THE Literacy and Numeracy Screening programme (Linus 2.0) will be taken a step further this year with earlier intervention measures introduced for students to ensure they are able to read and write, as well as possess basic arithmetic knowledge.
The Education Ministry's head of delivery management office Dr Noorliza Zakuan said this was to ensure that Year One students who have weak literacy and numeracy skills are given necessary attention right away rather than having to wait till they get to Year Two as what had been exercised in the past.
"We feel that it is very important to take pre-intervention measures on Year One students who are identified as weak (in literacy and numeracy) after the first screening, so as to increase their chances of improving in the identified areas," Noorliza said in an interview here recently.
Apart from that, she said the unit was also working closely with the Ministry of Health particularly to help identify whether the affected students had learning disabilities.
"Last year, about 2,000 students were identified with symptoms of learning disabilities. With the help of the Health Ministry, about 700 of them were confirmed and diagnosed to have learning disabilities. From the results, we were able to give appropriate assistance and intervention for the students."
Noorliza said previously, parents were only given recommendations to consult a doctor for further diagnosis, and given the option whether to proceed with the suggestion.
"This year, every student that is found to have weak literacy and numeracy skills must undergo a medical diagnosis," she said.
The programme, which is designed specifically for Year One to Year Three students, will also see some 450,000 Year One students screened for English literacy for the first time this year, a new cohort added to the Linus 2.0 as compared to the earlier edition of Linus which only focused on Bahasa Malaysia (literacy) and arithmetic (numeracy).
She said the baseline screening for the students would be carried out in May followed by the first screening scheduled in June.
"This is to determine the literacy level of the students and pinpoint those that need specific guidance in English," Noorliza said.
"English literacy screening was added to ensure that all students are literate in English starting from Year One in preparation for the need to pass English in the SPM."
Linus, which was introduced by the ministry in 2010, is a remedial programme specifically introduced to ensure pupils acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills at the end of three years of primary education.
It is aimed at pupils who are weak in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Noorliza said the programme has thus far been a resounding success. For the first batch of students who completed the three-year programme last year, 99.84 per cent passed the literacy screening while 99.92 per cent excelled in the numeracy screening.
She said the remaining 0.15 per cent and 0.08 per cent were made up of various categories of students, including slow learners and students from remote areas. "We will continue to work towards ensuring that these students acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, too."
Linus 2.0 will only conduct two screenings per year as opposed to three screenings previously, Noorliza said.
She said all teachers teaching Bahasa Malaysia and Mathematics in all primary schools nationwide are equipped to teach under Linus. The upskilling for Linus English will start in May for Year One English teachers.
MUHAMMED AHMAD HAMDAN | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Online General 19 April 2013