Monday, December 05, 2005

Non-Profit Organisation on Education for Malaysians?

No, there's no such organisation that I'm aware of at this point of time. But it's an idea which I have been toying with for sometime now, even before I started this blog.

Faithful readers of this blog will have known that I'm particularly concerned with regards to issues such as unemployment among fresh graduates, the standards of universities (locally and overseas) as well as the lack of credible information with regards to educational institutions in the country.

Hence, I've always toyed with the idea of setting up such an entity, a non-profit organisation relating to education for Malaysians to help "ease" some of the above issues - and to perform some of the functions which our local education ministries are failing to do (or are not doing very well). Some of the proposed objectives and actions of the organisation would include:

1. Grooming Top Students to Top Universities

The issue that readers would know that I'm not particularly happy about is the fact that Malaysia's top students are not provided with sufficient counselling to ensure that they are guided on the right track to qualify for the world's top universities. I've blogged about it here in my earlier post "Singaporeans Smarter Than Malaysians?".

Some of the comments relating to the above post have attributed the reason as a matter of "finances". I'd like to think that it's a fair bit more than just financing. Our governement authorities in-charge of scholarships have a tendency to send some of our top students to the most mediocre of universities overseas. And that's probably because the officers at these agencies regard these mediocre universities as "top" universities. I don't have the actual statistics on hand, but I'm pretty certain we send more scholars abroad than Singapore does every year. The difference is they don't send scholars to mediocre universities, while we definitely do.

Hence just about a month ago, a Malaysian alumni of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) contacted me with regards to providing top local students, particularly those taking their SPM, with mentoring and guidance with regards to applications and enrolment to the top universities of the world. Form 5 is probably the relevant year for these activities to ensure that these students take the necessary steps to acquire the right qualifications after completing their SPM examinations. Otherwise, some of these students may just end up in the wrong programmes with the many private colleges in Malaysia.

We would also like to disseminate information such as scholarships, bursaries and grants to ensure that these students do not let the lack of funds be a reason to hinder their access to these universities.

2. Career or employment advisory services

I was also thinking of starting off a series of seminars with regards to helping prospective graduates (probably students in the penultimate and final years in the universities) with simple tips on seeking employment. I say simple tips, because there is simply no secret formulas to gaining employment. There are however simple things-to-do, and it's really up to the individual students to work on themselves.

I've covered some of these tips here, but while this blog is indeed getting more popular, there's probably a limit to the its reach at this point of time. The practical tips will really include things like filling in application forms, creating resumes, requirements for nature of work etc. etc.

Many of the points I want to cover, are also typically provided by other commercial entities such as However, I just thought it might just be useful to provide perspectives from local employers of a certain background instead of merely from a recruitment agency. I could charge say, RM10 per student, just to cover the cost and logistics of the event, or Jobstreet could sponsor the events :-) (See Ming? :-)) These sessions could also enable Q&As to allow employees at ask specific questions about an employer's point of view.

We could do roadshows around the country at the universities in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru. What do you think? The above ideas are a start and if successful, they could lead to a more permanent structure to the career counselling events which might then be held annually.

3. Compile an Independent Rankings Table for Local Institutions of Higher Learning

This is the most recently added objective to the idea, partly due to the hoo-haa over the world rankings table compiled by The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES). It is also probably the hardest, as we will require information which the relevant institutions or authorities may not be willing to provide.

Providing an independent and uncommercialised rankings table for local institutions will provide a basis for prospective students to evaluate which are the best colleges for them to pursue their further education locally. As it stands, besides relying on word-of-mouth, there is little a prospective student can do to make semi-objective comparisons of the different universities and colleges.


So what do you think? For SPM and STPM readers out there, do you think that the above services will be terribly useful and important for you, with regards to the route you take for further education? Is it of good value or is it just going to be "marginally" useful?

While the objectives, I believe, are clearly useful, there are still many practical issues to deal with. The first 2 objectives above are probably easier to manage, but even then I'd need to look into recruiting more high calibre top Malaysian individuals to contribute their valuable time, manage the logistics, secure sponsors etc. The 3rd objective is probably the hardest, given that the Ministry of Higher Education and the relevant university authorities may not take kindly to an "independent" evaluation of their status and quality.

