Second Mahathir education review committee
should prepare a masterplan for an education revolution and not just reform
to make Malaysia the provider of quality education for primary, secondary,
tertiary, mother-tongue and ICT education
by Lim Kit Siang
In his speech opening the inaugural Penang UMNO Education Convention on
Saturday, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi spoke
about the global education industry which involves astronomical expenditures
in the region of trillions of ringgit.
Education, in particular higher education, has become a very lucrative
industry, both domestically as well as internationally.
There are at present some two million international students pursuing higher
education abroad, nearly half of them from Asia, which has been described as
"only the tip of the iceberg" as the demand for higher education will grow
by leaps and bounds in the next one to two decades with East Asia's combined
GDP set to surpass that of the US and the European Union around 2020.
Malaysia should aim to secure at
least five to ten per cent of these international students to come to our
universities, which should not be too difficult if our universities are of
international repute, as the cost of living in Malaysia are very much
cheaper and lower than those in the West.
The only hurdle to surmount is for Malaysia to establish itself as an
international centre of educational excellence with universities and
tertiary institutions recognized globally for their academic attainments - a
provider of quality education not only for Malaysians but for international
students to further their education in the country.
Instead of continuing to allow education to divide Malaysians, the
government should provide the lead and set the example to make quality
education for primary, secondary, tertiary, mother-tongue and ICT education
the top national educational objective.
A major drawback for Malaysia at present is the absence of an university
which is internationally recognised for its academic excellence.
Previously, the country had one, as the University of Malaya in the sixties
was undoubtedly an university of international repute and standing. However,
in the Asiaweek's 2000 ranking of Best Universities in the region,
University of Malaya was ranked a lowly 47th position out of 77
universities, with Universiti Putra Malaysia in 52nd and Universiti Sains
Malaysia in 57th position.
Asiaweek in 2000 also had a separate ranking for "Science and Technology
Schools" where Malaysia's sole mention, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, was
ranked 30th out of 39th universities/institutes, while in the Asiaweek 2000
ranking of the Best MBA Schools in the region, Malaysia's top MBA school,
the Faculty of Business and Accountancy in the University of Malaya was
ranked a lowly 32rd place among the top 50 MBA schools.
In 2001, the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC)
conducted a survey of foreign business executives working in the region on
the best education system in Asia and the highest quality labour force.
Malaysia came out poorly, ranked seventh out of 12 countries when we should
be among the top three, which went to Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
The second Mahathir education
review committee should prepare a masterplan for an education revolution and
not just reform to make Malaysia the provider of quality education for
primary, secondary, tertiary, mother-tongue and ICT education.
Quality education at the tertiary level is only possible if there is quality
education at the primary and secondary schools, as they lay the foundation
of a generation's educational prowess and greatness.
Malaysia needs an educational revolution and not just educational reform if
the country is to become a genuine international centre of educational
excellence which provides quality education at all levels of its education,
whether for Malaysians or to global citizens.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National