Four Sibu secondary schools get Fullbright ETAs for the first time

Kiew (right) welcomes Kamala Shirin (third right) to SMK Kampung Nangka here, while Victoria is at her right.

Kamala Shirin (second right) engaging SMK Kampung Nangka’s students, with Victoria on her right).

SIBU: Fullbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have begun teaching in four secondary schools here for the first time since the programme was first established in this country in 2006.

United States Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir disclosed during her visit to SMK Kampung Nangka here today, that the four schools that have been placed with ETAs were SMK Kampung Nangka, SMK Jalan Oya, SMK Lanang and SMK Bukit Lima.

“The four ETAs are placed in four different secondary schools in Sibu – two men and two women. This is the first time for Sibu – Sibu didn’t have this (ETA programme) before,” Kamala Shirin told reporters.

She was accompanied by US Embassy’s economic officer Sona Ramesh and representative from Sarawak Education Department Teena Chang Hui Thin.

On arrival, she was greeted by SMK Kampung Nangka principal Kiew Soon Lee.

Explaining the purpose of her visit, Kamala Shirin said whenever she travelled outside Kuala Lumpur, she would always try to visit at least one ETA in that area.

She added which in this case was Victoria Blummenfeld, placed in SMK Kampung Nangka.

“I would also join one or two classrooms to talk to the students. Apart from it, to support our ETAs and also hear from ETAs, schools, state education officials whether they have any concern, good ideas to suggest to us on how we can improve the programme or carry it out to make sure there are any areas where we can give additional support,” she expounded.

“For me personally, seeing the students and ETAs engaged with students is one of the most fun things that I get to do in Malaysia,” Kamala Shirin continued, adding that she enjoyed students asking her questions so as to boost their confidence in speaking the English Language.

During the visit, the ambassador also took time to play the ‘Charade’ games with the students to encourage them to ask her questions.

Towards this end, Kamala Shirin credited the principals, mentor-teachers and state education officials for ensuring the success of the programme.

For the record, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme in Malaysia was first established in 2006 as a state-level programme between the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE), and the Terengganu government.

Today, Malaysia has the third largest ETA programme in the world, behind that of Germany and South Korea.

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