The world that we live in today with its sheer level of connectivity and being immensely borderless surely was unimaginable a few decades ago. How the world would be in the next decade with the advent of Industry 4.0 much hyped about will drastically change the way business and commerce are carried out as well as how people communicate and make decisions. The emergence of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and analytics will turn the world we now know on its head and the young need to be equipped with all the relevant exposure and skill sets to face this changing world, not merely as a consumer but also as a provider. However, with the speed of commerce and transactions, it is still invariably important that language capability remains extremely crucial as not only a survival skill but a means to excel.
Malaysia a truly diverse nation with more than a hundred dialects spoken on a daily basis has its national language, Bahasa Melayu as the unifying language. It is truly a sight to behold when we trace back our roots to our forefathers and ancestors who had come to the shores of Malaya back than to make a life and had all acquired some level of spoken Bahasa Melayu to get on with life on a day-to-day basis. This is still evident in our nation when our foreign friends from all walks of life have come to Malaysia to work, have also mastered the national language as it is without a doubt the language of survival in our beloved country Malaysia. Therefore, the importance of Bahasa Melayu as our national and official language must not be belittled or given lesser importance for whatever reason. It is imperative that our children acquire proficiency in Bahasa Melayu to the highest levels as all official government correspondence are in the national language and shall remain for a longest time to come and any citizen making a life in Malaysia must be fully conversant.
Having said that, proficiency in the English language as the language of commerce must be given due importance and the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English under the Dual Language Programme, DLP is a move in the right direction. The usage of Cambridge English textbooks in schools just solidifies the importance of English in the local education curriculum and is most welcome. Therefore, the education policies for our national schools coupled with the implementation of Higher Order Thinking Skills, HOTS if carried out verbatim shall produce a future batch of graduates who are not only conversant in Bahasa Melayu and English but equipped with the necessary thinking skills to face the many challenges ahead our nation will face especially in trade and commerce.
Students should also be given an opportunity to acquire one additional language or a foreign language which could come in handy in their future undertakings. May it be in Mandarin, Tamil, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German or French or any other language they prefer should not only be supported but encouraged.
At Sri Bestari Private School in Bandar Sri Damansara, students are given to fullest access to mastering of the national language, Bahasa Melayu and English as well as one additional foreign language of their choice. For many, the mastery of three languages coupled with their mother tongue or local dialect gives them a head start in terms of being conversant in 3 to 4 languages by the time they leave school at 17 years’ old and opens up an array of opportunities for them to explore and excel for their own future and that of their family.