We live in a world now that’s so overawed by the performance of the computer or a motor car but not the language that can be used to sing paeans to them. We are in danger of losing our powers of thought and speech.In a column in the New Sunday times today Wan A. Hulaimi (Awang Goneng) discusses the latest data on the under achievement of British school leavers :
A study of 16-19 year olds by Shefffield University last year suggested that 17 per cent of them are illiterate ... (and) even among those who read and write, literacy skills have not been much improved since the 1980s.And then he turns the questions back on Malaysia where :
For so long we have relegated literature and the appreciation of language and words to the second tier whilst science and the quantum theory have been relentlessly pursued. ...We diverted funds into the sciences and engineering and medicine to fulfil the national need, and then it became fashionable to choose the so-called heavy options as nation after nation churned up more engineers and doctors and oceanographers than deep readers of books. ... we have relegated the humanities to the academic sissy and those of imprecise minds and dreamy looks.There is no doubt at all that science and maths are important, but really are our Malaysian schools challenging our students to use language and to actually use it as a tool for thought? I really don't think so.