Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reflections

I'm getting old, there's no denying it. I remember the days where I used to sleep two nights a week on the KTM train traveling to and fro Singapore. And it wasn't that many years ago whereby I was used to travelling multiple countries back to back over the course of a couple of days. None of that seemed to have any significant impact on me physically. But that was the past.

I travelled to Macau and China on Monday evening and got back in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday. Its Sunday today, and I have yet to feel sufficiently rested and recovered. There's quite a fair bit to write about over the past couple of days, but somehow, after catching up with the necessary amount of work, there's no energy left for anything else, besides spending time with the little kid. The haze of course doesn't help with a ultra-sensitive sinus problem.

Since I haven't written for a week, I thought its a good time to do some much overdue reflection, on this blog that is. It is close to 18 months since I first started this blog, and together with Kian Ming, we have clocked more than 400 posts here already. While the number doesn't sound overwhelming, the number of words written is quite amazing. While many blog sites have more frequent posts which are often short and sweet, ours tends to be a fair bit more lengthy (and long-winded? :)). Assuming an average of 700 words per post, that's more than 280,000 words already! Maybe we should edit the posts into a book, publishers or editors anyone? :)

More than just the written words, I'm happy that we are getting consistent page views averaging 1,500 per day which doesn't yet include those who reads the posts of the site via their news feeds. The page views peaked above 2,000 per day regularly back in May. It's no Kenny Sia by far, but I believe it's a commendable achievement given that the blog covers only the parochial interests of education in Malaysia. :)

From the emails and contacts I've received, I'm also aware that many of our readers are not just students, but members of the academia and administrators of our institutions of higher learning, in the private and public sector. I'm honoured to find out that the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman's (UTAR) management are aware of the blog (probably relating to this particular post) and that certain senior academics from Universiti Malaya (UM) frequents the site too. I'm also aware that some of our articles circulates in the local universities mail systems – UiTM, UTM and more. Hence, while we dare not lay claim to the fact that the blog has had any “tangible” impact, we can safely say that we have encouraged greater awareness and discussion (which is never bad) with the right audience.

What I'm most happy about however, is the fact that through the blog, I've gotten to know and met many interested parties in education, from politicians to academics in public and private universities, fellow concerned citizens and of course, Malaysian students in secondary schools, local and overseas universities. Many have of course, written to me seeking advice and opinions with regards to issues such as courses to take, colleges to attend and more. I must take the opportunity to apologise here that I may not have responded to all queries, not out of disinterest, but purely due to timing and time constraints. I certainly welcome your mails and will try my best to give prompt replies.

We have also had our very first blog meet, as suggested by Kian Ming which was attended by some 10-15 guys, while watching Germany knocking out Argentina from the World Cup. Some have written for updates (which I've yet to do) and others are asking if we could make this a regular thingie. Well, I suppose why not? :) For various sessions, i could even invite if possible, “personalities” to join us informally. However, maybe to help with the organisation effort, someone could volunteer to be a coordinator for the event. Send me an email if you are interested.

I have also written earlier that I was interested in setting up a non-profit educational organisation to assist the public on various issues. Unfortunately, due to various constraints, particularly with regards to timing availability, nothing tangible has been done on this front. However, I'm happy that I've been invited to take part in various events such as the Experiences 2006 American Universities Education Fair in which I was able to do some of the things which I wanted to do, such as providing guidance to students (and parents) on the choices of courses, universities and careers. More recently, I've been interviewed quite a couple of times by the local and foreign media on various issues with regards to the local education system.

In addition, readers may be pleased to know that this blog has sponsored its first student to the China Synergy Programme by footing the bill for an air ticket (Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong) as well as the participation fee of US$200. The participant from Multimedia University has recently returned from the 3-week event and her report on the event will be up soon, once the editing is completed :). For those interested in helping this blog sponsor more students for such events, feel free to visit the Google advertisement sponsors on the right and at the bottom ;-).

Finally, there are probably some of you out there who have asked the question, “why do you bother?”. There are clearly those who thinks that the existing education system is beyond repair and any effort on our part is just an absolute waste of space and time – there's been quite a few comments to that effect on some of the posts. For example, Billy said:
Human, especially those in Malaysia, always have this kind of "hoping too much" symptoms whenever there are changes in leaderships. But in the end, we are back to square zero after all those sweet promises. Are we two years old kids that will stop crying when given sweets? We have been blind for almost 50 years, and i am sure we are doing the same for another 50 years, and perhaps forever. So why talk and discuss things happening in Malaysia when we can't changed anything? That is such a waste of time and effort. I rather go for a holiday in Phuket or Bali.
Well, the person who made the comment might be able to afford holidays to Phuket or Bali (or migrate to other countries for that matter), but there are clearly many others who can't do that. And whatever effort being put in here, is simply to help those who have little alternative choices. I took the missus and kid to Chiangmai earlier this month for a short 3 days 2 night trip. And at Wat Phra Singh, there were Buddhist proverbs hung on trees in a park – two of which caught my eye, and succinctly captured why this blog exists in the first place.

