KUALA LUMPUR – For one Thai teenager, lack of proficiency in Bahasa Melayu was not a setback for her to study in Malaysia.
Kodeeyah Malem’s efforts to master the language were rewarded when she won a debating competition organised for Thai students in Malaysia last year.
The Form Five student at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Kuala Lumpur (SMKAKL), said when she joined the school in 2011, she could barely speak Malay.
“Initially, I had a tough time trying to understand the lessons. But with the help of my schoolmates, I managed to master Bahasa Melayu,” she told Bernama here recently.
Originally from Satun Province, Southern Thailand, Kodeeyah, 17, is not only proficient in Malay now, she could also speak Arabic other than her mother tongue, and is learning English.
She attributed her ability to “catch up” with Bahasa Melayu to her interaction with fellow students in Malaysia. To boost her confidence, she even offered to be the host at activities at her school.
Kodeyaah is among 55 Thai students in SMKAKL under a joint programme between the Malaysian Education Ministry and southern Thailand, in which muslim Thai students get the opportunity to study in Malaysia.
Another student, Faten Payo, 17, who is in Form Four, said the education system in Malaysia had helped him to score 11A in the Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) last year.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to study here. I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience. I have not only mastered Bahasa Melayu but also the English language,” he said.
According to him, Thai students had to attend a preparatory class in Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, English language and Islamic education for six months before they could enter Form One.
“This had helped us to understand the languages,” he said.
Meanwhile, SMKAKL principal Encik Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Sharif said the student placement programme had helped the Thai students to learn better and develop their abilities through the activities held by the school.
“We are very thankful for the opportunity to provide them education and what they have learned exceeded our target. Their parents are also proud of their children’s performance,” he said.
Kamarul Ariffin said the Thai students were very committed to their studies and also participate in the various activities held by the school.
He said SMKAKL started receiving 30 Thai students in 2011 and 2012 respectively, from across the southern Thailand border, from Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Satun.
“There are currently 55 Thai students with us. Twenty-five of them comprising 12 boys and 13 girls are in Form Four while 30 comprising 15 boys and 15 girls are in Form Five,” he said.
He said the students’ expenses were borne by the Malaysian government including for books and hostel. – BERNAMA