MALAYSIAN students undertaking the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) as a pathway towards tertiary education can now choose Bahasa Melayu as a subject.
The Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay (0696) syllabus, introduced recently by the Cambridge Assessment International Education, offers a higher level and more challenging studies in Bahasa Melayu.
Schools can start teaching the syllabus in September next year, with the first exam being set for June 2021.
Prior to its introduction, Cambridge IGCSE offers only the Malay Foreign Language (0546) subject for students with no basic grounding in Bahasa Melayu.
Cambridge Assessment International Education Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt said the 0696 syllabus is catered for Malay native speakers.
Candidates should have studied a Malay-language curriculum at lower secondary level or an equivalent national education framework.
“We regularly review and update the programmes and qualifications that we offer to ensure they reflect the latest developments in teaching and learning in each country.
“These updates are implemented to ensure that what we offer is parallel to the needs of schools around the world. In Malaysia, there is growing demand for a first language qualification in Bahasa Melayu.
“This is a positive sign that native speakers are looking to advance their comprehension skills, and want to learn to respond knowledgeably and critically on a wide range of topics. With that, we are excited to introduce the Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay,” said Schmidt.
“We will hold discussions with local universities and professional bodies to gain recognition for this qualification.”
The syllabus aims to harness the learners’ ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively in Bahasa Melayu, besides developing an effective writing style. Learners are also encouraged to read widely for their own enjoyment and develop an appreciation of how writers achieve their flair.
The syllabus is modelled after the successful and widely-recognised Cambridge IGCSE First Language English syllabus.
However, it is in no way meant to be an equivalent of Bahasa Melayu in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).
Education Ministry private education division deputy director Ahmad Lotfi Zubir said: “The Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay syllabus tests a different set of language skills than SPM Bahasa Melayu.”
In addition to reading and writing, SPM Bahasa Melayu includes testing the learners’ comprehension of literary texts, classical and modern Malay, or understanding of royal/court Malay.
CAMBRIDGE IGCSE FIRST LANGUAGE MALAY (0696) COMPONENTS
Paper 1: Reading and directed writing
Answering comprehension questions and evaluating information from texts to write an argumentative or discursive letter.
Paper 2: Composition
Writing two compositions that are argumentative, discursive, descriptive or/and narrative in nature.