Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Upskilling or Deskilling?

So, if you're in the teaching world, better yet teaching English as a source of income, you've probably heard of the Cambridge Proficiency Test (CPT). Not all English teachers were required to sit for the test, I think it involved teachers from the East Coast where there's a stigma that English teachers from these states are not proficient enough in teaching this lingua Franca of the world now.

This is aligned with the Pelan Induk Pendidikan Negara to master the teachers in English to make sure students have bilingual capacity and able to compete in the international arena.

The problem was, the CPT which was an online test contained validity and reliability threats that made it insufficient to gauge teachers' ability in all aspects of the language. First, we were only given 3 days to finish the test. Secondly, the server for CPT was unstable and when I emailed the help desk, they replied that even they couldn't resolve the problems. Thirdly, the interface of the test is confusing as there was no time limit shown so we couldn't allocate appropriate time to answer the unspecified amount of questions. Fourthly the test was done within the school with little supervision thus making it invalid. Fifthly, the British accent used in the listening part of the test was over the top and seriously, Malaysians don't speak English like that. Finally, we as test takers were not given the marks to self-assess our performance.

Therefore, without knowing how we fared in the test, some of us were 'chosen' for upskilling course with native speakers for 400 hours, to be completed in order to ensure we came out speaking like The Queen.

Imagine spending 6 agonizing years and coming out as TESLians yet having to go back to basic and endure 3 hours of courses per day to complete 400 hours of overall requirement in order to be upskilled.

Imagine DG48 teachers who have been teaching for 20 over years yet are degraded by instructor who thinks we, Malaysians haven't spoken a word of English and have to be told to line up like kindergarten kids.

Imagine teachers have to sacrifice their time and energy as well as money (to drive back and forth to the Pusat Kegiatan Guru) to learn things that should be taught to their students instead.

And imagine the instructor, paid a large sum of money, with a house and a car and one month stay in a five star hotel during the holiday while waiting for the school semester to commence.

While we teachers, unlike before, just can attend course within the vicinity because of lack on budgeting. We are not given even a laptop and broadband to key in online systems that are required, albeit redundantly, while what we should be focusing on is our professional job requirement, teaching.

These were the disgruntled remarks made by teachers during the course I attended yesterday. Luckily, my school was not chosen for the upskilling programme. If we were chosen, I'd probably flipped out.

Sure, the gov meant well with the education transformations but the enforcement lacked planning and us, the teachers at the receiving end would be the black sheep should something go wrong.

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