“Living without hope is like burying oneself.”

“If there is nothing that you like, you must like the things that you have.”

OK, that's enough reflections for now. Let's get back to discussing our education system :). Coming up next - more on global university rankings, the importance of “top universities”(?), update on the UPM fracas and most shockingly, academics at local institutions with bogus degrees? Thanks for reading, and have fun!

9 comments:

Black Mojo said...

The most crucial issue which you, kian ming and the bloggers should take up and fight for...nation wide and with other political parties is the

" Dichotomy of Malaysian education system: STPM versus Matriculation "

This sysytem has been the bane of the Malaysian society and created so much ill feelings between all Malaysians

This thing should be carried up to the Parliament and Beyond
We got to be fair...its ok to help the Bumiputras by the quota they demand, but not at the sacrifice of STPM in favour of matriculation...

Please comment:
1 Learn From History
2 Ah Piau
3 Dracula 77
4 AAB
5 Lim Kit Siang

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Tony. Your reflections and proverbs, indeed, gives me hope that things can change for the better in Malaysia. I myself have seen the ugliness in Malaysians (not education related) and when I reflect upon these incidents, words like yours certainly gives me a sense of calmness and optimism.

chenchow said...

Tony, great to know that EducationMalaysia has sponsored a student to attend China Synergy Program! It is definitely a very worthwhile program for fellow Malaysians to attend. I have attended it in 2004, and following that quite a number of Malaysians have attended it last year and this year. Hope to see more Malaysians attending it next year!

Sally said...

I like the idea of establishing a non-profit to help Malaysian students. Through the non-profit, you can pair current high achieving high schoolers with students in universities locally and abroad so the older students can mentor the younger students through the process. You can also start a foundation and hopefully in the future be able to sponsor students for their tertiary education. Who knows? Perhaps in the future you can start a university from the momentum of the non-profit. The Malaysian education system is flawed. This would be a solid way of doing something about it.

Anonymous said...

It is very sad to see among the comments on the blogs,that things tend to deviate around racial lines, such as the non malays are always attacking the malays and vice versa.

This blog is a healthy forum where all parties can come and discuss things rationally and see that where 'wrongs and errors' can be righted out in the name of fair play. Both parties must try to look and understand the problems and frustrations in the system and try to solve it amicabily for the good of the nation.

May 13 is long dead and gone. Are we still continuouslly waking up to the nightmare and be reminded that it is still there?

I think if there is fair play and understanding and lots of give and take, there are plenty of good things in this country we can share together.

The govt should try to understand these aspirations of the citizens and bloggers and try to show justice to all and not instead try to exploit the weaknesses of the system

If disgruntled and unsatisfied bloggers use these blog site as a chopping board to vent their anger, in no time this blog site will lose its respectability and no one of the right frame of mind would come to this site and contribute their ideas.

Let rationality rules!

Anonymous said...

Ya, I am glad that you started this blog with many articles packed with useful information and must have taken you 2 a heck lot of time and energy to write all those articles. And to think that you actually have time & energy to reply my emails regarding some enquires, you couldn’t be as ‘old’ as you think you are. Any way, thanks and well done.

There is a ready solution to your non-profit educational organization and the lack of graduate soft skills as mentioned in one of your earlier article: Toastmasters International. It’s the world largest, non-profit, volunteer organization with 82 years of history and present in approx. 90 countries and its sole aim is to provide effective communication and service leadership skills. It could not have lasted so long and gotten so huge if their carefully time-proven programs aren’t effective in delivering results. Hop over to www.toastmasters.org and find out more. I can virtually guarantee you that there will be a club right at your door step in the cities and almost all the major town of Malaysia. Go attend their educational meeting and see how it goes….most of these clubs are open-to-all and welcome guests.

Kong

Anonymous said...

..an interesting blogg with powerful analysis and astute commentary contributed by both tony & kianming

ellie.writes

Anonymous said...

tony,

there was this idea I read about ..

somebody organise something like pool a group of investors who would like to provide funding to help students pay fees for their education in world class names Universities..

they line up the investors who want to support this scheme..

so the student signs a contract with the investor in which he commits to pay a say, 10% of his income for say 20 years after graduation in exchange for $100k received today to pay for tuition fees & living expenses..

so the investor has a 10% stake in 20 years of the student's income ..

..of course there will be lots of things to iron out ..

..after which they can then create a secondary financial market from such "higher education" financial investment instruments just like other money market S/T and L/T bonds where investors / banks buy and sell eg. Bankers Acceptances bills thru BNM windows..

.. is this what the government is thinking about asking private sector to help finance education..

inspired :P

Anonymous said...

not impossible..just giving a new twist to the financing of education

of course much complexities and proper planning from all angles.

Will be tough getting u'writers tho..are banks willing to guarantee..why not ? with insurance from Lloyds of London..if the lead managers can convince the parties..

Sounds exciting .. may not be that virtually un-do-able or is it just daydreaming..

anyways..investors have $ and banks are talking about investment funds and securitization of assets..

..graduates from Oxford & Cambridege & Harvard are assets ..


inspired :P