IT is great that we can now look forward to an education blueprint that takes into account the views of all stakeholders.
Thus far, in all my years at school and college as a student, I have never come across any session where students do reading and comprehension. I think this is something that should be made compulsory at all levels of education -- primary to university.
It may sound silly that I have mentioned university but the fact remains that many of our graduates fail to communicate properly because of a lack of understanding of the languages that they are to communicate in.
Students who feel that they have a good command of any language may feel that they do not need to attend reading and comprehension classes, but I think they, too, can benefit from such classes as they seek to help students who are weaker in a particular language.
The more capable students may even find that they have improved themselves when they help weaker students.
Just a one-hour session every day or two to three times a week can work wonders. A language facilitator can be around during these one-hour sessions to help improve the students' understanding of the language.
There need not be tests as the result of these efforts can be checked by looking at how they are performing in all subjects.
The idea of not conducting tests is to remove the pressure that comes with tests. Attendance for these one-hour sessions should, however, be monitored strictly and be taken into account if a decision is to be made to bar a student from sitting for exams due to poor attendance.
The material for reading for these sessions can be suggested by the facilitator. If students are left to their own devices, some will not bring in anything to the class for reading.
Enthusiastic students will, of course, bring their own reading material as well.
There are resource centres and libraries at institutions but most students only use these facilities for assignment purposes.
And many do these assignments in a hurry, without really comprehending the material they are reading.
With a scheduled reading and comprehension session, the probability of getting whole classes to read and comprehend will be better.
I have seen schools that try to teach the un-teachable. Some are un-teachable because they are stubborn. Malaysian society is largely noble in trying to teach stubborn individuals and that is really commendable.
Capt P. George Oommen, Malaysian Maritime Academy, Malacca Source: New Straits Time Online Letters to the Editors 19 September 2012