It is agreed on all hands that Dhivehi is the best medium for communication in the Maldives. However, when we consider the state of affairs of education, business and commerce, tourism and other areas of activities we understand the real place of English in the life of a Maldivian. This in no way means that English is essential for our survival.
As long as our country relies on importing resources for education English would occupy a vital place as the most convenient medium of instruction. Not only does it act as a medium of instruction but also as a link, connecting the teacher and the taught together. Any inquisitive student would find English as the most suitable language before him as more than 60 percent of all the journals, magazines, newspapers etc. in the world are printed in English. The vast treasure of knowledge in our libraries, developments in the field of science and technology, mathematics and numerous other fields of activities are published in English. It would be a ridiculous proposal to demand translating all such resources into our dialects. It is in this context that we recognize what the real place of English is. No other language in the world is as rich as English, as a library language. Thus denying access to English education in the contemporary situation would be termed as quite harsh on our children.
Maldives is a country that hugely depends on foreign trade. International trade and communication requires English. When we consider the importance of accurate and effective communication in correct language we realize where English must stand. English brings the world closer!
Take the tourism sector into account. Chaos and turmoil would prevail in this sector if we were to keep English aside. Not knowing to greet a tourist and treat him in a hospitable manner is equal to insult. The numerous job opportunities open to those with proficiency in English underlines the place of this language in this global village. Not knowing English is a disadvantage to job seekers today.
The vast store of wisdom, portrayal of life and its complexities, fantasies and realities etc. contained in the world of literature take us through unforgettable journeys, showing glimpses of life in reality. Therefore we must turn towards the world of literature. Think about the life of a mathematician who does complex calculations, the scientist who examines the tiniest of particles or the physician who handles delicate surgical procedures. At the end of the day these men turn to some forms of art, especially a story or a poem to relieve their mind of the monotony of their professions. Thus we must remember that it is art especially literature that can give us relaxation of mind in our busy lives. Most of the world’s literature is in English and so knowledge of English would beyond doubt benefit us.
Keeping these few points in mind every student must self examine as to how he regards English. Under sentimental or narrow political urges we must not take decisions that might have devastating effects on our career. Dear students, love Dhivehi, it is your mother tongue but remember that ignoring English today will lead you to self-alienation and confinement in the future.
Source: Arutha (60th Anniversary Magazine of Kumundhoo School, 2008)