Iban language (Bahasa Iban) which is already a subject in Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination will be introduced as a new elective subject to all form four students next year and form five the following year. Education Ministry has standardised the Iban language, which is presently taught in schools in Sarawak up to form three level, and agreed to make it a subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination in 2008. So, pioneers will sit for this subject as the first batch in SPM 2008.
The Star reported:
As of June this year, 9,372 students from Form One to Form Three studied Bahasa Iban in 55 schools, with 165 teachers available.A guidebook, called Sistem Jaku Iban Di Sekula (The Standard System of the Iban Language in Schools) and authored by experts and educationists in Iban language, has been produced to aid the ministry to in producing textbooks, teaching material and learning activities for students. Moreover, it would enable Malaysian Examination Syndicate to introduce the Iban language paper for SPM.
For Form Four next year, it is estimated that 1,440 students will take the subject in 48 schools under 144 teachers.
Personally, I think that the step of introducing Iban language as the new SPM subject is heading the right direction as more and more Ibans are educated. Malaysia is unique as it consists of people of different races and cultures. We speak Malay (Bahasa Melayu) as our national language and English as the international language. Besides that, some of the us speak and use our own mother tongues such as Mandarin, Tamil, Iban etc in our daily conversation. We practise our own cultures and speak our own native languages yet we are a united nation.
Although languages other than Malay and English such as Chinese, Tamil and Iban are elective subjects in current education programmes and examinations, I urge all non-Malay students to take the respective native languages as a subject and sit for its examination, be it in PMR or SPM. If we do not speak and preserve our own native languages, who should we hope for doing so? I believe one of the essential ways to preserve our native languages is by taking it as a subject and study it in our schools.
I managed to score only a 2A in Chinese language (Bahasa Cina) in my SPM examination last year. The funny thing is that I scored 1A in both my Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and English (Bahasa Inggeris). I even got a 1A for SPM English 1119 (GCE 'O' Level) though my English both spoken and written are not as good as my Chinese. Moreover, I was a Chinese debater and have taken part in a national level debate competition. So message from my true story: it is not easy to score 1A in the elective language subjects.
An experienced teacher once told me that we are actually competing with each others during the examination. It is because Malaysian Examination Syndicate (MES) has set a percentage of subject-takers to get 1A, 2A and other grades. For instance, let say for Chinese language paper, MES has set the top 10 percent of the candidates taking the subject to get 1A, then if you are not in the top 10 percent, you will not get a 1A even if your total marks are above 75 (1A band). This also explains why some candidates can get 1A for a particular subject even if their scores are lower than 75.
I do not know how true this statement is. Any insider would like to shed light on this? The reason I share with you my experience is not to discourage you to take the elective language subjects but to provide the other side of story for you to judge and make your best decision. Nonetheless I do not regret for taking Chinese language in my SPM. Until today, I am very proud of my Chinese primary education and also my exam results in this subject.
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