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English fluency promoted in AZAM rural school outreach programme

MIRI: With rapid globalization, Sarawak needs to become a main driver and active participant in the digital economy, especially in its efforts to build up a workforce in preparation for Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0).

Besides having a solid foundation in Science, Mathematics and Technology as well as necessary soft skills for IR4.0, students will have to build up their fluency in English to be able to participate in developments in these fields.

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To boost English language learning and fluency in rural schools, Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak held a one-day “AZAM Rural School Motivation and Community Outreach Programme” on 11 April 2019 in Niah, Miri. The event which was held in collaboration with Subis District Office and supported by Faradale Holdings, also included the participation of AZAM members, AZAM Toastmasters Club and youth volunteer group AZAM Young Souls.

“Today’s program for students as well as for parents today are in line with Sarawak Government’s objectives to enhance English language standards in Sarawak and, to promote STEM and TVET as part of our need to achieve a Digital Economy that is a new reality to us,” said Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) permanent secretary Datu William Patrick Nyigor who officiated the outreach programme’s opening ceremony.

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“It is estimated that 90 per cent of jobs in IR4.0 will focus in engineering and science. Thus, the Sarawak government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Research will be focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and English.

“An important segment of IR 4.0 is expected to be located in disciplinary areas such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, business administration and computer science,” added William Patrick, who is also AZAM deputy chairman.

“In the digital economy era, students must acquire self-study skills to remain relevant in this time of rapid change,” he said, adding that a survey by W3Techs in March 2018 that cited about 54 per cent (5.4 million) of the 10 million web sites were written in English, while websites in Indonesian Malay spanned 0.3 per cent (30,000 pages), emphasising the need to add English language fluency to students’ skill sets.

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One hundred and seventy students from Primaries Four to Six, and 45 participants from Parent- Teacher Associations (PTA) from SK Batu Niah, SK Rancangan Sepupok and SK Tanjung Berlipat took part in this programme aimed to boost rural students’ confidence in learning and using the English language, and thus contribute to rural community development.

Among the highlighted sessions were by AZAM Toastmasters Club titled “Boost Your English for Success”; interactive sessions with the students to boost their confidence to learn and use the English language, and a panel session with PTA groups titled “PTA contributions to 21st Century Education”.

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The panel session moderated by AZAM board member Sharkawi Yassin featured key speakers from Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (TEGAS) Chief Operating Officer Awangku Merali Pengiran Mohamed, SK Batu Niah PTA chairman Sebastian Janting Takin, and SK Batu Niah headmaster Abdul Rashid Yaakub.

The programme also saw AZAM donating about 500 new and pre-loved English language books to be divided among schools involved in this programme as part of the organisation’s initiatives to educate young students to read, learn and master the English language. The first book donation drive commenced in early February to date and was the result of generous donations from AZAM members, AZAM Toastmasters Club, AZAM Young Souls, and staff of AZAM.

For more information, contact AZAM Sarawak Community Development Officer Mohd Wasli at 082-411799 or email wasli@azam.org.my.

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