Saturday 18 June 2011

Iban language: Pick the right candidates

KUCHING: The Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) has chastised the authorities for its nonchalant approach to the Iban language.

SADIA chairman Edward Manggah said the Iban language was not like any other subject.

“The teachers must have the basics. You cannot just pick people randomly and make them teach,” he said in response to the latest controversy involving the selection of candidates for Bahasa Iban courses.

It was reported here that several qualified applicants for the Bahasa Iban Pendidikan Rendah (SK) course at teachers’ training institutes in the state had failed to secure a place.

These applicants alleged “unfair selection” saying that those who excelled in the Iban language at the SPM level were not absorbed into the programme while others who “did not take up the subject at the SPM level were accepted.”

Said an applicant: “Three of the chosen candidates from Belaga and Kapit did not take up the Iban language as a subject in SPM. I don’t know how they were selected.”

Yet another applicant demanded to know how the Education Ministry made its selection, saying it was time Iban leaders paid attention to the problem and rectifed the situation.

Said Manggah: “It looks like they just pick anyone to teach the subject… It is quite humiliating to the community that the authority is not looking at the language seriously.

“It gives one the impression that whoever created the post did not do it wholeheartedly.”

‘Have qualified interviewers’

Bahasa Iban was introduced as an SPM level subject in 2008.

Last year, the federal government approved the teaching of the Iban language as a subject in teachers’ training colleges and at the University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in August.

Stressing the importance of ensuring only SPM-qualified applicants enter the colleges, a local longhouse chief, Jack Bidai, urged the ministry to conduct the selection process “professionally.”

He said the ministry must appoint a qualified panel of interviewers to ensure only the best candidates are offered seats to pursue the course.

“The candidates must have credit in the Iban language to be trained further, and later on, to teach the language in school,” said Bidai.

Meanwhile local daily the Borneo Post had contacted the Ex-Services Association Malaysia chairman in Kapit, Wilfred Billy, who speculated that “some other things” may have come into play in the selection process.

“It looks like the selected candidates are picked not because of their proficiency in the language but for some other thing perhaps.

“This is a grave mistake that needs to be rectified to ensure that only the best and qualified candidates are offered the course,” he said bearing in mind that these applicants will eventually teach the young Iban generation.

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