December 31, 2003

Texting blamed for drop in English passes

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) - Malaysia's top education official blamed mobile phone text messaging for a decline in the number of students who passed English classes this year. Many students who took English exams were "economising words and phrases" in their answers in the same way they traded messages on their mobile phones, and were breaking language rules in the process, director general of education Abdul Rafie Mahat said.
"The scripts clearly show they have overlooked the basic rules of English," Abdul Rafie was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times newspaper. "Students used short form when writing."
The number of students who passed English for their lower secondary assessment - end-of-year exams for mostly 15-year-olds with two years to go of high school - fell to 68.1 per cent in 2003 from 69.9 per cent last year.
Results published Monday showed the level of passes in other core subjects increased, Abdul Rafie said.
As in many parts of Asia, mobile phone usage in Malaysia has boomed in recent years, and hand-held phones have become a fashion item for young people as well as a communications tool.
The popularity of the short message service has also intensified, and linguistic shortcuts and abbreviations have become widespread.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"