I am fairly keen to start the above "movement" and would like to hear from out there, whether as a potential beneficiary, or as a potential accomplice of the proposed programmes. I have certainly, in the past, been guilty of partaking in activities which were not follow through to completion, but I certainly hope that this is one idea which will see the light of day.


Anonymous said...

Community supported colleges such as New Era College, Southern College, Kolej Tuanku Abdul Rahman and University of Tuanku Abdul Rahman should be considered as non-private-profit organisations. These are institution developed, managed and owned by the trustees appointed by community at large.

Anonymous said...

We have always been told, 'Think what you have done for your country and not what your country has done for you.' We know what Chinese has done for the country. What has the country done to Chinese?

I want to further add that we have also to look at the composition of the contract workers, managers, staff, subcontractors and suppliers. On top of these, we have also to look at the number of scholarships given out.

What we have learnt thus far is that over 90 percent of overseas scholarships awarded by government-linked companies (GLCs) have been given to one race, even though there are more deserving and qualified applicants from other races.

What we have to understand is that government-owned entities, like Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Telekom, and Petronas are just government departments run in a privatised manner i.e. like a business corporation. Hence, their policies are no different from any other government agency which mean they strictly adhere to Umno policies.

However, the big problem in this beautiful country is Umno's agenda, of which quality is not the essence, quantity is.

In every aspect of Malaysian life this is true. With that kind of mentality, kickback is the name of the game. Every contract and every business has to hike up price tags so that a great number of well-connected individuals will get a cut and become instant millionaires.

We were witness to the cancer of corruption, now lovingly called 'money politics', in the recently concluded Umno elections. And Umno is home to three quarters of the cabinet. Tell me, how do you save this country?

Simple, compare it with a country that is worse of than us and pat ourselves on the back and carry on as usual. You are right, we don't have to go far to learn, our southern neighbour is a good example of how to do things right.

But again, how can we emulate them, we don't practice the meritocracy that the rest of the world practices, but some new type only our education ministry is familiar with.

The treatment rendered to Dr Gomez leading to his resignation from the University of Malaya gives a strong signal to students about the atmosphere surrounding Malaysian academia.

It is obvious that something is wrong, transparency is lacking, and people who are in positions to rectify the situation are not responding. We are giving a world-class Malaysian the boot.

This is starting to look like malice and harassment. Such behaviour will harm the university's good name if it continues. I hope the university authorities change their minds and decide to support Gomez's plans.

Malaysia's message to students home and abroad pursuing studies in hope of achieving Gomez's stature in academics is loud and clear - 'Don't worry about coming home, Malaysia doesn't really give a damn about your well being. Make your name and stay abroad'.

Sadly, the qualifications obtained in Malaysia do not carry the same weight as qualifications obtained in the country where one hopes to further one's studies.

If one were to enter specialist training in the UK, India or Australia, a UK-qualification i.e. membership of the British Royal Colleges carry more weight.

I have to stress the point that Malaysian foreign-trained doctors stay on abroad in order to become better doctors when they return. Forcing them to return early without clear prospects for higher specialist training once they are in government service is nothing short of killing off these idealists in their prime. They are better off abroad for now.

When all is said and done, it boils down to just one thing. The Never Ending Policy (NEP) of the government. It will always be a source of Never Ending Problems for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea why Singapore is almost the first world country or 20 years better than Malaysia?

Because all the brainy Malaysian Chinese end up in Singapore providing the super manpower they have needed and Malaysia has wanted them to fail at all cost. My brother is one of the brainy guys who refuse to work in Malaysia. My best friend who is top of the class is now in Australia.

If Malaysia would take us Chinese as Malaysian. We would have been like Singapore.

The newest brain drain is Malaysian Chinese going to China. Any company in Malaysia and Singapore who has a factory or business in China is taking everyone up. My friend who is getting a fair income of RM3000 as an accountant, is paid RM12000 in China.

