A follow-up to my post today. Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan should take note of his big boss’s remarks made on December 09, 2014 when Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin himself acknowledged that Malaysian students are still struggling to communicate in English – even upon graduating from universities.
If you can recall, last year, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the poor English skills amongst our graduates by quoting a 2011 study by the Malaysian Employers Federation, which found that 60 percent of companies surveyed stated that the main reason applicants failed their interviews was due to their low command of English.
The same news article went on to cite the results of the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) for March and July last year, which saw only two out of around 100,000 candidates scoring band 6 or “very good.” While 10,000 candidates scored “good” (band 5) or “competent” (band 4), the other 90,000 candidates received bands ranging from 1 to 3, representing “modest,” “limited” and “extremely limited.”
If 90 percent of our pre-university students cannot score better than “modest” in their MUET, how is it even possible that our command of English could be said to be the best in Asia?
If our English is so damn good, why do we spend so much to fix it?
Muhyiddin already knows how “good” our English is and that explains why the government is working hard to stem the deteriorating standard of English in the country. It is for this very reason that the Education ministry has embarked on a series of costly initiatives to improve the teaching of English, such as the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English (MBMMBI) programme, the Native English-speaking Mentor Programme (PPJBI or Program Penutur Jati Bahasa Inggeris) and the English Language Proficiency Teaching (ProELT) program. All these programs have cost the government more than a billion ringgit over the last five years.
If our level of English is indeed the “best in Asia,” then why do all the facts, including the government’s own actions, say otherwise? Instead of making empty boasts based on a questionable source, our education ministers should concentrate on improving our quality of education. And maybe they should go back to school and learn to be a little smarter – if it is at all possible.
BTW, Kamalanathan should know that Idris is sending 23,000 English language teachers back to school – to undergo training to improve their proficiency in the language. (The Sun, Malaysia, January 28, 2015, p 01).
Another reminder poster of the Taman Indrahana 30th Anniversary Dinner event: