Friday, December 21, 2012
Declining English Standard A Shame to Malaysia
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposal in New Delhi yesterday to source English teachers for Malaysian schools from India in a bid to help alleviate the shortage of teachers in English and to improve proficiency of the language in Malaysia marks the crossing of the Rubicon for the Malaysian national education system – as it is a sad admission of the failure of the Malaysian education system over the decades to arrest and reverse declining educational standards and to prepare the new Malaysian generation for the challenges of the 21st century.
In the recent past, Malaysia had been sourcing English-language teachers from the United Kingdom and the United States, ignoring the rich reservoir of available local talents to teach the English language. Now the Prime Minister is proposing to source them from India. Will Malaysia next source English teachers from the African continent?
This is undeniably a grievous psychological blow to the nation which had rightly prided itself as a country with high international standards and attainments in English language when it achieved Merdeka in 1957, and should now be sending Malaysians as English-language teachers all over the world, including India, as one of our precious international assets.
Instead, Malaysia has degenerated to become an importing nation for English-language teachers from foreign countries. What a national shame!
The deplorable state of affairs with regard to the proficiency of the English language in Malaysia after half a century of nationhood is exemplified by the shocking admission by a top Education Ministry official recently that two-thirds of the 70,000 English language teachers in the country failed to reach a proficient English level while a test carried out by the Education Ministry based on the comparison of the students’ results in SPM English and Cambridge 1119 Standards showed that two in three students failed to meet the basics in English proficiency.
Why has the Malaysian national education system degenerated to such a pass – where two-thirds of 70,000 English language teachers not proficient in English have produced a generation of students two-thirds of whom are not proficient in English?
One reason for this malady of the Malaysian education system is because the country has a series of Education Ministers who regard their portfolios as stepping-stones to higher political office – even the Prime Ministership – and not really interested in their responsibility to establish an educational system for an innovative, creative, competitive and prosperous Malaysia for the future.
This was illustrated by the poor Malaysian results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) 2011 announced on Dec 11, with total indifference by the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who has refused to say a single word despite the importance of the results in a subject which comes directly under his responsibility.
This is further proof why the time has come for a change of Federal Government in Putrajaya in the 13GE as the Umno/BN Government after 55 years have become too rotten and out of tune with the national needs and challenges of the 21st century.