In the last few years, the Ministry of Education has introduced two programmes: the English Language Reading Programme (ELRP) and the Class Reader Programme (CRP). According to the ministry, the ELRP had nothing to do with literature, but CRP was the comeback of literature in English at the lower secondary level in Malaysia. Compared to the past, literature was taught as a separate subject but after the implementation of the Integrated Secondary School Curriculum in 1987, it is now a component of the subject.
As mentioned before, Literature in English (LIE) is now part of KBSM syllabus. Therefore, the Ministry is trying their best to promote contemporary literature also to the pupils in the upper level of primary schools by introducing short stories and poems in order to prepare and expose them to the real world of literature before the pupils enter Form One. The CDC decided to introduce in primary school following the success of the literature component in secondary schools. The aim of this new syllabus is being introduced are to help pupils improve their English through reading simple fiction, to provide continuum for the literature introduced in secondary level and to create an enjoyable learning environment. Beside these, CL is also to develop students awareness of moral and cultural values, to understand and appreciate human relations and also to learn the different literary devices used in the texts.
2.2 RELATED LITERATURE
Past few years back, the Ministry of Education was very much concern in learning English for primary schools. Besides learning Communication English, the Ministry of Education had planned on the three-prong strategy to support primary school pupils during the implementation of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English in 2003. The Structured Reading Programme for Years One and Two was aimed at introducing pupils to reading in English at an early age, while the Extensive Reading Programme for Years Three to Four required pupils to read about fifty storybooks outside the classroom to encourage the reading habit. To propose this idea, they had come up with new method on teaching of literature for upper primary school pupils. Under the roof of Contemporary Literature Programme for Years Four to Six, primary school pupils were given three texts at each level to read and discuss during English lessons in class. This is because contemporary literature is expected may help the pupils in learning the second language and to assist them enhance a proper command of English usage in their daily life. The focus of teaching of contemporary literature here is to expose the pupils to the cultures, beliefs and norms and ways of looking at life. Through the implementation of new revised primary school curriculum, the use of literary texts is being emphasized in language classroom. Despite this reason, the teachers have to the advantages of presenting different types of methods in educating the pupils.
The aims of the component are to improve pupils' proficiency in English language and to introduce pupils to other cultures that they are not familiar with. The objectives are to promote appreciation and response to the literary text, learn a lesson from it, relate and discuss the text with real life and try to find solutions towards the problem. The Ministry of Education is very precise in presenting the four skills to the students. The Ministry had applied all the skills not only for Year Four but till Year Six pupils whole over Malaysia in hope to enhance pupils' ability in four skills in educating the pupils through short stories.
Based on the curriculum specifications for Year Four, the four skills and the contents need to be integrated in the language classroom. Contemporary literature is one of the subject that need to be looked upon. The ministry has integrated all the four skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing for the purpose of enhancing language in L2 classroom.
This present revised syllabus differs from the previous Literature Component in terms of specifications form and the time that curriculum specifications and Literature Component are being implemented. It may be applied to pupils in teaching them short story. While teaching them short story, the reinforcement through grammar and vocabulary will develop the pupils' ability and knowledge to use the language confidently. This is the advantage of using short story in language classroom, learning something new about culture and at the same time, improving the four skills of language learning.
The use of literary texts in the classroom is more practical and easier for the teacher to teach the pupils contemporary literature. By having the texts in hands, pupils may read thoroughly and circle whatever they do not understand in the text. Learning through reading and writing may improve pupils' capability in understanding the text. Besides that, it involves listening and speaking skills when the pupils' give feedback also during teachers explanation on the content of the stories. The pupils may also apply what they have read in their daily communication.
2.3 RELATED RESEARCH
As mentioned before, contemporary literature helps to develop the pupils' language proficiency. According to William (1984), he mentioned that there are two advantages of using authentic texts in English Language classrooms. First, the pupils need to be exposed to the real life situation. Then, try to relate with their daily life or their experiences. As supported by Dunning and Howes (1975:88) in Norma Aida 1995, the pupils find short stories the most suitable and satisfying of all literary forms.
May (1976:6) quotes, " â€¦â€¦â€¦. , in the last thirty years the critic have recognized that the short story is closer to the lyric than the novel and must be judged accordingly". From here, the researcher feels that The Ministry of Education had made a good choice of introducing the short story for the Year Four syllabus. Even though, in the past short story is a topic to critic, but in the present it is considered as an important element in literature. In the past years, the way people tell story or better known as tales is in verbal mode, in the form of story - telling only but at present due to the development of language the words are more advanced and varied.
Since the stories that we know are told by men, the events of the story happen to human or anthropomorphic beings - god, beast and devils are related in such a way the story seems to begin at one place and to end at a very different place without any essential interruption to its progress (May 1976:36). It shows that short story has a very good flow and can be understood by pupils.
Schorer (1956 cited in May 1976.9) comments that:
The short story is an art of "moral revelation", Sullivan asserts that the fundamental methodological concept of the short story is a change from innocence to knowledge - a change that can be either "inter - concatenate" (occurring within the main character) or 'extra - concatenate" (occurring within a peripheral character) â€¦â€¦â€¦.. He shows that the best way to discern the pattern in the short story is to examine how the completeness of a story results from the units or episodes in a work combining to make a credible change in one of the characters or to create a sense of realization in the reader".
A study has been conducted by a UiTM student stating that there are some connections with short story. Shireena Basree (2007) had conducted a case study on the implementation of the contemporary children's literature programme in Malaysian primary schools. She found out that the primary school pupils especially in the rural area find that the use of short story in the classroom as part of the English subject is very difficult. The pupils are weak in English language and sometimes cause difficulties to the teachers to teach this subject to them. The teachers need to think certain ways and method to arouse interest among the pupils towards learning literature. From here, the researcher had concluded that the usage of short stories is important and should be emphasized earlier to pupils from Year Four itself.
On the other hand, Norma Tajuddin (2002) from UM had conducted her survey on the use of short story in stimulating the Form Two students interest in reading. Her findings shows that by learning short story, the students also learn the use of the language items in a real life context since there are some aspects of culture and customs integrated for the readers.
Mc Neil et. al. (journal INTAN 2000 ) agree that the literary texts do have strong influence on short stories' idea, belief and aspiration. These aspects contribute to the development of personality, character and also intellect of one's life.
According to the 'Jawatankuasa Perancangan & Penyelarasan Program Bahasa Inggeris' ( JKPPBI 2002 ), the use of literary text in ESL classroom is suitable for learning purpose since literature deals with 'humanity, values, beliefs and customs'.
Finally, Suzanna Shamini Pillay (UM 2002) stated in her research on students' perception in learning short stories in Form One syllabus that not all the students have interest in learning short stories due to their background and social interferences. She also stated that learning short stories would be much easier if the teachers who teaches literature use more effective methods and aids to arouse students' interest in learning this lesson. Moreover, there are less exposures and knowledge gain by the students to make them more fond and enjoy literature.
Nevertheless, the researches that have been conducted are in the same field but different area, so it also related to the topic regarding student's perception in learning contemporary literature in Year Four syllabus in primary school.
The studies conducted on short stories and contemporary literature shows that short stories are one of the important elements in English Literature. It is thus beneficial to look at pupils' perception on its implementation in Year Four syllabus.