LETTERS: PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stated his intention to bring back the teaching of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) to boost the competitiveness of graduates in the job market.
This move will expose the younger generation to a more efficient education system in this digital era.
Technologically, the world has been moving fast and now, with the introduction of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), the world will move even faster.
Every country is working hard to embrace IR 4.0, otherwise it will be left behind.
IR 4.0 will not only change the way we live and communicate, but will deploy more artificial intelligence (AI) in its operating system.
As we depend on imported technology for most of our industries, the workforce and our graduates must know how to embrace IR 4.0.
Every industry will have to undergo a gradual or rapid change in using AI to remain competitive.
Training has to be conducted to equip the workforce with relevant skills. Most training of this nature will be conducted in English.
Before my retirement in 2011, a hotel’s integrated computer system had to undergo an upgrade. Before the upgrade, training for staff was carried out without obstructing hotel operations.
The training was conducted in English. The voluminous operating manuals, too, were in English.
I noticed that those who were weak in English took a longer time to learn and understand the applications of the system.
They were further hindered by their inability to communicate during the training, let alone falling back on the manuals to seek clarification.
Fortunately, there were a few quick learners with better command of English to cover the shortfall. If not, there would have been many hiccups.
My son has attended job interviews over the past six years. In some interviews, he was not only expected to communicate well in English but also write well in it.
He was required to write a short English essay on the spot. He has performed well in his career and he will join another multinational company this month.
Critics of PPSMI should be more pragmatic and be aware of the predicament faced by graduates. The unemployment rate among graduates was 9.6 per cent, or 204,000 people, at the end of 2018.
There is a correlation between graduates’ command of English and their employability in the private sector.
We need to stop politicising the education system. It’s been going on for too long.