GEORGE TOWN, July 23 — The education ministry continuously focuses on placing trained and expert English teachers at rural schools to improve and strengthen student learning skills.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said the move was to support implementation of a compulsory pass in English at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level next year.

He said sending trained and expert English teachers to rural schools - among the programmes under the National Education Blueprint - was an ongoing process to ensure teachers were given enough training to strengthen the language.

“It’s an ongoing process in putting expert and trained teachers to help ‘hotspot’ schools in rural areas, mostly in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.

“There are not more than 200 schools we are focusing on, and hope to see the results next year,” he added.

Kamalanathan was speaking to reporters after officiating the Penang English Language Teachers (PELTS 2015) event themed ‘Creative and Innovative Learning and Teaching Practices for English as Second Language (ESL) Teachers’ here today.

The event was organised by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Kamalanathan said the compulsory pass was a policy decision aimed at addressing concerns on the English language ability of students and strengthen their grasp of the subject aimed at producing a knowledgeable generation to work in globalised workplaces.

He said in preparation for this, the ministry had begun training 61,000 teachers to be more proficient in the language, which was under the first wave of the National Education Development Plan (2013-2025).

“Generally, based on the existing SPM curriculum, only 20 per cent of students fail English every year and the new initiative is expected to reduce the figure, especially among schools situated in rural areas.” On PELTS, Kamalanathan hoped ESL teachers to make use of English literature and literary works to develop and stimulate the interest of the students in the process of learning the language.

PELTS, a one-day seminar gathered experts to help teachers in secondary schools in strengthening English teaching and share best practices, among others. — Bernama