English Language will be made a compulsory pass subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination in line with the implementation of the second wave of the National Education Development Plan in 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

He said the matter was being fine-tuned by the Education Ministry with the hope that its implementation would reduce the percentage of students who failed the subject in the SPM examination.

"Going by the existing curriculum, about 20 per cent of our students failed their English Language papers, but I am confident that with the subject to be made compulsory, the percentage will drop.

"More so, if we see that the students need intervention because they are weak in the subject, we can provide tuition classes and focus on the weak students, by having extra classes at selected schools," he told reporters after opening the 'Strengthening of Literacy and Proficiency of English Language' programme at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Baru Si Rusa, here today.

Also present were Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

The National Education Development Plan will be carried out in three phases, with the first wave implemented between 2012 and 2015, the second wave (2016-2020) and the third wave, which is the assessment phase, from 2021 to 2025.

Muhyiddin said under the first wave of the plan, the ministry would train 61,000 English Language teachers for primary and secondary schools.

"To ensure better command of the language, among the programmes to be introduced are to bring English native speaking teachers to help our teachers and students," he added.

Earlier in his speech, Muhyiddin said the Teaching of English Language and Literacy (TELL) programme, introduced in 2011, had shown encouraging improvement in the command of the English Language among students and teachers.

He said the skill of teaching English among Year One teachers had improved by 54 per cent, while English literacy among students improved by 16 per cent, compared with those who were not involved in the programme.

"I am made to understand that the mentors and their Malaysian colleagues have together produced thousands of communication materials and resources," he added.

TELL is a programme which involves the use of English native speakers to enhance the command and literacy of the English Language among Level One (Year 1, 2 and 3) teachers in primary schools.