May 24, 2013

REJECTED English?


I was at Seremban Parade last Sunday and as I took the escalator down from the parking lot, I was surprised to see that 'Reject Shop' was closed at 11.30am and I made my way to reading why, only to choke on what I had read.

Ironic isn't it - Reject Shop gives us REJECT English! 

This is just one of the many I have encountered and I'm sure many of you have seen worse. I wonder if our Ministry of Education and Education Policy Makers know the mess they are brewing in their future generation's education because they sure as hell screwed many already. Oh! Should I beware for speaking so? I almost forgot - if I'm not happy with the current situation in this country of mine, I have to migrate, kan? 

Trust me, those who have migrated and soon to migrate are not at stake here. Malaysians are being taken for a good ride and made into an international joke. When your working group cannot communicate well in your official second language, it calls for a serious remedial action. It is THE indication that our system is not effective and might not even be close to good as what is almost always told to the RAKYAT that we have a standard that's above average or excellent. Whenever I read such ludicrous statements, I wonder whom they are comparing us to? Are they dreaming?

The older generation in Malaysia, had various other struggles to meet but I would like to believe that they were blessed to have a primary and some even secondary education that were above par, almost can be considered excellent because you can still see how many of them have a strong command of almost three to four languages. The reason I say this is because of my current visits to the local market here in Lukut, ever since I shifted to this state. I see old chinese men speak fluently in English, BM and in fact code switch to Tamil and they sound just like Indians speaking if you didn't get to see their faces. Likewise I have seen Indians speaking like they were native Chinese speakers and also having a good power over English. You don't see this much these days and almost never in the younger generation unless they've studied in a vernacular school but they will be far from being able to communicate well in English. I never saw much of this in PJ either, because everyone working in the market and restaurants are foreign workers who by the way have very good command in BM. 

I walked into a Chinese Medicine shop in Seremban several weeks ago, and I asked for eye drops in Malay, but the owner of the shop replied in fluent English and he got me smiling. No, I smiled not because my mother tongue is English, but because he's as old as my dad and his shop looks like it never travelled through time since the Communist invasion. Yet there in front of me, stood a man who decided to reply to me in such grammatically correct English - something you don't even hear from the mouth of school teachers these days and some of them are English teachers (at that point I always wonder who I should slap for this!). 

What's the point of free education if the quality is going to be like having lice in your head? It is because it's FREE that it's like that? Should every concern parent now think about enrolling their children into International Schools, Private Schools and language centres where parents have to pay a bomb and the government reaps from the taxes? Or is "GO MIGRATE" going to be the answer our Education Ministry throws at us too, sooner or later as their solution to the problem they have created?

Quality has to be a priority at the most basic level - the foundation - primary school and a constant effort  to increase its use in schools through subjects other than just English is a good way to have it utilised more. Making English a subject that requires a compulsory pass is not the solution to improving the standards of English, we all know how the grades are manipulated anyway. The number of passes is not the end result. The picture above is the end result!

No use having a Malaysian kid study English for 11 years in school and upon leaving school, that student writes without knowing where to put an apostrophe or when to use plural or singular! Having so many subjects just for English at tertiary level too is not the solution to this problem. Our education system has and is providing such horrid roots for the RAKYAT that even in 11 years students come out writing and speaking English like this and they think making 10 out of 60 subject in order to graduate with a Degree be in English is going to clean the mess? What happens to those Malaysians who don't even see the chairs of a University lecture hall? Not every Malaysian is not able to walk into the tertiary environment, due to their grades at secondary level (thanks to we know who) and most times their race and income status forbids them from getting a place in the universities, so they go out straight to work and the picture up there is the result you get from all this. Simple English made to sound so baboonish and sadly even some C.E.Os of corporations stink at it too.  Have you seen the Malaysian contestants in our locally produced reality shows like Master Chef and The Apprentice? Oh, I don't intend to start on that. 

I'm pretty sure if I had to ask that old man from the Chinese Medicine shop to write an informative memo to his customers, what you see above would not be the result you'd get!

Malaysia needs help and that help better come soon because my deepest concerns are for those who have no resources to making it on their own and are being screwed over further by our sad system. Our education may be FREE but the actual price the RAKYAT pays is this - 'REJECTED English'! 

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