By M. KRISHNAMOORTHY
KUALA LUMPUR: Science and Mathematics teachers may soon find themselves going back to school to brush up on their English.
Starting next month, the Education Ministry will be testing the thousands of teachers concerned in stages to see if they can teach the two crucial subjects competently in English.
Teacher training division director Wan Mustama Wan Abdul Hayat said the test was being conducted to establish their proficiency, to ensure that students were well taught.
”If they do not perform well, they will be required to attend courses in English,” he said in an interview.
According to him, the one-off evaluation is aimed at improving their communication skills and ensuring that they have a good command of the language in all areas, including vocabulary and pronunciation.
“We want them to attain a certain level of competency in teaching the subjects,” he added.
The test will have a written component, an assessment of listening skills and multiple-choice answers for the grammar section.
It is understood that testing will start next month in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu, and will initially involve teachers from selected primary and secondary schools.
However, all teachers – estimated to number around 60,000 – will be tested eventually.
The teaching of the two subjects in English was introduced in Year One, Form One and Lower Six in 2003.
Since then, many parents have voiced concerns over the quality of teaching, including in the media.
Their children, they said, were unable to follow the lessons properly as the teachers were less than proficient in English.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession has expressed reservations over the new move.
Secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said conducting the test for so many teachers and then holding English courses for those who were less proficient meant that the benefits would take a long time to reach students.
Instead, she said, the ministry should organise ongoing courses.
“Testing alone cannot determine if the teacher is proficient in the English language and has communication skills,” she said.
The ministry, she added, should also set up an online reference system to encourage teachers to take the initiative to check on pronunciation and other areas when in doubt.