PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has defended its decision to have all English language teachers sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).
It said the directive was made to gauge language competency among teachers, adding that this was important to ensure students would be taught by those who had high proficiency as Malaysia aimed to raise its English education standards.
“The Education Ministry is in the process of producing autonomous teachers via continuous professionalism development as it strives to further uplift and strengthen the teaching profession so that it can be at an international standard.
“In this context, all English language option teachers must have the drive towards efforts to elevate English language proficiency and pedagogical skills,” the ministry said in a statement in response to a call made by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) to reconsider its directive for English language teachers to sit for the MUET by year-end.
The directive was issued in a circular dated April 14 by Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin.
It is aimed at reviewing teachers’ English proficiency levels in line with the requirements set out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
The ministry added that it had engaged with NUTP on the roll out of the Professional Up-Skilling of English Language Teachers’ (Pro-ELT) course and the level of proficiency for English teachers based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
“The ministry wants to assure (all interested parties) that it will give priority to addressing the shortage of English teachers and at the same time will not burden the teachers.”
NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan had said the ministry should be focusing on the main issue – the shortage of English language teachers – instead of asking English option teachers to sit for MUET, especially for those who already have English language teaching qualifications such as Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
Tan had said non-option English teachers such as those who were not trained in the field but ended up teaching due to a shortage of teachers certainly could not reach the set level.
Based on the same circular, all English language teachers should be at the minimum proficiency level of C1 according to CEFR.
It also said the development of the English Language Education Reform in Malaysia: The Roadmap (2015-2025) was to realise the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 via a systemic and systematic English Language education reform plan.