Monday, March 21, 2011

English holds the key to achieving Vision 2020

English holds the key to achieving Vision 2020

AS a former teacher, headmaster, assistant supervisor of primary schools in Selangor, lecturer of English at Universiti Teknologi Mara (preparing students going to Australia on JPA scholarships) and having been in the field of education (1955-2003) I feel I have something to say regarding the importance of English.

I remember when I was the headmaster of SRK Sungei Besar near Sabak Bernam in 1966, a Malay parent came to register his child in the school .

I asked him to register his child in the school nearest to his home and he asked why I couldn’t admit his child in my school which was English medium then.

He seemed rather annoyed and remarked that if ministers could send their children to English schools, why couldn’t he? I had no answer.

I am astonished that academics and students from universities who should be open-minded and models of progress, examples for ordinary folk to follow, are adopting retrogressive attitudes and behaviour in opposing the use of English.

How can our nation go forward and achieve Vision 2020 when we can’t see beyond our noses? Please let us be more sensible and bold enough to face the challenges ahead. We are now in a globalised world.

If some of us are not proficient enough in the language, there are many avenues open to learn and master it.

I remember teaching English to teachers and elderly headmasters in adult education classes in the evenings in the Klang High School in in the early 60s.

I am sure the Education Ministry can restart such classes all over the country to help people to learn the language.

Indeed, there is a crying need for some of our top administrators to improve their English. It is pathetic to see officers fumbling and stumbling when making speeches or giving interviews.

I often wonder how our representatives conduct themselves when dealing with foreigners.

If China, Japan and even the proud French have accepted English as an important international language why can’t we.


This letter from a reader to the Opinion section in The Star is questioning parents the most relevant questions.

Don't be a petty minded person who will forsake the future of your children by denying them the ability to converse and write well in English because like it or not, English is the lingua-franca of the world today although we want to empower the Malay language.