Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Best the System Can Produce

I was sitting in the library this past Friday, just unwinding at the end of the week. I couldn't use the Internet, as is usual around here, as the connection is sporadic at best, and slow when it does work. So I was just playing hearts and solitaire on the computer to waste time until the bell rang to go home.

The last period of the day, one of the English teachers came in to teach what was obviously an English for Science and Technology class for the upper forms. That was cool, because then I could sit in and observe, without making anyone nervous or being obtrusive. All I had to do was keep my ears open, keep my face to the computer, and keep playing solitaire, and all would be well.

I was amazed by what I observed. Even though it was supposed to be an English class, 80-90% of it was in Bahasa Malaysia, with the teacher being the worst offender. The only time he ever spoke in English was when he was reading from the test or homework the class was going over. Other than that, even simple explanations were given in BM. Students were allowed to ask questions and make comments in BM, and of course the teacher answered them back in BM. Teaching English almost totally in BM is as useful as teaching drafting to a blind man.

Granted, this teacher is young and relatively new. But he graduated from an SBP school, where supposedly the best students (at least bumiputras) in the country go. He went to a university, probably on scholarship, and got a degree in teaching English, or was somehow deemed suitable to teach English. Even worse, he gets hired and right off gets a job at an SBP school. This is the result? This is supposedly the best type of English teacher the education system can turn out? Something is seriously wrong somewhere.

That somewhere is the education system here. I could write a whole essay about it, but I won't. Why? Because I am living here now, my wife is pregnant, and I want to keep my job until my contract expires, so I can leave on good terms and get a good recommendation for a job elsewhere. Anything in the least bit critical I want to write will have to wait until I move out of the country.