Knowing English speaks volumes

THE Sultan of Johor has made a strong case for English to be used as a medium of instruction in schools in our national education system.

In an exclusive interview with The Star published on Friday, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar spoke about the importance of the English language, which he described as “the universal currency – accepted everywhere and used everywhere, even in countries where the people don’t speak English well”.

Furthermore, it is a neutral language that can be used to unite the people regardless of race or religion.

Perhaps more revealing was the Ruler’s frank analysis of how the so-called politicians who champion nationalism as well as the vernacular language advocates actually send their own children to study in English schools overseas.

He also noted that the international and private schools in Malaysia, where English is the medium of instruction, are only available to those who can afford it.

These schools are set up to meet demand but are business entities that charge high fees, making them inaccessible to the ordinary Malaysians.

Interestingly enough, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday that while the Government was emphasising on upgrading the proficiency of English in schools, it had no plans yet to change the medium of instruction in national schools from Bahasa Malaysia to English.

The debate will go on.

As we have argued in this space many a time, our students need a language skill that will truly take them places. And there is no denying that it is the English language that holds the key.

Sadly, the English language has taken a back seat for far too long ever since English-medium schools were abolished in the early 1970s.

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