Chants would be a fine thing;Briefing;International

19th March 1999 at 00:00
MALAYSIA

The ministry of education is urging schools to take up rap, poetry and choral singing to promote English.

Stung by poor results in national English examinations, the ministry has ordered schools to provide at least one hour a week of "fun" extra-curricular activities which will increase pupils' exposure to the language beyond the six to eight hours per week of teaching time.

"We are suggesting jazz chants which are similar to rap, poetry recitals, story-telling and choral recitations," said a ministry official. "The idea is to get children to start using English in daily conversation and not only during lessons."

The ministry circular follows a decline in the proportion of 11 and 16-year-olds passing English exams.

Only the pass rate of 14-year-olds showed a marginal improvement, of 1 per cent. But in all these examinations, the failure rate was in the region of 35 per cent.

The idea for the chants came from an un-named official in the country's education ministry, who suggested individual teachers might like to try variations on the theme to improve English performance.

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