Unemployed because they can't speak English
THE announcement by the government to introduce the new dual-language programme (DLP), as the added educational component to the government’s high-immersion programme (HIP) initiative helmed by the government’s Performance Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu) last year, received an overwhelming response from parents of schoolgoing children and would-be schoolgoing children, educationists, businesses and groups that have a stake in the development of education. It gives many of us hope that changes to the government’s education policy have ended. Under DLP, schools can teach Science, Mathematics, Information Technology and Communication, as well as Design and Technology, in English or Bahasa Malaysia. In its initial stage of implementation, only 300 schools are involved. This number will increase over time. Nonetheless, parents and their children can decline the offer to go to DLP schools. The idea is to check the falling standard of English in schools and raise the standard of education in national schools. It is hoped that our young citizens, after completing their primary education, those who complete secondary schools after 11 years of studies, and in particular, university graduates, will achieve an acceptable standard of mastery of the English language and be ready to start work. The problem that we have now, where more than 400,000 graduates are unemployed, most of them Malays and mostly because they can’t speak English, according to a study by Pemandu, will be addressed. No graduate will remain unemployed anymore because of their poor command of English. Nonetheless, things are not going smoothly as many thought and hoped for. Due to pressure by political groups and non-governmental organisations, such as, Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia (Pena), and language nationalists, there are objections to the introduction of DLP in national schools. The say DLP will relegate the importance of the national language and introduce yellow culture. Some even feel that DLP threatens the country’s national identity. Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), a recently formed opposition political party comprising mostly members of a Pas breakaway group, voiced its objection and is planning to organise a demonstration to oppose DLP. They believe that with the introduction of DLP, the country will make the young embrace the colonised mentality that we saw during the British occupation. This is an argument, which, to many, is absurd. For a party with a large number of Malay professionals, I wonder what is happening to Amanah’s progressive stance. Their stand is disappointing to most of us who had hopes for Amanah to raise the educational level. We have given up on them. Given their stand, and if it is allowed to happen, we will see no progress. PKR and Pas are standing their ground, as expressed by their leaders to maintain the education policy and system that has Bahasa Malaysia, the national language, as the lingua franca in national schools. This is viewed as stagnation, at best, in our standard of education and, therefore, we will also see no progress. I am not surprised to see hypocrisy being practised by high-profile opposition members, who send their children to international schools, despite their stand against the use of English in national schools. Since DLP is optional, no one should have any worry or feel threatened by its implementation, and parents can keep their children in non-DLP national schools, if they object to it. Many of us now are not too sure if opposition parties are objecting to DLP just for the sake of objecting to any new government initiative, or it is just another one of their political ploys. DLP is about being pro gressive and being globally competitive. However, if the majority of people prefer to follow the advice and stand of opposition parties and they do not want the people in this country to be globally competitive, then, there’s no need to change anything. However, they should be prepared for a downfall due to our young’s education level, no progress in education, and be prepared to see more graduates unemployed. It is hoped that the government will maintain its stand on the implementation of DLP, have the commitment to ensure its success, and go for further progress and development for the good of the people.