Saturday, August 21, 2010


Something is not right in our English language classrooms. Despite studying the language for nine years in the public school system, the majority of our high school students leave school unable to write or speak basic English. The situation gets worse when these students move on to local public universities. By then they are so uncomfortable using English they completely give up on it altogether.

The allowance and programme fees are fully funded by the government. Unemployed graduates get paid to learn new skills.

Is it any wonder that annual surveys carried out since 2005 have consistently listed poor English as one of the top five reasons why 40,000 to 60,000 graduates from our public universities fail to get jobs?

  • In 2004, there were 4,594 unemployed graduates of whom 163 were Chinese, 207 were Indians and 4,060 were Malays.

  • In 2005, there were 2,413 unemployed graduates of whom 31 were Chinese, 70 were Indians and 2,186 were Malays.

  • In 2006, there were 56,750 unemployed graduates of whom 1,110 were Chinese, 1,346 were Indians and 50,594 were Malays.

  • In 2007, there were 56,322 unemployed graduates of whom 1,348 were Chinese, 1,401 were Indians and 49,075 were Malays.

  • In 2008 (as of June) there were 47,910 unemployed graduates of whom 1,403 Chinese, 4,694 Indians and 41,813 were Malays.

  • By March 2009, Najib was talking about 60,000 unemployed graduates. This was more or less in line with the 57,701 graduate registrants on the Exchange in March 2009.

  • By October 2009, we were looking at 81,046 active graduate registrants on the Labour Exchange – and another 70,747 active registrants who are diploma holders.

The government keeps flip-flopping on measures to raise English proficiency in the country. They bow to pressure from anti-English groups. These groups have so little confidence in the strength and power of their own language that they consider any move to promote English as a threat to the national language. They regard English as the language of our former colonial masters. They label Malay Malaysians in particular who want their children to learn English well as traitors to their mother tongue. Such parochial thinking shows they are the ones still clinging on to colonial times while the rest of us have long moved on to 21st century forward thinking.

This video shows why the rest of the world wants to learn English. It's about time Malaysians do the same. There's a lot of catching up to do.

A shorter version of the video appears on the TED TALKS channel on YouTube.
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1 comment:

Antares said...

Totally on the ball you are! ;-)