Shortage of Iban language teachers surfaced


I observed with interest a Facebook status of one of my online friend today.

So much effort have been made so that our Iban language doesn’t go extinct. This assurance was made by our Deputy Chief Minister last year at a Pre-Gawai Dayak dinner. He told the audience that the Iban Language is now a subject taught to 72,000 students in both primary and secondary schools (in Sarawak) to ensure that it does not fade away.

“The Jaku Iban (Iban Language) is not dead and will never die. It will exist forever,” – Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.

On top of that, the Sarawak government will continue with its effort to look into promoting the Iban language as an international lingua franca, on par with English, Mandarin and Malay language.

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said such an effort could be accomplished with the full-support from Iban language professionals and expert groups.

However,that doesn’t not blend well with my online friends feedback from the school (a mission school, for this case). This mission school, with 98% of its student from the Iban community only offers Bahasa Cina and Bahasa Arab as the options. According to the teacher at the school, it is the “arahan” from, Gods know who.

Are we facing a shortage of Iban Language teachers?

Yes, is the answer.  According to Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) Sarawak Campus director Bedui Une, there are currently only 280 Iban subject teachers in the state. And our schools need 1,000 teachers to teach the Iban language in schools.

“The shortage of Iban subject teachers in the state is upsetting. If the problem of scarcity is not curbed immediately, it might cost the native language to be gradually less spoken and eventually disappear, particularly among the younger generation.  Currently, only a number of schools in the state teach the Iban subject due to the shortage of manpower.” – Bedui Une

To my online friends, what happen today, will not be able to be solved immediately. Too bad we only have two options.

However, in the long run, I hope Iban teachers can take up the challenge to teach Iban language subject in our schools.

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