The Education Ministry and stakeholders of the education sector need to make a comprehensive study to determine the cause of poor English language proficiency among students, rather than blame it on teachers’ poor grasp of the language.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Aminuddin Awang said they should identify the causes of students’ poor English performance instead of issuing a directive for English language option teachers to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).
"Our view is that besides shortage of option teachers there may be other factors such as environment or lack of motivation as students are not required to pass the English language subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination and so forth, so we have to sit down together to discuss the factors."
He was speaking to reporters after attending the NUTP English Language Education Seminar in Kuala Lumpur today.
On April 14, Education director-general Dr Amin Senin in a circular, issued a directive for teachers teaching English Language to sit for MUET, in order to review the level of English proficiency in line with the requirements set out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
According to the circular, all English language teachers should be at the minimum proficiency level of C1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
It was also notified that 20,634 teachers have yet to sit for any tests to determine their level of English proficiency and they were urged to sit for MUET.
However, Aminuddin said the English Language Education Reform Plan in Malaysia: The Roadmap 2015-2025 did not state the need to sit for MUET other than the CEFR.
Aminuddin reiterated that the NUTP is not in agreement with the directive as MUET is only taken by students who aim to further their university studies while teachers had attended various intensive exercises including the Cambridge Placement Test and APTIS-Assess English Skills organised by the British Council.
He also urged the Education Ministry to clarify who were the teachers required to sit for MUET.
"We want a confirmation on the teachers required to sit for MUET. Are they the English language option or non-English language option teachers as conflicting statements have been issued by the ministry," Aminuddin said.
He said NUTP also wanted to know what would happen to the teachers who would be sitting for MUET this November if they failed to achieve the level set, adding that the NUTP would meet with Education Minister Maszlee Malik to discuss the issue.