One of my nurses is on maternity leave. I took in a temporary staff, who has just completed STPM, and is waiting to go to college in June/July. So temporarily she worked as a stand in.
She is quite intelligent and learn things fast. However, I was horrified that she could not understand very simple English conversation. Things like “please take the temperature”, ‘check the weight and the height of the patient” seem to be incomprehensible to her. SO I have to speak to her in the dialect and Bahasa, since she is from National school and does not even comprehend Mandarin, despite being a Chinatown Chinese Malaysian.
My other nurses have all worked for me for many years- I think all over ten years.(one of them about 20 years now).. They are also of StPM and SPm standard, and all from the National Secondary schools but one of them was educated in a CHinese primary school. Despite that, I remember when they joined my clinic more than 10 yearsa go , they could at least understand my English, which is not the high powered type , but rather , simple and down-to-earth English.. Even though they do not speak well.
So from this we can see what a difference in the standard of English from the National secondary school graduates , in the span of about 10- 20 years.
I am comparing the product of the same system, not with those coming out from Independent chinese Secondary schools or private International schools.
This girl has passed her STPM and had a fairly good grade and is going into one of the government universities.. I asked her what she wants to be. She told me that she wants to be a teacher , if given the choice. Imagine if she becomes a teacher, and she is so poor in english, how is she going to source for latest information through either english journals or the net?
If the products of our secondary schools (preuniversity satndard) are in such a shamble, how would we expect our productivity to go up?
To raise productivity, we must raise our technological as well as knowledge level. Without the increase in productivity, our economy cannot be expected to grow fast or move up the techonlogical ladder… How are we going to achieve our dream of becoming a developed nation if our students are so poor of English? Bearing in mind that English, more than any time in the history of mankind, is the main medium to acquire skills and knowledge. We cannot be a nation of small traders and hawkers and yet aspire to be a developed state.
Even if we go back to agriculture, we need knowledge to use technology to help us to modernise our farms. Without understanding English, we will always lag behind others. While the Thais and the Indons and the Chinese are speaking better and better English, we seem to be going backward.
This poor command of the english language must be rectified, through engaging foreign teachers , increasing the time for english lessons, and making English a compulsory pass subject at major Examinations such as SPM and STPM. The present batch of English teachers cannot even write a proper English paper, and it would be just like the blind leading the blind…..
If the majority of our next generation cannot have a passable comprehension of the English language, then I think we can say ‘bye-bye’ to our ambitions of becoming one of those in the front rank of the world ‘s nations.
(instead of vision 20/20, (or 6/6 vision),we might end up as 20/60…)