The English in Harmony Camp/Kem Jalinan Bahasa Inggeris (JABI) is planned and coordinated by PCORE (Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason) with support from PBMM. The camp is designed to fulfil both English language learning and national integration objectives, bringing together primary school students from Sekolah Kebangsaan, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Tamil) to develop their English language skills in a fun learning environment. PCORE received RM50,000 of funding from LPPKN, to run 8 groups of the programme.
The camp was piloted at the Vision School Complex in USJ 15, Subang Jaya in September 2012. This first programme was planned and conducted by Datin Halimah Mohd Said, PCORE president/former PBMM committee member and Sharifah Ayeshah Syed Mohd Noori, PCORE and PBMM committee member. Thirty (30) children participated in the pilot programme, comprising ten (10) Year 5 students from each of the following schools: SK Dato’ Onn, SJK (C) Tun Tan Cheng Lock and SJK (T) Tun Sambathan. The pilot ran successfully, meeting for half a day on five consecutive Saturdays and gaining positive response from the children, parents, teachers and school administrators.
After a hiatus during 2013-2014, three batches of the English in Harmony Camp were conducted in November 2014, this time hosted by SK Kerling in the Kuala Kubu Baru area. A total of 90 students participated, including Orang Asal children. However, this time participants came from only two schools, SK Kerling and SJK(T) Kerling, as scheduling conflicts prevented SJK(C) Kerling from participating. With lower student numbers in the rural schools, participation criteria was expanded to include Year 4 and Year 5 students. The programme was managed by PCORE, with Datin Halimah leading and administration performed by Miza Pawan Chik, PCORE committee member. Sharifah Ayeshah revised the programme syllabus to meet school scheduling requirements, re-structuring the programme to be conducted over three consecutive half-days. The three groups were conducted by Sharifah Ayeshah, and trainers, Dr Hamidah Merican and Dr Nasim Merican. School administrators, teachers and students gave positive feedback and expressed an interest in participating in future programmes. However, the integration objective of the programme could not be achieved, as there was an over-representation of SK Kerling students, who were mostly Malay or Orang Asal. This resulted from the non-participation of SJK(C) Kerling and the very small number of participants from SJK(T) Kerling, which has about 100 students in total. The aim for the following camps, then, was to ensure the participation of roughly equal numbers from all three school streams.
In December 2014, Miza Pawan Chik began liaising with another host school, this time in an urban setting: the Jalan Ipoh area. In March, SK Batu 4 (1) Jalan Ipoh agreed to host the programme, inviting participation from SJK (T) Sentul and SJK (C) Lai Chee. While the initial plan was to conduct four (4) groups, this had to be reduced to two (2) upon request of the schools, and due to space limitations at the host school. The programme was run from 26- 28 May, involving a total of 30 students. Twenty (20) students from each of the schools participated in the programme, in two groups facilitated by Sharifah Ayeshah and Dr Kalaivani C. Nadarajah, an academic from UKM and PCORE Treasurer. Coordination was conducted by PCORE, and host school teacher, En. Azminor. The programme succeeded in meeting both its objectives: providing participants a chance to develop their language skills in an enjoyable and stimulating way, while learning side-by-side with students from other school streams. Response from the students, host school head teacher and accompanying teachers from all three schools was very encouraging. SK Batu 4 (1) head teacher, En Faisal, invited future partnerships with PCORE and PBMM with the aim of improving the language proficiency of his students, many of whom come from the nearby public housing flats. The teachers said that this was the first time they were involved in activities involving the neighbouring schools, and expressed hopes for more such projects.
At present, funds remain for only two more groups of the English in Harmony Camp, tentatively scheduled for September 2015. We are currently looking into sources of funding to continue running this programme in both rural and urban locations. We invite the involvement of other members of the PBMM committee in identifying possible sources of funding and in participating in coordination and facilitation of future programmes.
Report prepared by:
Sharifah Ayeshah Syed Mohd Noori
PBMM & PCORE committee member, Programme Coordinator –English in Harmony Camp