THE EDITOR, Sir:
China, India and Malaysia have two things in common. First, these countries are all experiencing an economic boom. Second, their ability to sustain economic growth is dependent on an educated English-speaking labour force.
India's emergence as a major software and IT hub has, in part, been possible due to the country's educated, English-speaking labour force.
In 2009, British author David Graddol released a study titled 'English next India'. According to Graddol's study, India was lagging behind other Asian countries which had experienced an increase in the number of skilled workers who were able to speak English fluently. The study indicated that India would become uncompetitive if it did not quickly develop initiatives to increase the number of English speakers in the country. However, India has changed dramatically since then.
According to journalist Saritha Rai (2012), the number of English speakers, especially in urban areas, increased exponentially. Indians have realised that the ability to speak English will make them more marketable and socially mobile. In addition, the English language is also becoming extremely popular in China.
Furthermore, Malaysians have recently realised that their ability to speak English will improve the country's growth prospects. Upon receiving independence from Britain in 1957, the country decided to abolish schools that teach English. By the early 1980s, most students were learning the national language, a policy that negatively affected Malaysia.
According to analysts, Malaysian graduates have become less employable and the country's true potential has not been realised. Therefore, in order to solve the problem, several parents are now sending their children to schools in Singapore, so that they will become exposed to English.
More attention needed
Although Jamaica's national language is English, not much emphasis has been placed on it by academics. We need to develop more effective strategies when teaching our students English. More attention should also be placed on aspects of the language such as syntax, lexicon and grammar. Asian countries have realised that their citizens' ability to speak English will aid in their development, and Jamaica should follow their example.
In 2009, only 42 per cent of Jamaica's students passed CSEC English. Therefore, academics at the University of the West Indies should know that it makes no sense to advocate for the teaching of Creole in our schools, when most students have not mastered English.
Jamaica needs more development specialists and fewer academics like Carolyn Cooper. These individuals are obsessed with ethnic culture and Afrocentrism. In addition, there are too many radical academics at the UWI, whose retrograde way of thinking and hatred of the Western world will keep Jamaica in the dark ages for many years.