Why - Malaysian Chinese are able to speak in Mandarin and English. These provide them the bridge between locals and offshore companies communication channel.

So most Malaysian Chinese are of capable in China at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I have lived and worked in six foreign countries, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Pakistan, and Singapore, and have visited even more countries. I must say that in all my travels, I have not had the unfortunate experience of racial discrimination. Sure there were cultural barriers, inefficiencies and language difficulties. But never was there a particular country where I was systemically discriminated against.

In Australia, even foreigners, are protected by the equal opportunity commission. Japan, where the locals are known to be xenophobic, have proven to be one of the most hospitable people in the world.

Even in India and Pakistan, there is no single group that is constitutionally and systemically discriminated against. Sure, there are religious fault lines between these two countries due to history. In both countries, I was treated with the same respect for locals, if not more.

The main point that missed is that in spite of all the hype surrounding the 'successes' Malaysia has arguably achieved, it has not integrated its ethnically different races any closer.

In Malaysia, racial discrimination is institutionalised, in Singapore perhaps it is done tacitly. In the public sector in Malaysia, it is no coincidence to note that the majority who hold the top posts are the bumis.

Well, without doing much research, I can tell that Singapore's president no less, and its foreign minister are Indians. Even from a cynical point of view, their positions in comparison with our Malaysian situation, are something our minorities here can only dream of. Of course, we cannot compare our Yang Di Pertuan Agong and other Sultans with the position of president, but a Chinese or Indian Malaysian foreign minister to represent Malaysia?

There is no point in arguing about favouritism and nepotism as they exist everywhere in the world and it is up to the electorate in each country, to decide to what extent they can tolerate them. The crux of the problem here is institutionalised racial discrimination where race takes precedence over merit as official policy.

Financially, instead of lowest tender, our contracts go to the most well-connected politically, with multi-level rent-seekers. The effects are beginning to show in terms of productivity and efficient use of resources. So far, we are lucky to have Petronas to hide our excesses. What happens when the oil runs out?

Singapore, as a small island with very limited natural resources, has been acknowledged worldwide as a developed nation. Whatever criticisms we may have of it, Singapore's development speaks for itself. Unlike the self-proclaimed developed status by Selangor, which is currently the butt of jokes.

The likes must understand that while many non-malays have left the country due to the discriminatory policies institutionalised by the National Economic Policy (NEP), many of us also understand the importance it played in ensuring equal distribution of wealth in this country. It would be naive to say otherwise.

However, the time has come now for a review on how the policy is applied. I am for one, a strong backer of the ideals that the NEP should be shifted from the current race-centric approach to an approach that uses a means test to justify affirmative action.

Poverty eradication regardless of race is stipulated under the NEP, but has this been implemented? All that is being asked is the promotion of equality to wipe out poverty regardless of race as promised by the NEP.

'Modern development economics' as mentioned empowerment to enable the poor and the underprivileged of all races to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and to move forward. But is this being done equitably today in Malaysia?

With due respect, has to come to Malaysia to see for the reality on the ground and to help us all create a more just and equitable society - a Bangsa Malaysia - that will truly promote greater national unity in our country. We who are here are trying to do our best to achieve this.

A nation can never be built on principles of racism, favouritism and discrimination. With the pervasive racial policies and political intervention of the BN monster in the tertiary institutions, dubious quality will still be a feature of our local institutions.

Anonymous said...

Let's get back on topic guys. As a 2005 STPM candidate, i think this service would be of immense help to us, especially if there is a ranking published for local unis to evaluate them with regards to quality and area of specialty.

I doubt I will benefit though because my application is next March and insofar I only know USM and UM are the country's two top uni and UTM is good for engineering. That's it. How pififully little I know, now that I think about it.

Anonymous said...

Just thought you should know that there are non-profit education entities in Malaysia.

-- Old Man

Anonymous said...

Old Man

What are those entities doing so far? Any history of good help and guide provided to top students?

Most important of all, which are these entities that most of us not aware of?

Anonymous said...

NGO on education in malaysia will be a step in the right direction. we need to build our strength to compete internationally.