By Awang Abdul Muizz
I refer to the suggestion of the Ministry of Education to hire 64 Arabic teachers among Arabic native speakers to upgrade students’ performance (BERNAMA, 28 January 2015). At the first sight, this effort would benefit our nation as it is going to add values in various fields.
This is in line with the 2nd Strategy of National Education Blueprint (PPPM) 2013-2025, “To ensure every child is proficient in Malay and English languages, and is encouraged to learn an additional language.” In Malaysia, Arabic language is part of additional language.
Language signifies the spirit of the nation, which means a particular language is very close to the soul of a particular community. That’s the reason a native speaker of a particular language is more appropriate to teach and train others to master the language. The same goes to someone who is fluent in speaking that language like a native speaker.
In spite of that, we realise that we are fortunate to have more than sufficient number of educators covering national and communal necessity to teach the Arabic language. They consist of native speakers among foreigners and the locals who can speak Arabic.
In accordance with the spirit of “Malaysia Boleh!” (Malaysia Can!”), and in line with the policy of 1 Malaysia: People First, Performance Now, Malaysia has to prioritise our locals (that is, those who have been trained in local and foreign universities) to teach Arabic (including Islamic studies). They are special to us, not only they are fluent in Arabic, but most important they understand our local culture and the Malaysian way of life.
Thankfully, some of them are able to converse well in Arabic like the native speakers. More than that, they use their ability to promote the good name of Malaysia through participation and involvement in activities and events conducted at home and abroad. We are so proud of this achievement.
Some of them are serving in various fields, including education. They are what we can consider both as ‘Islamic and Malaysian products’ who are studying Arabic (and Islamic studies) for the benefit of our community, nation and religion, not just for personal gains.
Alas, some of them are yet to get an offer of any career opportunities. Realising that, the government should help them by giving the offer based on their capability to serve the society.
Concurrently, we have to utilise native speakers to the maximum by giving them duties of coaching teachers and students, and researching, especially for those in need of special attention, for the sake of development of the Arabic language in Malaysia.
We don’t want to see the 10th Strategy of PPPM 2013-2025, “To maximise student outcomes for every Ringgit,” remains without action, especially in the event our country is tested with the very challenging economic situation. Note that all actions made by the government related to education will affect the government itself financially; the government has to be more prudent in spending national budget.
In conclusion, we welcome the presence of native speakers among foreigners in Malaysia to serve in education, at the same time, to make Malaysia their second home. However, we have to take note of the existence of our own people who have the competency to continue to develop our country. This will help us to produce people with knowledge and virtue.
Member, Management Committee
IIUM Arabic Debating and Public Speaking Club
Photo courtesy of American News