English proficiency crucial in nation building

KOTA KINABALU: The education system must ensure that students are equipped with necessary skills including communication and English language proficiency to join the workforce and develop the nation.

Minister of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr. Yusof Yacob said education is in the forefront of all business and technological advances, and that Malaysia cannot afford to lag behind other countries particularly in the South East Asia region.

He asserted that graduates can no longer wait for jobs to come but instead, create jobs themselves and turn it into industries.

The Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025, he added, has mooted the idea of an Innovation Ecosystem as one of the platforms to enhance the competency of future workforce, which was also a means to boost graduates’ marketability.

He further pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir had stressed on the importance of teaching and learning English, giving English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals a fit in producing marketable graduates.

“He (Mahathir) also mentioned that proficiency in English can help generate more employment opportunities. Hence, the ability to master English is part and parcel of producing competitive graduates and the role of the ELT professionals cannot be disputed.

“No matter how good and skilled a person is, ideas remain as ideas if not communicated and utilized.

“English may be the lingua franca, but it is not our mother tongue. Thus, ELT professionals play a vital role in equipping students with essential communication skills to meet the needs of the industry,” he said.

His speech was delivered by assistant minister Jenifer Lasimbang during the opening of the 6th Malaysian International Conference on Academic Strategies in English Language Teaching (My_CASELT), and 3rd Language Invention, Innovation and Design (LIID) Exposition here Wednesday.

Dr. Yusof noted that the new generation of students presents a bigger challenge to educators as access to technological advances have turned traditional classroom into a dull and uninspiring place.

As such, he said educators have to be innovative while ELTprofessionals need to require autonomy in determining ways to connect with the new breed of learners.

“The use of novel ideas and out-of-the-box techniques should be encouraged and facilitated so that academic activities are lively and productive at both mental and emotional levels.

“Accordingly, empowering ELT professionals to use their discretion should be part of our academic agenda,” he said. The two-day event organized by MARA University of Technology (UiTM) Sabah Academy of Language Studies saw more than 120 local and international researchers presenting their research and showcasing their inventions and designs in ELT.

Themed ‘Empowering ELT professionals in a Globalised Environment’ and ‘Empowering Practitioners’ Innovation in Language Teaching’, it was aimed at providing platform for leading ELT experts to discuss and show their research findings on ELT.

According to UiTM vice chancellor Emeritus Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Azraai Kassim, it was critical as language fluency and effective communication abilities would enable individuals reach out better to the world.

Stressing on the vitality of language practitioners to move in tandem with today’s development, he said it is crucial to ensure that graduates have relevant knowledge and skills to take on future job challenges.

He added that practitioners need to rethink strategically and use their credentials to offer new learning experience and industry-relevant skills.

“It is also necessary that a lot of effort is put into exploring innovative learning and teaching resources and partnering with other institutions to provide fresh insights that will be of use to not only the academics and students, but more so the communities we serve.

“We must ensure that any new pedagogical thinking is complemented by continuous and innovative curriculum design, training and re-skilling so that no segment of the academic workforce is left behind.

“Hence, in the quest to strengthen students’ commands of English, I believe academics need to keep up with the latest teaching approaches and techniques to cater to the current and future generation of digital natives,” he said. His speech was delivered by deputy vice chancellor Industry, Community, Alumni and Entrepreneurship Network UiTM Prof. Dato’ Dr. Rahmat Mohamad.


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