LETTERS: Higher Education Minister Dr Noraini Ahmad, when interviewed, said that she wanted to take education to a new level.
Hence, I believe our education system should produce orators.
It will be of great benefit if citizens are good at speaking and have productive persuasive discourse, a society that exercises persuasion in making laws, and governing human physical and mental activities.
It is observed that our education system is largely good at producing clever graduates.
But these graduates are quiet. They are good at memorising knowledge but are tongue-tied when required to express the knowledge verbally.
Out of the 9,000 2019 SPM 9As and 10As scorers, which was announced two weeks ago, I wonder how many can speak well.
In the course of 30 years teaching those aged between 21 and 25 years old, five out of 30 students (in a class) can speak well.
The rest will memorise the "script" or read the slides if they are required to perform a 10-minute presentation.
Sometimes the memorising is too perfect. I had no choice other than givingbut to give him/her a B or an A. Deep down, I know have given marks for parroting.
While the ability to memorise is good, too much memorising may stall one’s ability to speak freely.
A student who is able to speak well assumes leadership easily and gains respect from classmates.
He or she also does well academically. All these makes him or her more confident.
To be a good speaker, first, one has to be confident. The first phase is when the children are in kindergarten and primary school; we need to instil confidence in toddlers.
The second phase is to train them to speak in a more structured manner when they enter secondary school, college or university.
So kindergartens and primary schools educators should address shyness. They need to be encouraged to do something and tell others about it. And we should show appreciation of what they do, be it good or mediocre.
Next, always place them in speaking activities, spontaneous or structured.
Here, we are exposing to them to speaking activities early in life. Let speaking to peers become their way of life.
To exercise a more structured training, universities must emphasise more evaluation of the ability to speak.
To make it better, universities should also guide on speech habits and characteristics. Then coach on posture, voice, and diction to cultivate poise.
In short, to bring education to the next level, one of the ways is to improve university curriculum and testing on verbal ability.
It must not only test via test papers and laboratory activities. A bigger percentage on verbal performance is needed.
Persuasion and public speaking in democracy are crucial. As long as there is rhetoric, and public speaking to deliver that message, democracy exists.
As Malaysia practises democracy, there is a need for rhetoric and public speaking.
Hence, our education system should establish stronger and effective training on public speaking.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR MEGAWATI OMAR
UiTM, Shah Alam
*The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times