Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Feeling annoyed over education in Malaysia

I am feeling very annoyed and indignant today because there is this stupid kosong kepala of a federal government minister who said that those Malaysians who have no confidence in the country’s education system as outlined in the National Education Blueprint can send their children to study abroad. This, coming from Idris Jusoh who is the Education Minister II.

Does this mean that if we do not have the means to send our children overseas, we have to put up with your silly blueprint? No, we still have got to see that we can get the best possible solution in our own country. In this very own country. And if this means making proposals to improve the blueprint contrary to the recommendations, it has to be done.

So please, lah, don't talk about taking our children overseas. Be prepared to listen and improve. Sell your idea to us parents. Convince us that the blueprint is the right direction. Your antagonistic attitude is totally not helpful at all. Instead of engaging concerned parents and educationalists, the federal government wants to ram their new proposal down everyone's throat without dissent.

On another similar matter, I was alarmed to read a long post on facebook by Dr Ramasamy who is the Chief Minister II in the Penang state government. He was ranting and commenting on the slide in the global rankings of our Malaysian public universities, but he really had hit the nail on the head. His comments were quite informative, factual and well-argued. All these truths are, however, being ignored by the powers-that-be in the federal government and as we know, they live in their own misguided utopia.

"Are we surprised that the Malaysian public universities further declined in the global rankings of universities. Out of the 800 universities ranked by World University Rankings 2013/2014, the top 10 included universities from UK and USA. Malaysia was nowhere within the top 100 universities. University Malaya fell from 156 place in 2012 to 167, UKM 261 to 269, USM from 326 to 355, UTM went up from 358 to 355, UPM from 360 to 411 to 420, IIUM from 401-450 to 501-550 and UITM from 601 to 701. So how do you explain the dismal performance of our leading public universities. First, our universities basically serve as government departments catering for the employment of Malays. Qualified non-Malays are not taken as both lecturers and employees. Public universities in line with the racist policies of UMNO are meant as a Malay preserve. Second, research and development, quality teaching and critical exposure remains at the symbolic level. Dissent and critical thinking are not tolerated in public universities especially those ideas that directly challenge the entrenched powers. Third, UMNO is basically the guardian "angel" of public universities. Positions like deans, vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and others are meant for UMNO members or those who toe the line of UMNO. Fourth, very few qualified non-Malays are recruited as lecturers and promotions are few and far between. Fourth, promotions to associate professors and professors are not based on academic ability and quality publications, but rather how political networks are established and maintained. Fifth, given the lack of academic leadership, there is little or no competition amongst students to excel in academic studies. Sixth, publications by lecturers and professors are not of international standard. Quantity is more important than quality. I can go on stating more reasons as to why the Malaysian universities are on the decline and why without a greater political transformation, it would be impossible to rectify the system."

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