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.
“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!