Monday, August 1, 2011

News: Foreign Fixation

Dear All,

Recently, the MOE of Malaysia has begun to hire native speakers of English to strengthen the teaching & learning of the English language in Malaysian public schools.

But here's a piece of news that appeared in our local newspaper The STAR about a suitably qualified Malaysian by birth and who was born and bred in the UK for much of her life not being able to get the job because she is a Malaysian.

Read her story below.

Rodney Tan Chai Whatt

The Star Online > Sarawak

Thursday July 14, 2011

Foreign fixation

KUCHING: When the Government announced a mentoring programme to improve the proficiency of English in schools last year, Karen Shepherd, 37, a Sarawakian who grew up in the UK, thought she would have the opportunity to put her language expertise to good use but she thought wrong.

Despite fulfilling all the stipulated qualifications, she was rejected on the grounds that she is a Malaysian. She had never expected that her status as a local would be a barrier for her to get a job in her home country.

“Surely the only criteria appropriate for filling any position should be the candidate’s skills, experience and abilities,” said Karen, who fulfils all the requirements of the English Language Teachers Development Prog-ramme (ELTDP), a project managed by British Council in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan.

An officer from the Ministry of Education said that the project was one of the measures to strengthen the language in schools by employing native English speakers.

“We did receive complaints on this (hiring foreigners only) but it is the ministry’s policy to employ external native speakers,” the officer said.

British Council had recruited some 85 mentors for 40 primary schools in Sarawak and 45 in Sabah and Labuan since early this year. A total of 120 are needed.

The majority of the mentors are British and from other English speaking countries such as Australia, the US and Canada.

Mentors, who will work closely with local teachers, will go through a one-week induction course before they are assigned to the schools.

The project will end in September 2013 when suitable local teachers are identified to take over as mentors to continue to support the professional development of their colleagues into the future.

According to the British Council website, the candidates “must have a minimum of a recognised Teaching English as a foreign language qualification and two years’ experience including with young learners, experience of teacher training/ development, line management or coaching/mentoring is desirable, a highly proficient speaker of English and must have a first degree or equivalent.”

Karen has six years teaching experience, three of those in Malaysia. She has a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults and a post-graduate qualification in teaching English from UK. “Imagine my surprise, on applying for one of those teacher mentor positions, at being informed that the job is closed to Malaysia citizens,” she said.

Karen said Malaysia had many excellent English language teachers who have good command of the language to native speakers level and are educated to Masters level in their field, have full teaching qualifications and years of experience delivering the Malaysia curriculum.

“Overseas mentors will leave Malaysia at the end of their contract, not only taking all their experience with them but also a sizeable chunk of Malaysian money.”

The remunerations package for overseas mentor, is very attractive at up to RM10,000 monthly income with transportation provided.

The British Council website said the nationality of the applicant is not a selection criterion. It is, however, the wish of the Government to invite ‘international expertise’ to join this project.

Among those who shared Karen‘s frustration is Sarawak Teachers Union chairman William Ghani, who thinks that “importation” of foreign English teachers is an insult to the Malaysian education system.

“We do not mind if the government hired some qualified trainers to train English Language teachers here if we do not have enough trainers. But we are doing okay. We have produced qualified English teachers here,” he said.

Ghani suggested that the government train teachers locally in local colleges instead of spending taxpayers money hiring overseas English teachers.

© 1995-2011 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)


  1. such a waste of money..our local well trained english teacher just recieved about 2-3k per month...but foreigners?10k?really wasting the citizen's money...

  2. 3-4k, plus a pension, cheap loans, half day working, job for life... very very hard to fire a teacher... nice job.
    talk to your government about wasting money.. there is plenty more money wasted in this country, half of it propping up the Malays... the largest number of civil servants per population in the world. just go into any government office and see how much is wasted. The school system is just a small part of it...