Indonesia falling behind Malaysia and Vietnam in English proficiency

Indonesia is given the 32nd position in the list of comprising of 72 countries in the list made after the survey

Picture for representation
Students from Assalam Boarding School and Jakarta International School take a group photo in Bogor, West Java province, Indonesia Reuters

An EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) report reveals that Indonesia is falling behind its neighbouring countries in English proficiency. While Indonesia is given 32nd position in the list of comprising 72 countries, Vietnam and Malaysia secured 31st and 12 positions respectively. The survey which ranks non-English speaking countries by their skills in the language has also put Philippines in the 13th position and Singapore in the 6th position.

The EF EPI considers the average level of English language skills amongst adults to determine the results. Indonesia, which scored 52.91 points and is included in the "moderate" proficiency category beats the other two Southeast Asian countries –Thailand and Cambodia. While Thailand hangs in the 56th position in the "very low" category with a total score of 47.21, Cambodia finds itself among the last five countries, including Laos, Libya, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Among cities in Indonesia, West Java is placed on the top with a score of 54.66 and Central Java is at the bottom with 49.51 scores. Indonesia capital city Jakarta secures the second position with a score of 54.05, just 0.61points short than West Java. Notably, women in Indonesia are more fluent in English language men, the study reveals.

According to Jakarta Post, EF surveyed 400 respondents in each country. It measured their English proficiency via on-the-spot tests at EF branches in different segments, including grammar, reading, comprehension and vocabulary.

EF director for educational research and development, Steve Crooks, during a media gathering in Jakarta on 8 November, said people in a non-English speaking country should know the language as is important to increase global competitiveness, reported the news agency. "Enhancing English language skills will bring in multinational companies and attract high-skill, high-paying jobs," said Crook, according to the report.

Crook further explained that English has become the "global language of business," and people need to communicate in the language to get their work done. "All major businesses that operate in more than one country need to have workers that can communicate professionally in English," said the director.

However, EF EPI is not the final judge. In recent times, the survey has come under severe criticism for its improper mechanism. Experts argue that the survey lacks representative sampling in each country.