SIBU: There are currently 99 Fullbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) deployed to nine states nationwide, according to the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir.
She disclosed this to reporters during her visit to SMK Kampung Nangka here yesterday.
“So, in Sarawak for this year, we have 14 secondary schools having ETAs,” Kamala said, adding that the programme which is into its third cycle, first started in Terengganu.
She said Melaka was added to the ETA programme this year.
Meanwhile, representative from Sarawak Education Department Teena Chang Hui Thin said for the first time this year, the ETA programme was extended to central and northern zones.
“For the central and northern zones, four ETAs are placed in Sibu, five each in Bintulu and Miri. So, there are 14 ETAs (for Sarawak) altogether this year,” added Chang.
Kamala said each of the schools will have an ETA for three years (one cycle).
She explained that ETA programme is recognised by the Ministry of Education and US Government.
According to the ambassador, the role of ETAs is to add additional activities and experience to students, particularly in using English language and not to replace a teacher.
“Your heard me talking about the examination which is not our focus. The focus is for young people to have the confidence and ability to use English in a normal way.”
She said ETA Victoria Blummenfeld in SMK Kampung Nangka, for instance, is playing the role of exposing students to different ways of thinking and learning as well as different ways of viewing the world.
She added Victoria’s role is to inspire students to use English as a tool to experience a larger world.
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 Germany and South Korea.