I don’t quite understand. She is a fluent speaker and has a good grasp of the language, in addition to having a passion for teaching.
Coupled with her qualifications, she would make a great addition to the English language-teaching workforce. Yet, she is not given the chance to do so.
She happens to be one of those who can make a difference in shaping our children’s future, yet she isn’t given the opportunity to do so.
Here’s the alarming part of this predicament: she’s not the only one going through this. There are many others facing a similar quandary.
My question is, why? There is an opportunity to increase the employment rate in the teaching line, in addition to having qualified teachers in schools.
There probably isn’t even a need to bring in foreign aid if the locals are tapped into efficiently.
My friend, as with many others like her, have received similar explanations from the ministry: that their applications will be looked into if there are vacancies.
It’s clear that there are indeed vacancies. There is a need for good English language teachers to be absorbed into the workforce. So why aren’t they given a chance?
I can understand where the people are coming from when they protest the recruitment of English language teachers from India.
There is a saying in Malay, “anak kera di hutan disusu, anak sendiri di rumah kebuluran” — loosely translated to mean one who would rather focus on external matters when the more important, i.e. internal issues, are left hanging in the balance.
Perhaps it is high time that these issues are sorted out first.
Explanations should be given and steps need to be taken to solve this matter once and for all.
She believes in a tomorrow where there is no racism and hatred. Ashley Greig NST Home News Opinion Columnist 15 November 2015 @ 11:01 AM