Saturday, September 03, 2005

How to Stem the Rot in Malaysian Higher Education?

In an interview carried out with Malaysiakini, Prof P Ramasamy who has recently had his contract with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia unjustly terminated, he was asked a very straightforward but pertinent question: "What could be done to stem the rot in higher education?"

It's an important question because for all the opposition noises in the controlled media and the parliament, for all the effort that small-time bloggers like ourselves raising the relevant issues in our writings, there's always this sinking feeling of whether whatever we are doing is ever going to be enough to turn the tide for the better.

Prof Ramasamy's reply is summarised as follows, but read also the full interview with him which covered his career, his family and why, in my opinion, Malaysia should be proud of a son like him.
  • Scrap the Akta Universiti and Universiti Colleges (Universities and University Colleges Act) and Akujanji

    Basically (former premier Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) designed the Akujanji. You can't simply make piecemeal reforms without understanding what the rot is about.

  • Discipline lecturers.

    Lecturers can easily get away for not going to classes. Lecturers get away cancelling, postponing classes. Students have avenues to complain, but by complaining, they are likely to get into more trouble.

  • Check plagiarisam.

    If lecturers do it, the students would also do it. If you make a complaint to the university, they will make sure they will never address it because they don't want the university to get a bad name.

  • Have a new Minister of Higher Education

    Higher Education Minister Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh has not indicated that he was serious about reforming our institutions of higher learning. When Gomez accused Universiti Malaya for the alteration of marks, he [Shafie] did not take any action. I think he should resign. He is not fit to be a minister.
All the above a valid points. The question then is, how do they get implemented? How do we ensure that at least of the above issues plaguing our higher education system get addressed? There's a suggestion during a forum on Higher Education Crisis for a "Concerned Rakyat Caucus on Higher Education" to press our leaders in making the necessary reforms. Will they listen?

Here's my little plea to our honourable prime minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi - you have consistently preached in most of your recent public statements for Malaysians to help make Malaysia a "knowledge economy". In your national day address, you highlighted that:
To achieve success, Malaysia should strive to produce workers with integrity and who are knowlegeable in various fields such as science and technology... To develop the human capital, we want our citizens to be fully equipped with knowledge, practise good moral values, have a big soul, love the country and possess physical and spiritual strength.

The Prime Minister said the next generation must be nurtured for the country to realise its vision of achieving developed nation status by 2020. Abdullah said it would be useless for a nation, which prides itself on world-class physical and infrastructure facilities, if its rakyat refused to think “out of the box”.
Your vision has to start with reforms in our Malaysian education system.


Anonymous said...

Who cares ? ;-) It's just pointless talking about this, really.

Anonymous said...

1. The political link needs to be cut from education for it be be effective but can it? Even the pengetua in the primary schools need some political patronage to keep his position.

2. Education policies need to be strictly secular. Relentless islamization of the national schools drives away non-muslim, mainly chinese, students thus eroding the overall quality of pupils, and causing further segregation.

3. Before we even attempt to 'think out of the box', we need to learn how to think properly within the box of acceptable standards and benchmarks. Not create another pie in the sky scheme to delude ourselves.

Anonymous said...

MOST lecturers miss classes because 1) they get sick or 2) they are either on emergency or annual leave.

WHY? Because they are required to do more than teach - they have to do marketing, attend education fairs, counselling prospective students, hold talks about the college, school visits, road shows and more often than not, they are required to report in during college breaks.

Those who cross-teach often teach in programs with differing start and end dates, compounding the problem.

Lets not forget that we should change the way we look at work in the education industry.