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Policy Failures In Both Education And Economic Management Must Be Addressed To Resolve The Scandal Of 80,000 Unemployed Graduates


Press Statement
by
Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Policy failures in both education and economic management must be addressed if the government is serious about resolving the scandal of 80,000 unemployed graduates. The failure of graduates from private institutes of higher learning (IPTS) unable to find jobs has not only resulted in financial loss to the country but also misery to those who remain unemployed, some since 1998.  

MARA had threatened two days ago to stop sending its students to private institutions of higher learning(IPTS) unless the IPTS can guarantee that 80% of its graduates obtain jobs. With MARA spending RM 700 million yearly on 15,000 to 20,000 students annually, the failure of these graduates to find employment is an unjustifiable loss of public money and tragic waste of human resources.  

Something is very wrong with both MARA and Education Ministry if they continue to throw away RM 700 million every year to IPTS educating students who are unemployable and can not contribute to the nationís development. Such substantial funds can be better spent to improve the quality of education in the country as a centre of excellence and produce skilled workers that can improve the countryís competitive edge. 

This sad saga of 80,000 unemployable graduates poses two questions:

  • Why does the Education Ministry continue to waste money and send students  without bothering whether they have the skills and knowledge that are needed by industries and businesses?; and

  • Is there no co-ordination between the Finance Ministry and Education Ministry to ensure there is no mismatch of skills needed by employers and education obtained by students?

Policy failures resulting in short-sighted education policies and shoddy economic resource planning must be quickly addressed. MARA is right to consider the action by these IPTS who provide sub-standard syllabus as a betrayal for these students who study there.  

Worse are allegations that the Education Ministry takes special care of certain private institutes of higher learning (IPTS) by continuing to sponsor students even though these IPTS have questionable standards. There are IPTS that depend and cater solely to government-funded students as no private students would wish to waste money enrolling in these IPTS. Does the Education Ministry not know that some of these IPTS will go bankrupt without students who are financed by the government?  

The country can no longer bear the costly burden of financing IPTS who do not meet standards whether in terms of content or teacher quality. Is it too difficult to ensure that IPTS have courses which are relevant? For instance, as the electronics industry is the mainstay of our manufacturing sector, the government should focus on IPTS that are linked to and trains skilled workforce in this industry. Then, not only will we maintain our comparative and competitive advantage but also improve the graduates employment prospects.

(28/3/2005)


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General